The times they are a changing! There was a time when the Calcasieu Lake area estuary offered the absolutely best speckled trout fishing in the world, bar none. Not only were the speckled trout plentiful, but they were of the very large size also. During these days, there were giant sow trout caught weighing in over 10 pounds.
For many years, dating back to 1985, Captains Jeff and Mary Poe offered a first-class saltwater fishing package that flourished and was second-to-none locally. The stocks of specked trout and redfish offered both quantity and quality of game fish. Let the good times roll.
Through word of mouth and the sheer numbers of fish, the Poes stayed mostly booked up. There were beaucoup trout in the five-pound range, with more than a few big sows weighing in at more than 10 pounds. The numbers were also off the charts.
Redfish numbers were also up, with big schools of reds surfacing and on the feed. Now, redfish numbers are dwindling dramatically and it is a cause for concern.
There are many contributing factors to the decline of reds and speckled trout. At the top of the list is the disappearance of oysters. The oyster beds have all but disappeared, mostly due to over-dredging.
As the oysters go, so does the saltwater gamefish. In unison with the oyster’s disappearance, there has also been a huge decline in mullet and shrimp. The loss of habitat, and especially of oysters, affects the entire food chain from top to bottom.
Captain Jeff has high hopes for Big Lake fishing success to eventually rebound. It is a cyclic pattern that hopefully will come back strong.
He reported big stocks of small trout in Big Lake — two pounds, and smaller last year. But, compared to the heydays of previous years, the catch is way off.
Concerned fishermen are presently in the process of building oyster reefs in prime areas. These artificial reefs could be the future of saltwater fishing as we know it. There is a real concern that sediment in the water, due mainly to the dredging of the ship channel, covers these beds. Only time will tell.
Meantime, Captains Jeff and Mary Poe have headed east to Jeff’s old stomping grounds in coastal Alabama. They will continue to offer first-class accommodations for saltwater guide services. This area also provides for Gulf trips and beaucoup red snapper.
Fishing is a cyclic phenomenon that is as up and down as the weather. The banner years of saltwater fishing were accompanied by consecutive years of drought. The salinity levels remained high, and the saltwater species grew exponentially in numbers and size.
Hopes are high that artificial man-made reefs will be the answer. Only time will tell. Also, reduced limits have been proposed and are a real possibility in the near future.
The mid-nineties until 2005 was prime time for Gulf coast area saltwater fishing. Local fishermen certainly hope that the fish will rebound and we will return to the good old days.
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