, Port Arthur, Texas


November 3, 2012

Chester Moore column: Bass still bite in late fall

PORT ARTHUR —  Largemouth bass can get finicky in the late fall. Once the leaves start falling, the slightest change in temperature combined with a major change in the photo period of the day changes bass feeding patterns dramatically on reservoirs. To successfully find fall bass on big water, anglers need to focus on a combination of shad in relation to transitional zones and large main lake structure.

 Main-lake points and creeks entering the main body of the lake are the important areas to fish at this time of year as they give the fish access to shallow and deep water and hold fair to good amounts of shad. Throw large Beetle Spins and wacky worms during the midday period; fish topwaters and buzz baits early and late. Another viable option is to fish the riprap and bulkheads along some of the big marinas, especially in the evenings. These areas will hold many bass, especially after a late frontal system passes through. The hard part is patterning the fish.

 For these situations, I like to use a slow-sinking lure like a Slug-Go or a whacky worm because they appeal to both temperature stunted slow moving fish and aggressive feeding fish as well.

 Between fronts, look for shad bunched up around the secondary points and start fishing a crank bait like a Bomber 9A with a slow retrieve. If you find fish and they are active, switch to something like a Rat-L-Trap and boost the retrieve up to medium speed.  Sometimes the shad are sometimes spread along the shorelines, stacked horizontally instead of vertically. If this is the situation, the bass can be scattered as well so try trolling. Use the Bomber 9A or a ?-oucne Rat-L-Trap trolled with a slow pace. If you catch a fish, throw over a marker buoy and hit that spot again.

 It is best to employ spinners when the water is up high and you have shad clinging tight to the shoreline. Cast parallel to the shore and work it back at a medium pace for best results.

 Another method that may seem strange for fall but that works quite well is “flipping” for bass in deep brush. Many anglers know bass hold tight to brush that runs along shorelines of reservoirs in the spring but they will also hold up between fronts in the spring. If you stop to think about it, late fall and early spring weather patterns are very similar, so it can pay to use those tactics you use in the spring.

 The best spot to look is near brush that rests on a ledge at the end of a point near a creek channel. This is especially true late in the evenings when bass often move from the deep to the shallows to feed. Shad stack up in these areas, which in turns draws in the bass. By flipping a large jig/pig combo or a live crawfish rigged on a 1/2-ounce jighead, it is possible to catch good numbers of bass

 Brush pile bass are famous for biting at specific depth when they get choosy, say 14 feet, and ignoring anything they have to move very far to ingest. That is why boat positioning is such an important part of brush pile fishing. If you get right over brush and vertically drop a live shiner or run a crank bait by it your chances of catching a mess of fish increases greatly. The same is true of fish around natural structure in relation to drop-offs. A good way to fish these spots is to use a depth finder to locate those that have big schools of shad around them. Bass do not hang around spots that are devoid of baitfish very long and the bigger the bunch of bait, the more fish will be around.

 A drop off around a river channel may not be very deep so do not go looking for a crater. A difference of two or three feet in depth is major when putting things in perspective. Micro crankbaits like a Yozuri Snap Bean in 1/32 or 1/16 ounce are great for fishing along main river channels to locate fish suspend over deep water. I started using them for crappie but have also found them effective for catching brush pile bass.

 One of the reasons some anglers have such a hard time locating fish on big waters is that many of these fish will suspend at say 8 feet in 12 feet of water just over a subtle drop-off. When fishing jigs or shiners rigged on weights, many anglers shoot right past these fish whereas a tiny, diving crank bait will go right to them.

 Hunting is on the mind of many anglers in the fall, but that doesn’t mean the bass have stopped biting. For those who recognize this, there are plenty of fish to be caught.

 (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at


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     Summer is one of the best times to seek catfish in Southeast Texas and thankfully, for local anglers without a boat, there are catfish in just about every canal, drainage ditch and bayou in the area.
      Fishing from the bank has its disadvantages but there is a way around it. This involves making the fish come to you.
      European catfish and carp anglers who typically fish exclusively from the bank use a system called “ground baiting,” which involves putting chum out with the bait. They attach a small cylindrical device above their swivel, which holds chum and dispenses it as the water rushes by. The problem is these rigs are not readily available in our marketplace.
      However, with a little ingenuity, taking a 35-millimeter film canister, punching a hole in the bottom and on the lid and then punching more holes along the side can make a similar device. This acts as a perfect chumming device and is very inexpensive.
      Not everyone has film canisters these days so the softer plastic aspirin bottles will also get the job done.
      Rig this above your swivel and weight, and then fill it with your favorite chum. Now you will not only be chumming the area you fish in but also bringing fish directly to your bait.
      Any kind of chum will work, but a mixture I have had some success with was menhaden oil (available through many mail order offshore supply catalogs) mixed with soured milo. The oil creates a huge chum slick and when it mixes with the milo, the smell is almost unbearable, which means catfish love it. The best part is that a little bit goes a long way.
     Something else to consider is using jack mackerel as bait.
     This oily fish is available in larger supermarkets in a can for less than $1, and I can attest it will bring in fish. While fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and tagging sharks for the Mote Marine Laboratory, my partners and I were able to chum in and catch nearly 40 sharks while using less than two cans of the stuff. It is oily and stinks to high heaven, so catfish should love it.
      For anglers interested in using film canisters to chum their bait, something else to consider is the use of a popping cork. Even if your bait is on the bottom, you can rig a popping cork above it and attach a baited film canister below. This will allow you to do some extra chumming and use the cork to “pop” the chum out whenever you want to release more.
     Another great tip for land bound anglers is to use braided line. In talking with several anglers who pursue brackish blues from the bank, I have learned that loosing striking fish can be a problem.
      I am not sure as to the reason but a definitely solution is using a braided line because they have no stretch. When making long casts with monofilament from the bank you have the potential for lots of line stretch when can make a poor hookset.
     Sixty yards of line might have five or six feet of stretch and that is plenty for a big blue to undo. When using a braid like Fireline, Gorilla Braid or Spiderwire you can forego these problems and greatly enhance your chances of putting some catfish in the frying pan.
     (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at and watch him Saturdays on on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore”.)

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