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The parishes of Calcasieu and Cameron are situated in the southwestern portion of Louisiana. They are both known for making up most of the Creole Nature Trail, a famously designated 180-mile All American Road. This unique nature trail, dubbed as Louisiana’s Outback, is considered a pioneering National Scenic Byways in the south right by the Gulf of Mexico.
Calcasieu Parish is historically one of the original civil parishes established in 1807 by the Louisiana Legislature. As it grew in population in the mid-1800s, it was divided into smaller parishes. By 1870, Cameron Parish was formed, located in the southern portion of what was then known as Imperial Calcasieu.
Calcasieu Parish holds its parish seat in the city of Lake Charles. As a booming city, it is considered a cultural and industrial powerhouse in the state. The Lake Area, as it is fondly called, is known for its petrochemical industry, casinos, Mardi Gras festivals, and educational system. Cameron Parish, on the other hand, holds its parish seat in the town of Cameron. It is seated right on the Gulf of Mexico, just at the heel of the boot of the Louisiana state, standing close to the Texas state line. Cameron Parish can rightly be considered a beach town as it is surrounded by so much water — the Gulf of Mexico, Sabine Lake, the waters of Calcasieu Parish, Jefferson Davis Parish, and Vermillion Parish.
Hikers and nature-lovers who come to Louisiana primarily to explore the Creole Nature Trail can start their journeys at either of these two hotspots. The most popular spot to start at is Sulphur, one of the cities in Calcasieu Parish. From there, travelers can then conveniently explore the rest of the trail, with various stops at Cameron Parish, including Holly Beach, the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, before circling back to Lake Charles back in Calcasieu Parish.
Needless to say, with its easy access to the rich waters of the Gulf of Mexico plus the various networks of waterways in both parishes that empty into the great gulf, these two Southwestern Louisiana spots are a must-visit for any angler. They offer freshwater, brackish water, and saltwater fishing both inshore and offshore all year long. And because they’re not as popular as many fishing spots on the Gulf of Mexico, you may find stretches of shoreline or marshlands all to yourself.
With various waterways snaking through Calcasieu and Cameron that all drain out to the great Gulf of Mexico, plus a mild climate all year long, fishing in Southwest Louisiana can be very productive.
Lake Charles offers plenty of fishing in its brackish and fresh waterways. Speckled trout is the draw here for many anglers, as these fish species can be found in schools all year round. Springtime fishing for trout in Calcasieu Lake will yield multiple trophies starting mid-March. Winter trout fishing north of Lake Charles is another productive way to catch these fish species. Go where the water’s deeper and that’s where you’ll find big speckled trout hiding.
Another year-round species that can be found in this part of Louisiana is the redfish. This schooling fish species is a favorite among fly fishing enthusiasts along Calcasieu Lake, especially along its marshy shorelines. The Cameron jetties are yet another popular spot to target this fish species, especially during high tide and when the east and south winds bring water in from the Gulf of Mexico.
If you’d like to cut your teeth targeting bass, then head to Calcasieu’s fresh water bodies. In Calcasieu River, for example, you can target both spotted bass and largemouth bass in great numbers. Typical catch measure 6 to 12 inches, but depending on the condition of the water, you may even catch bass measuring over 20 inches. Other species to diversify your catch here include catfish, bream, crappie, southern flounder, and speckled trout.
Venture out into the stream that connects Lake Calcasieu to the Gulf of Mexico so you can catch some seasonal fish species. Spanish mackerel, sheepshead, and cobia can be found in these parts, depending on the season.
Go southwest of Lake Charles to find the brackish waters of Prien Lake. Strong winds that plague Calcasieu Lake do not reach this part of the Lake Charles system, making it your best spot to fish in Southwest Louisiana during the winter. Fish species to target here include black drum, redfish, speckled trout, and southern flounder.
Other great fishing spots in Southwest Louisiana along the Creole Nature Trail include the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge and the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge. Cameron Prairie has the so-called Bank Fishing Road, where you can fish from the marshlands. Over on Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, anglers can target redfish, speckled trout, black drum, and largemouth bass via its two public boat launches and fishing piers, two of which are accessible to anglers with mobility issues.
Because of the many shallow marshes all over southwest Louisiana, it’s the perfect place to practice some kayak fishing. Surfcasting along the Gulf of Mexico coastline and the many parks on the Lake Charles system, including Prien Lake Park, Intracoastal Park, and Holbrook Park, is yet another productive fishing method to try. However, if you want to maximize your time in the area, booking a fishing charter is your best bet. There are plenty of boat launches in the parishes of Calcasieu and Cameron, so choosing one will depend on which catch you want to focus on.
The top 10 fish species to catch in Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes, LA are speckled trout, redfish, southern flounder, largemouth bass, striped bass, black drum, crappie, cobia, sheepshead, and tripletail.
Fish species such as speckled trout, redfish, and various species of bass can be found all year long in the parishes of Calcasieu and Cameron. The key is to move around with the fish depending on the season to guarantee the best and most productive catch. For example, during summers, it’s best to fish the reefs in the middle of the lake if you’re going for speckled trout. However, if you’re targeting redfish, go towards the shallower parts of the water near the jetties during the same season, and move to the marshes if you’re there during spring or fall.
Fall time is the best time to target southern flounder. Around November, you will find them migrating through the pass. Lure them in with some soft plastic bait or minnows. Be patient with them, though, and wait till they bite before you reel them in.
Wading during the wintertime on Lake Calcasieu is one of the best ways to catch trophy speckled trout. Around January and February, wade in the shallows and follow the big specks as they target schools of mullet on the shoreline. The key here is to be as sneaky as possible, as these fish are smart and can easily get away.
Visitors wishing to visit this part of Louisiana are in for a treat. There is a great variety of sights and activities that travelers of all ages and interests will love.
Get the help of a local expert to maximize your time fishing the waters of Calcasieu and Cameron. Many of the fishing charters in both Lake Charles and Cameron specialize in inshore, offshore, and even night fishing.
Calcasieu is home to the second-largest Mardi Gras in the state. It is known for being quite family-friendly, too. And while you’re there, take in the rich history of the festival at the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu, which houses the widest range of Mardi Gras costumes from all over the world.
Apart from fantastic fishing opportunities, Creole Nature Trail is one of the best places in North America to bird-watch. Come through here during springtime and visit the Peveto Woods Bird and Butterfly Sanctuaries in Cameron Parish. This spot has been lovingly preserved by the Baton Rouge Audobon Society and is a great spot to watch migratory birds.
Typically held in October, Boudin Wars is a unique Southwest Louisiana tradition. During this competition, patrons and visitors sample different takes on the boudin by various local restaurants and vote for their favorite.
Lake Charles is known as a thriving casino hotspot. The most popular ones include the L'Auberge Lake Charles Casino Hotel, Delta Downs Racetrack Casino Hotel, and Golden Nugget Lake Charles.