PORT ARTHUR —
The amount of huge speckled trout on Sabine Lake and in the surrounding ecosystems is highly underrated.
Having been in the outdoors communication business for 22 years (since I was 19) I have established a large number of contacts. In the last two years numerous highly successful guides and affluent big trout specialist anglers have said Sabine is the top destination on the Texas coast and perhaps the Gulf Coast for big trout.
Port Mansfield and Baffin produce more 30 plus inch fish but right now Sabine is giving up many 25 plus inch fish and more in the 30-inch class than many realize.
You see there is a seriously dedicated class of big trout specialists who never post their photos on Instagram, share on Facebook or in one of the popular coastal fishing forums. They do it for the sheer passion and the enjoyment and more and more of them are doing it at Sabine.
This week I wanted to share some observations about Sabine’s monster trout for those of you interested in pursuing them. These are from notes taken over the years, personal experiences and many hours talking with the top trout anglers on the coast.
They Don’t Like Croaker-Live bait is a controversial way to pursue big trout but it is perfectly legal and popular here in the Sabine area. Live croaker is the ticket for big trout on the Lower Coast but is not very effective in Sabine Lake. Mullet is a much more big trout attracting bait in the lake itself. Offshore at the short rigs however croaker can be effective. I have no idea why this is so but it has been this way for years.
Wolf Packs-There are small packs of monster trout that will cruise the shorelines along the rocks at Pleasure Island and along the Louisiana shoreline. These big fish will be in groups of a few to a perhaps a dozen or more. They tend to be most prevalent in early summer in these locales but I have a feeling they roam together like this more often than we know. I am not talking about six 30-inchers hanging out together although it is possible but I have personally seen numerous schools of trout 20 inches plus.
Jetties at Dawn-Many anglers would be shocked to find out how many big trout can be caught on topwaters at the jetties a half-hour before sunrise to about half an hour after.
Topwaters and the jetties might seem like a strange combo but the big girls will feed close to the surface early in the morning on both the Texas and Louisiana rocks.
Interior Channels-There is a system of channels dug in the bayous along the southern half of the Louisiana shoreline of Sabine Lake. These areas can hold huge trout right now.
Go in quietly with a good pair of polarized shades, look for concentrations of mullet and even the big trout themselves. Bring slow-sinking plastics or big topwaters to score.
River Trout-When spring first turns to summer look for the Sabine and Neches Rivers to hold some huge trout. The key is getting out early or fishing late because much like the jetties these fish like to feed on the surface early and late. The amount of bait in this area can be overwhelming so look for small slicks forming when they feed and areas where you have shallow shell dropping off to the deep channel.
Big trout are unique, mysterious creatures that drive thousands of anglers to spend thousands of dollars on specialized gear. Keep these observations in mind and you will greatly increase your odds of catching one.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com. You can watch him Saturdays on GETV at 10 a.m. on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore”.)
PORT ARTHUR —
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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 email@example.com. You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com and watch him Saturdays on GETV.org on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore”.)
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