, Port Arthur, Texas

February 5, 2014

Chester Moore column: Time to visit chuggers for trout, reds

Chester Moore
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR —   Now is the time anglers are starting to catch big trout wading the flats in Calcasieu, Sabine and in the Galveston Bay complex.

  Their winter metabolism is slow so to target the big ones anglers like slow-sinking plastics or topwaters fished at a snail pace.

  In my opinion, many anglers are doing themselves a disservice by not fishing chugging type of lures, relying solely on walking plug. A classic example of a chugger is the Chug Bug while for a walker it would be the Super Spook.

  Chuggers are highly underrated for catching big trout and during the winter, their more leisurely pace loud “sploosh” can grab the attention of big sows in the bays. That is why I got a better blowup to hookup ratio on the day described above.

  We often think of fish as voracious predators that cannot wait to get their mouths on whatever bait or lure we offer them. Reality is much different. We must remember that fish are cold-blooded and water temperatures dictate how they feed and respond to lures.

  During winter, I start by using the following pattern using mainly the Splasher by Sebile.

  Cast. Chug. Wait five seconds. Chug again.

  Then if that does not work, use the same pattern but wait only three seconds. It is difficult to fish this way, since it is a lot more fun to make a topwater move fast, but crawling it along can be super effective.

  Start fishing your plugs with a slow retrieve and increase gradually. Never fish as fast as you would in summer or fall. Even on warm days, trout are not as active as they are during those warmer periods. Despite this relative inactivity, some of the best trout of the year are caught.

  I also think the biggest trout are simply a lot more wary and if something looks like its moving slower and is easier to catch they are genetically programmed to attack it first instead of expending calories on something that would require more effort.

 The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department for years been tinkering with genetics to create a strain of largemouths that would more readily bite angler’s lures and baits for stocking in urban community lakes.

  They know Florida’s get lockjaw soon in life and I believe there is a dividing line on trout from a genetic perspective to simply be more cautious. I do not think most fish “learn” with age as studies have shown their memories are very short, however, genetic programming could be the answer to why certain fish get big and others do not.

  I do not think it is all growth genes but also a caution gene that makes them less likely to end up hooked.

  Something moving super slow that is about the size of a mullet and that can perhaps the fish have not seen before could offer a real advantage for an angler looking for that big winter speck.

  They are also great for anglers who are topwater fishing novices. Let’s face it, not everyone can properly “walk the dog” but anyone can fish a chugger.

  I like to use them on super lines like Berkley Fireline or Spider Wire because my style of hookset involves no true hookset.

  With a super line with no stretch, you can do this easily. I let the fish strike and when it starts to run with the plug, I steadily raise my rod tip, start reeling in, and rarely miss fish when I do so. When there is no stretch in the line, there is no give and therefore hooks go where they need to go.

  Besides knowing how to fish topwaters in the winter, an equally important element is locating mullet. After all, topwaters mimic mullet.

  While some anglers might get the idea that it is necessary to find large concentrations of the popular forage species, perceptive anglers know small pockets lead to more success.

  An easy way to find them and the trout is to watch the tide charts and fish days where the tides are running high in the afternoon, and fish mud flats nearby deep water adjacent to spots like the Intracoastal Waterway.

  Black mud in the clear water warms quickly and draws baitfishes and their predators from nearby deep-water haunts. Additionally, the warmer water kick-starts the metabolism of specks and gets them feeding more aggressively.

  Chuggers are also great for redfish and I in fact have caught reds in Venice, La. measuring more than 40 inches on the Sebile Splasher. Reds will hit them year-round. Trout will too for that matter but I think in the winter when the hunt for the big ones is on, it is time to rethink putting them in your arsenal.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can watch him on Saturdays at 10 a.m. on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore” and listen to “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI.)