Lake Charles Fishing: A Complete Guide
Dec 28, 2020 | 7 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 7 minutes

It should come as no surprise that Louisiana’s fifth-largest city is commonly referred to as “The Lake Area.” Notably, it boasts access to a namesake lake, Calcasieu Lake, the Calcasieu River, and Prien Lake. You could say, then, that Lake Charles lives up to its nickname.

While the city may be widely known for its glitzy casinos, local anglers will tell you that this is the place to come and cast a line. The Lake Charles fishing scene offers incredible opportunities to hook into both saltwater and freshwater fish.

An aerial view of the Lake Charles waterfront.

The unique chain of waterways found here includes numerous lakes and rivers that flow into one another, before finally emptying into the Gulf. With so many diverse habitats, you can only imagine the fish you’ll find here.

In this guide, we’ll highlight some of the top fish species you can catch, as well as how to hook them and where to go. Finally, we’ll finish off with a few rules and regulations to keep in mind. By the time you’re finished reading you’ll be ready to pack your tackle and go!

What fish can I catch?

The waterways in the Lake Charles area are both brackish and fresh, which seriously diversifies your possible targets. The fish you’ll catch depends on where you decide to cast a line. What you can count on consistently, however, is multiple hookups and more than a few opportunities to hook a trophy.

Speckled Trout

A male angler holding a large Speckled Trout caught on Calcasieu Lake.

Speckled Trout are the main target of anglers heading out to the Lake Area. You’ll find these schooling fish year-round in Lake Charles, Prien Lake, and Moss Lake. If you’re after a trophy, however, Calcasieu Lake is where you want to be. “Gator” Trout typically arrive in mid-March and hooking into multiple fish in the 5–8 pound range is a common occurrence. You may even hook into a monster in the double digits!

But great Trout fishing isn’t just reserved for early spring and summer. Contrary to what you may think, heading north to Lake Charles to fish for winter Trout is a must. The water may be colder at first glance, but it’s also deeper. These deep pockets are warmer than the surface temperature and hide nice-sized fish.

When it comes to choosing the right gear, the bottom line is that Speckled Trout like hard bottoms. As such, depending on the depth you’re fishing, topwater plugs, slow-sinking lures, and soft plastics are good choices.

Redfish

A female angler proudly showing off a Redfish caught aboard a Lake Charles fishing charter.

What’s a Louisiana fishing list without Redfish? Though they come second to Speckled Trout in these parts, the brackish waters of Lake Charles and Calcasieu Lake are favorable environments for them. Huge schools of Redfish roam the waters year-round making for exciting fishing – especially for anglers casting flies.

Calcasieu Lake, often called the “Big Lake,” is significantly larger than its neighbors. You can hook especially big Bull Reds along the jetties in the summer and during the fall mullet run. In winter, cast your lines along the shipping channel. Targeting the marshy shorelines is a safe bet throughout the seasons. Big Lake is popular among fly anglers but that doesn’t mean traditional spinning rods won’t get the job done!

Bass

A male angler proudly showing off a Largemouth Bass.

Bass are iconic in the world of sportfishing, and for good reason. These clever fish are opportunistic eaters – but don’t think that makes fishing for them is easy. Bass will rarely go after the same bait twice, meaning pursuing them never gets old.

You won’t find these freshwater targets in the brackish waters of Lake Charles, but heading to the freshwater Calcasieu River can put you on quality fish. While the river is considered a good Spotted and Largemouth Bass fishery, the size and number of fish you’ll find in it changes from year to year.

Numbers depend in large part on spring flooding, which is instrumental in creating nursery habitats for different types of Bass. While most fish that get pulled out of the Calcasieu River measure in between 6–12 inches, anglers have also caught Bass hitting well over the 20-inch mark. Get out and there and give it a try, who knows what you’ll go home with!

And So Much More!

An angler holding two large Flounder aboard a charter fishing boat.

While you’re most likely to hook into the above-mentioned fish, they’re not the only ones who call these waters home! You can add Flounder and Black Drum to your target list across the area, and a few more as you move south to Lake Calcasieu. In the Calcasieu River, expect to find Crappie, Bream, and Catfish alongside Bass.

Lake Calcasieu connects to the Gulf of Mexico by a 5.5-mile-long stream, meaning you’ll have access to some seasonal visitors. These include Cobia, Spanish Mackerel, Sheepshead, and Tripletail. What’s more, if you’re fishing the lower portions of the lake, switching locations and heading into the Gulf instead is a breeze.

How do I fish Lake Charles?

Now that you know what fish to catch, it’s time to turn your attention to “how.” Below, we highlight some of the most popular ways to get your hands on a trophy, or simply fill the cooler with delicious fish. 

Charter Boat Fishing

A charter boat ready to take anglers out on the water in Lake Charles.

Hopping aboard a charter vessel with a licensed local captain is one of the best ways to take advantage of the Lake Area. There’s a lot of ground to cover so if it’s your first time, heading out with a guide is a good way to guarantee you’ll maximize your time on the water.

Whether you came to hook a bruiser Spotted Seatrout in Lake Calcasieu, a Largemouth Bass on the Calcasieu River, or Redfish in Lake Charles, your captain will work hard to ensure you go home happy. They’ll also provide all of your gear and ensure you’re fishing within the law.

Kayak Fishing

An angler in a cap, with his back to the camera, fishing from his kayak.

Kayak fishing has seen a steady uptick in popularity – and for good reason. You’ll get up close and personal with your targets, and it’s a great workout too. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve got some experience under your belt, Lake Charles is a great place to give kayak fishing a try.

Southwestern Louisiana is home to plenty of shallow marshes where kayaks have a clear advantage. These shallow honey holes are often inaccessible by boat, so you’ll have the fish all to yourself. Enjoy the peace and quiet, take in all the wildlife, and go home with some delicious fish. What more could you ask for?

Shore Fishing

Two fishing rods set up on the banks of Louisiana's inshore waters.

If you’d prefer to stay ashore, that’s ok too! You can still catch some of the area’s most notable fish from the banks. There are plenty of parks that allow you to wet a line from shore including Prien Lake Park, Holbrook Park, and Intracoastal Park.

Alternatively, you can indulge in some surf fishing along the Gulf of Mexico’s coastline, or from one of the beaches along the Creole Nature Trail. Wherever you choose to go, Speckled Trout, Redfish, and Flounder are all on the cards.

Where can I catch fish in Lake Charles?

A boardwalk running through Southern Louisiana's famed Creole Nature Trail.

The Lake Area is home to a lot of different waterways. As a result, it can be overwhelming to choose a spot. We’re just scratching the surface with the places listed below, but they’re a great starting point to build on.

  • Creole Nature Trail: Often referred to as “Louisiana’s Outback,” the Creole Nature starts at Lake Charles and extends all the way to the Gulf. Home to incredible wildlife, including over 400 bird species, it also houses Redfish, Speckled Trout, Flounder, and Bass.
  • Calcasieu Ship Channel: If you’re after bruiser Speckled Trout, you can’t go wrong in the Calcasieu Ship Channel. Expect to hook fish in the double digits, both in the deeper waters around the ledges and in the marshy bayous.
  • Calcasieu Point Landing: Housing places to fish from the bank, as well as a 24-hour boat launch, this access point at the northern end of the Calcasieu Lake is a great choice for a variety of anglers. You’ll catch favorites including Speckled Trout, Redfish, and Flounder.
  • Calcasieu River: We know this is vague, but Lake Charles is the biggest city on the river and offers access to both the upper and lower streams. Hook Spotted Bass and Bream in the upper stream, and Catfish, Largemouth Bass, and Crappie in the middle. In the lower stream, it’s all about Redfish, Trout, and Flounder.
  • Prien Lake: Located six miles southwest of Lake Charles, Prien Lake is a sportfishing paradise. Its brackish waters are home to Speckled Trout, Redfish, Black Drum, and Flounder. This lake is protected from the strong winds that hit Calcasieu Lake, making it a great choice for winter anglers.

Anything else I need to know?

A sign advertising the purchase of bait, tackle, and fishing licenses.

There are a few more things you show know before heading out on your Lake Charles fishing adventure. First up are fishing licenses. Since the majority of the waters in the area are brackish, you’ll need both a Basic Louisiana Fishing License, as well as a Saltwater License – depending on where you’re fishing. For more detailed information, check out our extensive license guide.

Make sure to stay on top of local regulations related to bag limits and seasonality to ensure you’re fishing within the law. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, a surefire way to make sure you’re respecting the rules is to head out with a local guide.

Lake Charles Fishing: Take Your Pick

An aerial view of the numerous waterways surrounding the Lake Charles area.

If there’s one thing that defines the Lake Charles area it’s the sheer amount of water it encompasses. From Lake Charles itself to Prien Lake, the Calcasieu River, and the incredible Calcasieu Lake – the hardest part is choosing where to cast a line.

Wherever you decide to go, you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Enjoy the silence and hook into some incredible fish – the Lake Charles fishing scene doesn’t disappoint.

What’s your favorite spot to fish in Lake Charles? Tell us about your experiences of fishing in the area – we love to hear from you!

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Comments (2)
  • James ChadwickBig

    Jan 4, 2021

    Enjoy fishing..Big Lake..

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      Iva

      Jan 5, 2021

      Hi James,

      It is an incredible place to fish, isn’t it?

      Hope you get out there plenty in 2021!

      Tight lines

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