, Port Arthur, Texas


December 14, 2013

Chester Moore column: Seven winter outdoors challenges

BEAUMONT —   I love a good challenge and during the winter in the Lone Star State there are plenty to take up in the great outdoors. Here are seven challenges that will satisfy even the most adventuresome outdoorsman.

    South Texas Rut: The whitetail breeding season in South Texas is just starting to kick off. The latest in the nation, it can run into February and offers Brush Country hunters the ultimate opportunity at scoring on a mega buck, which that region has in large numbers. There is nothing in deer hunting like watching a sendero in that area during the rut as bucks chase does, fight one another and exhibit truly awesome behavior.

    Cool Crappie: Crappie fishing heats up when the weather cools down on the East Texas reservoirs like Toledo Bend where seemingly endless numbers of these great fish stack up in the old river channel. Check your local reservoir’s deep holes and river beds for crappie in the coming weeks and chances are you will find some.

     Ridiculously Large Redfish: The comeback of the redfish has been truly tremendous. Catching breeding-sized bull reds used to be a rarity but now it is commonplace and the giant fish can be caught in the surf and around our jetty systems year-round. Lower a live croaker or cut mullet around a deep Sabine jetty hole or chunk it out past the second sandbar in the surf and be prepared to do battle with a brute.

     Calling Bobcats: I love wildlife photography and while predator hunting can be fun, I prefer hunting them with a camera as it is incredibly challenging to get them into photo range. Bobcats can be called into within a few feet but it requires patience.

    Get you a solid electronic game calling unit, set up a ground blind on your deer lease or wood lot near your home and start calling. Bird calls and dying rabbits tend to work the best. Cats come in slow but will come in closer than you might like.

    Lunker Hunt: The Texas’ Sharelunker season kicks off Oct. 1 but very few entries of 13 pound or larger bass start coming in until December. It is typically only a couple but I believe that has more to do with the lack of angler effort that the fish biting. Throwing big jigs and swimbaits around deep cover and structure can yield monster bass on virtually any lake in the state but Falcon, Sam Rayburn, Lake Austin, Fork, Choke Canyon and Conroe are my top picks for mega bass this month.

     Woodies: If you can find something more fun than shooting at wood ducks piling into a hole in the timber let me know. I want to experience it. Texas wood duck numbers are larger and now with three in the bag limit we have an extra incentive to hunt the nation’s most beautiful fowl.

     Rabbit Hunting: My first hunt was walking down a fence line on my Aunt Ann’s property and spotlighting rabbits with a head lamp. And it was (and still is) legal. Hunting rabbits at night is loads of fun and is a great way to introduce kiddos to hunting. Plus, rabbits are super tasty and with the rain we had in much of the state this year the cottontail and swamp rabbit crop is booming.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can watch him on "God's Outdoors with Chester Moore" on GETV ( Saturdays @ 10 a.m. You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on "Moore Outdoors" on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI.)

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  • Chester Moore column: Bank fishing good approach on catfish

     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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