By Jeff Dennis
When the bull reds are biting hard in Southwest Louisiana, the demand from saltwater anglers equals the supply of trips available from local fishing guides. Booking a trip with Big Lake Guide Service on Lake Calcasieu may secure a date, but a cold North wind and sloppy conditions on the water can sometimes play a surprising role.
Big Lake Guide Service is a father and son operation, founded by Capt. Jeff Poe, with son Capt. Nick Poe recently notching his tenth year as a guide. The bayou, marshes and wildlife found in Cameron Parish make this area part of God’s country for those who love the outdoors.
Fishing trips originate from a private dock, which is near Hebert’s Marina, and these pros fish out of a Dorado 25 boat powered with a Mercury 350 four-stroke engine. On calm days the ride out to the Lake Calcasieu jetties is smooth, but in windy conditions it is a 30-minute white-knuckle boat ride.
The cold can pass right through the long pants, and multiple shirts bundled underneath jackets intended to break the wind. Everyone can wish they had brought more clothes to wear, but with only two other boats in sight at the fishing hole, a realization that most folks will cancel their fishing plans came to light.
Using a trolling motor, Capt. Nick brings the boat close to the rocks at the tip of the jetty in order to begin casting artificial lures into the water. A rip current was clearly visible on the other side of the jetties and a flock of birds began hovering over the water picking up bait.
When the bronze back of a redfish breaks the surface of the water in the rip, Capt. Nick is quick to change the boat position to the other side of the rocks. Another nearby boat does not identify the same redfish action due to the windy conditions, missing a chance to make a similar adjustment.
The cold front can have the bull redfish bite on fire, but in this case it was only in one small area where the rip current met the tip of the jetty. Casting into the strike zone, a redfish with shoulders eats the chartreuse offering, and tears off down the jetties peeling 20-pound Power Pro off the reel.
Capt. Nick can adjust the reel and tighten down the drag if need be. A medium-action rod proves to be the right stick for a very sporting battle with a 35-inch redfish that is returned to the water using a catch and release mindset.
Fishing in water that is 16-feet deep where the rip current rubs against the tip of the jetty can requre a very accurate cast. Landing the lure right beside the rocks, it only takes a second to either get a strike that is instant and aggressive, or to begin your retrieve before getting hung up.
When the bite is as hot as spicy gumbo, everyone in the boat can takes turns casting into the sweet spot. Double hook ups with everyone taking turns netting the fish at the side of the boat promotes a feeling of teamwork.
Seeing those redfish feeding so hearty due to a cold front is a real treat, further revealing how Mother Nature can affect the behavior of fish. Sometimes a hard day of fishing yields outstanding results, like beating the odds to catch multiple bull redfish despite tough conditions in Cajun country.
The author’s Lowcountry Outdoors blog is celebrating a tenth anniversary in 2019.
Photo By Jeff Dennis
Captain Jeff Poe and Captain Nick Poe with cold weather bull redfish