Local Fishing Guides Discuss Angling As A Profession And Pleasure
By Kerri Cooke
As I write this story, I am surrounded by pictures and memorabilia depicting various aspects of the Sportsman’s Paradise. There are scenes on the walls featuring ducks flying over a determined fisherman, along with a small alligator skin attached with pins to the sheetrock.
I’m not naturally inclined to take part in fishing or hunting, so I often forget that I live in an area with a plethora of opportunities for sporting. This, I am sure, is also the case for many other residents of Southwest Louisiana.
As a child growing up in Cameron Parish, I did my share of fishing, because there was not much else to do in Cameron, Creole or Grand Chenier besides visit relatives and friends. Since I lived in a marshy environment about a mile from the Gulf of Mexico, I was well acquainted with fishing.
Tarpons would wash up on Rutherford Beach. My dad and I would fish for flounder, a fish I always thought of as a monster due to its having two eyes on one side of its body, at the jetties. We would also catch perch and catfish, more often snapping turtles, in Barnes Creek at my grandparent’s camp in Ragley.
Today, I enjoy hobbies that have very little to do with the outdoors. Even so, as residents of Louisiana, we live in an ideal wetlands landscape for outdoor sport. Louisiana’s unique ecosystem provides a habitat for many different types of birds and fish, and the Gulf Coast as a whole is a sanctuary for many aquatic species.
The location of Southwest Louisiana makes it an ideal place to catch many large fish that are desirable to anglers looking for a trophy. Prime fish are located not only in the Gulf of Mexico, but also in local waterways that feed into the Gulf, as some of the Gulf fish migrate and meander into other waterways such as Big Lake, also known as Calcasieu Lake.
All of my catches as a child were relatively small, and I was more of a to-pass-the-time fisher than one who was in it for a prize fish. However, for people who take their fishing more seriously, there are local fishing guides who have all the know-how when it comes to catching the biggest and highest number of fish in the area.
Fishing guides operate locally on Big Lake, Toledo Bend and, occasionally, the Gulf of Mexico. These trained guides specialize in chartering boats to bring paying customers to the best locations to catch speckled trout, redfish, flounder and bass. Guides also instruct customers in the best methods of catching certain fish. Many of these fishing guides are also hunting guides when duck season opens.
Local fishing guide companies sell packages, with pricing available on their websites. Pricing varies due to the number of participants on a fishing trip, and whether lodging is requested. Checklists on what to bring on an all-day fishing trip and other useful information are also available on the sites.
The question I posed to several local fishing guides is not whether they have the ability to catch fish, since the answer to that should be obvious, but whether, since they love and are so dedicated to fishing, they do it not only as a job but in their spare time, as well.
Hackberry Rod And Gun
Kirk Stansel of Hackberry Rod and Gun co-owns the business with his brothers Guy and Bobby Stansel. He’s been a saltwater fishing guide since 1979. He specializes in catching speckled trout, redfish and flounder, and is also a duck hunting guide. He fishes out of Big Lake, but sometimes charters some expeditions into the Gulf of Mexico. The company, which has seven employees, can charter as many as 15 boats a day.
Stansel says that he has made a job out of his hobby, and he fishes not only on the job, but on his days off, as well. He would rather be out on the water than doing office work any day. He says he enjoys trying new techniques and strategies, such as fishing a lot of different baits.
Stansel loves his job because he gets to do what he enjoys. There is nothing more fulfilling than a job that is also a passion.
Stansel has the opportunity to interact with a lot of different people, which is another aspect of the job that is fulfilling to him. He says that you have to be a people person to be a good fishing guide, since a big part of the job is being able to effectively communicate with various types of people.
Fishing on his days off allows him to have a break from the presence of people who have hired him as a guide and releases him from the responsibility that comes with chartering a fishing expedition. He says fishing on his day off is a more laid-back activity. But regardless of the circumstance, Stansel loves to fish — with a crowd and without.
To find out more about Hackberry Rod and Gun or to book your own fishing expedition, visit hackberryrodandgun.com.
Big Lake Guide Service
Captain Jeff Poe is co-owner of Big Lake Guide Service. He shares ownership with his wife, Mary.
He began fishing in Big Lake in the early 1980s. While his wife does not do as much guide fishing as she used to, Poe continues to do his job with the same stamina. His specialty fishes are, like Stansel’s, speckled trout, redfish and flounder.
Poe says being a fishing guide is a very rewarding profession, because it allows him to have a good time with good people. He describes his job as “fishing with friends rather than a paying customer.”
Poe, like Stansel, has made his hobby into a successful business venture. On the days he is not fishing as a guide, he is fishing for enjoyment. He finds pleasure in traveling to different and new areas in his free time. The change in location and pace allows him to have new experiences, and to gain knowledge of good fishing spots that he may not have known of before.
Poe says that with the introduction of modern technology, he has more business calls and appointments conducted by email and the web than by phone.
To find out more about Big Lake Guide Service, visit biglakeguideservice.com.
Captain Scott Richey graduated from McNeese State University with a business degree in 1997. He put his degree and business knowledge to use in the fishing guide industry, and has been fishing for over 20 years.
Richey opened Louisiana Outfitters in 2007, after years of managing other hunting and fishing lodges. His specialty is catching speckled trout and redfish, but he also hunts ducks and geese during hunting season.
When he’s not working as a guide, Richey travels and fishes in other parts of Louisiana, and even crosses state lines in search of new fishing experiences. He especially likes to go bass fishing in other locations, since Big Lake is not a prime bass fishing location.
To book a charter or find out more about Louisiana Outfitters, visit louisianaoutfitters.net.
Cajun Paradise Lodge And Charters
Capt. Kevin Broussard and his father, Cajun Phil, run Cajun Paradise Lodge and Charters in Hackberry. Broussard has been fishing in Big Lake since 1985.
Broussard says he uses a variety of advertising strategies, including going to wildlife shows, handing out business cards and brochures, and staying up to date on the web and social media.
In fact, one of the things that sets the Cajun Paradise Lodge and Charters website apart from all the others in the area is the Cajun music that plays when you’re on the home page. This clever trick puts you immediately into an adventurous mood.
Broussard says he’s lucky to have repeat customers and great referrals to keep business going strong.
Broussard, unsurprisingly, also enjoys fishing during his downtime. He loves to go fishing at Toledo Bend during the spring. Another favorite pastime is duck and goose hunting. Broussard adds that he also likes to play golf a few times a year, but doesn’t get as many opportunities to play as he would like.
Broussard stresses that he likes “being outdoors, being in nature, and watching the sun come up in the morning.” He notes that being on the water is very therapeutic, because you can get away from the everyday, hectic pace of modern life. When he is on the water, he says, it is just him and nature. There is no noisy hubbub out on the open water. Instead, there are sounds of insects buzzing, fish jumping and ducks flying overhead.
Broussard goes on to say that in the past he could completely escape from the pressures of everyday life, but the introduction of the cell phone has infringed upon that freedom somewhat. Sometimes you have to be disconnected from the world to get into connection with yourself.
Regardless of the challenges modern life brings, Broussard is sure to find peace on the water whether he’s working or not.
To find out more about Cajun Paradise Lodge and Charter or to enlist the services of Captain Kevin or Cajun Phil Broussard, visit cajunparadiselodge.com.
Joe Joslin Outdoors
Joe Joslin has been a fishing guide since 1998, and is a bass-only fishing guide on Toledo Bend and the Sam Rayburn Reservoir. He is usually booked a few weeks in advance, and fishes every day except Tuesday and Sunday.
Contrary to many of the other fishing guides I spoke with, Joslin views his profession as just a job, and not necessarily a hobby. He notes that he sometimes takes his grandchildren fishing in the summer, but likes to do things other than fishing on his time off.
For example, on Sundays he likes to rest up, attend church and spend time with his family, while on Tuesdays he spends a few hours writing columns on fishing.
Joslin rations his time between being a fishing guide, a family man and a writer. He finds contentment in his job, but also likes to find contentment in his down time by prioritizing activities other than fishing.
To find out more about Joslin’s guiding services and his fishing columns, visit joejoslinoutdoors.com.
One thing all these fishing guides have in common is that they are dedicated to their jobs, and take their responsibility seriously. They also share the same home state, with its nationwide reputation for outdoor sports.
Big Lake is known across the country as one of the best locations to land a trophy-sized trout, while Toledo Bend is famous for its large bass population.
Many of you have jobs that have nothing to do with fishing. But maybe you love fishing in your downtime, just as these passionate fishing guides do. Cajun food, first-class accommodations and a day out on the water are all things you can enjoy when you take advantage of the services these local guides provide.