PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Outdoors

August 12, 2012

CHESTER MOORE: Shark encounter continues to inspire

Chester Moore, Jr. column for Aug. 12, 2012

PORT ARTHUR —  

Someone recently asked me to recount my best ever wildlife encounter. Since I am constantly seeking them out, they are frequent but it did not take long to narrow it down to one.

    Here it goes…

    A cold chill ran down my spine as I entered the Pacific Ocean. I may have told myself otherwise, but that chill had nothing to do with the 56-degree water temperature. Actually, it had everything to do with what dwelt in that water.

    As I documented on these pages in 2002, I was in the Farallon Islands, located off the coast of San Francisco, California. That area hosts more great white sharks than any other in North America and they are huge.

     The great whites at the Farallons are in fact the largest in the world, with specimens generally ranging from 15 to 18 feet in length. Although I was in the safety of a well-crafted steel cage, I did not feel very comfortable as I gazed into the murky waters. I was frightened, but also more excited than at any other time in my life.

    After all, I have longed to encounter great whites since seeing a Jacque Cousteau television special many years ago. Venturing into their lair was a dream come true.

    Helping make this dream come true was Golden Gate Expeditions, a diving outfitter based in Alameda, California. I learned of their great white expeditions in early 2002, and immediately booked a trip for September.     Back in the cage, the water around me was turbid with visibility no more than 30 feet. If a shark showed itself, it would be right on me before I knew it. Things were intense. Forget skydiving, bungee jumping, and other “extreme” sports.

    They have nothing on entering the backyard of the largest predatory shark in the world. After 30 minutes in the cage, I got out to warm up and grab a bite to eat. Little did I know the most amazing creature I have ever seen would soon take a bite of its own.

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Outdoors
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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 cmooreoutdoors@gmail.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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  • Chester Moore column: Bank hot spots have great value

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