John's Journal...

The Speckled Trout Capital of the World- Lake Calcasieu

What about the Birds?

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Last week, I fished the Speckled Trout Capital of the world – Hackberry, Louisiana, located on Lake Calcasieu in the western section of the state. In 2005, Hackberry Rod and Gun was destroyed by Hurricane Rita. However, in 10 months, with a lot of hard work and sweat, it was restored. Today, it’s better and stronger than ever before, and the lake homes giant speckled trout, big redfish and plenty of medium-to- small fish. This week, we’ll take a look at fishing from Hackberry Rod and Gun. But I won’t be able to show you the delicious food I ate – gumbo, fish and all your favorite vegetables, meats and desserts. Life doesn’t get any better than it is at Hackberry. Kirk Stansel, one of the owners of Hackberry Rod and Gun, was my guide this past week on Lake Calcasieu.

Question: Kirk, how do you fish the birds?
Stansel: The seagulls are working over the schools of fish because the fish are feeding on shrimp. As the fish force the sClick to enlargehrimp to the surface, the gulls dive on them and eat the shrimp at to the surface. When you see a flock of gulls hovering over a spot and diving down, eating shrimp, then you know there’s a school of fish under those birds. When I see birds working, I stay well away from the birds and get upwind of them. I’ll shut down my big engine 100- to 200-yards away from the birds. Then, I use my trolling motor to ease closer to the birds. When I’m 50- to 75-yards away from the birds, I turn my boat sideways so that all my anglers can cast out the side of the boat and then drift towards the working birds.

Question: What lures will you be using when you’re fishing the schools?
Stansel: Most of the time, we’ll be fishing with jigs. On this trip, I saw Mike Sheldon, the president of Mister Twister, really wearing the fish out using a new gold spoon he’s invented with a red or an orange stripe on it. I think Mike was catching one to two more fish than we were catching with our jigs, and he was catching trout as well as redfish. I also like to throw top-water baits like the She Dog and the Corky. You’ll usually catch larger fish, but you’ll always catch more fish out of the school with jigs and spoons.

Question: How big will your schooling fish be?Click to enlarge
Stansel: They usually will be 12- to 18-inches long, and occasionally, you’ll catch from 3- to 5-pound fish.

Question: When you’re fishing schooling fish, will your redfish and speckled trout be mixed together in the school?
Stansel: Sometimes they will be. But sometimes, you’ll catch just speckled trout or just redfish.

Question: If you want to catch big fish, you’ll move to the shoreline. Is that right?
Stansel: Right now, here in June, that’s true. But at other times of the year, we move to the open-waterClick to enlarge oyster reef. Big fish move around and For the last couple of weeks, the big fish have been on the shoreline.

Question: What do the big fish do as the weather gets hotter?
Stansel: As the weather gets warmer, the big fish will become more lethargic, which happens about mid-July. Now, there are no absolutes in fishing. One of the best days I ever had on big fish was in mid-July when the temperature was about 97 degrees at high noon, and it was hotter than blue blazes and as calm and still as a tomb. But the bite turned on and so did the big fish. Typically, as the water gets warmer, the big fish move to deeper water.

Question: What tide is better to catch the big fish?
Stansel: Right now, the high tide is the best. But the main thing is to have the water moving in or out.

To learn more about Hackberry Rod and Gun, go to, or call 888-762-3391. For more information about Mister Twister’s top-quality products, visit

Check back each day this week for more about "The Speckled Trout Capital of the World- Lake Calcasieu"

Day 1: More Trout and More Reds on an Ill Wind
Day 2: Big Trout on the Shoreline
Day 3: Trout Fishing Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This
Day 4: What about the Redfish?
Day 5: What about the Birds?



Entry 408, Day 5