, Port Arthur, Texas

April 10, 2013

OUTDOORS COLUMN: Local “River Monsters” going strong

Chester Moore, Jr.
The Port Arthur News

—    Last Monday morning Patrick Jones of Orange called me just as I was getting my daughter ready for school.

    “I caught a big one,” he said.

    “It’s a gar. A real big one.”

    He wondered if I might want to come shoot some photos which I was able to arrange and was excited to see a six-foot nine-inch behemoth he caught using live mullet fished in the wee hours of the morning in Bridge City.

      It reminded me of the truly unique fish that dwell local waterways and that in some form or fashion have made their way onto Animal Planet’s super popular series “River Monsters”.

    Although host Jeremy Wade has never fished the Sabine or Neches, he has visited the nearby Trinity and caught big alligator garfish.

    Here are some fish that can (at least on occasion) be caught in our rivers and estuaries that would qualify as monsters.

    Alligator Garfish: Let us start with the obvious. The Trinity River is the nation’s best for trophy-sized alligator garfish and I would rank the Sabine River/Sabin Lake area as number two. We have lots of big gar in comparison to other systems and they are apparently starting to bite judging by Jone’s big catch.

    Bull Sharks: Sabine Lake itself is a nursery area for bull sharks meaning the big females come into the system to have their young. Bulls have been caught up the Neches and Sabine on occasion and are routinely caught in summer months at Stewts Island where the Neches meets the Sabine River.

    Grinnel: Although not as monstrous in the size department as our other entries, grinnel (bowfin, dogfish, mudfish, choupique) are common in the Sabine and Neches are very similar to the snakehead fish that Jeremy Wade has pursued on his show. These strange looking fish are hard fighters and will gladly take offerings of artificial lures.

    Stingrays: When saltwater reaches north of Interstate 10 stingrays will move into the river systems. There have been numerous caught in the Sabine in drought years and although most of the big ones are taken by anglers at the jetties and in the surf, huge ones have been in the lake itself. The southern stingray can grow upwards of 200 pounds.

    Paddlefish: Although not legal to harvest and very rarely caught by anglers paddlefish are present in the Sabine and Neches. These plankton eaters, sometimes called “spoonbill catfish” grow up to five feet in length and occasionally are caught on trotlines.

    If you have any photos of yourself or family members with “River Monsters” of the local variety send them in via email to We would love to run them on these pages.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI and online at You can watch his WebTV fishing and wildlife series at