John's Journal... Entry 202, Day 1
HACKBERRY -- HOME OF THE GATOR TROUT
Lake Calcasieu For Gators
EDITOR'S NOTE: Don't stick your fingers in a speckled trout's mouth, or you may draw back a bloody digit. Speckled trout have sharp teeth that can puncture, cut or maim even an experienced trout fisherman. They often resemble young alligators when they approach the boat, swinging their tails from side to side. That's why many anglers call them "gator trout."
If you want to catch the biggest speckled trout of your life or the most trout you've ever taken in a single day of fishing, then fish Lake Calcasieu near Lake Charles, Louisiana. This saltwater inlet from the Gulf of Mexico lies just outside of Lake Charles on the bank of a small Louisiana town called Hackberry. About 8-miles wide and 18-miles long, most of the lake has waters less than 10-feet deep and loaded with baitfish, shrimp, speckled trout, redfish and flounder.
Terry Shaughnessy, a guide at Hackberry Rod and Gun Club, has guided for trout on the lake for 27 years. Shaughnessy reports, "In some years, anglers fishing out of Hackberry Rod and Gun Club will bring in over 200,000 specks, reds and flounders. The average party, including a guide and two fishermen, may produce 68.7 fish per boat per day." Often during late spring and early summer, anglers will boat over 50 trout weighing 7 pounds or more. Hackberry Rod and Gun Club sportsmen average catching and releasing 500 trout that weigh 6 pounds or more per year. "If an angler catches a trout bigger than any he's ever caught and wants to keep the fish to mount, that's okay with us," Shaughnessy says. But you won't find Hackberry just a catch-and-release big-trout hotspot. If an angler wants to catch specks, redfish and/or flounder to stock his freezer, the guides suggest keeping the 1-1/2- to 3-pound trout and releasing the big gator trout.
TOMORROW: WHY LAKE CALCASIEU IS A HOTSPOT FOR BIG SPECKS AND REDS
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