, Port Arthur, Texas


December 22, 2012

Chester Moore Sunday column: 'Twas the night before Christmas (at hunting camp)

PORT ARTHUR — (This fun rendition of the holiday classic has become a tradition for me to run annually. I hope you all enjoy it and can share it with your kids. Merry Christmas!)


   'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the camp

   Not a creature was stirring, not even a lab.

   The socks they hung by the chimney with care,

   In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

   The young sportsmen were nestled all snug in their beds,

   While visions of redfish swam through their heads.

   And mamma in camo, and I neatly matched,

   Had just settled down for a long winter's nap.

   When out on the marsh there arose such a clatter,

   I jumped from the bed to see what was the matter.

   Away to the window I flew like a teal,

   Tore open the shutters and to see what is the deal.

   The moon hitting down on the strong tidal flow

   Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.

   When, what my weary eyes did spy

   Eight tiny gators and a pirogue in sky.

   With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

   I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

   More rapid than widgeons his gators they came,

   And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.

   "Now, Boudreaux! now, Trahan! now, Broussard and Comeaux!

   On, Bergeron! on Savoy! on, Dugas and Thibodeaux!

   To the top of the camp! to the top of the wall!

   Slither away! Slither! Slither away all!"

   As dry leaves that before the blue norther do fly,

   When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.

   So above the pilings-top the coursers they flew,

   With the sleigh full of prizes, and St. Nicholas too.

   And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

   The prancing and clawing of each reptile foot.

   As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,

   Down the chimney, St. Nicholas came with a bound.

   He was dressed all in muskrat, from his head to his foot,

   And his clothes were all tarnished with mud and soot.

   A bundle of decoys he had flung on his back,

   And he looked like a hunter just opening his pack.

   He had a broad face and a little round gut,

   That shook, when he laughed like an out of shape mutt.

   He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

   And quickly spied the bowl on the shelf.

   He took to the gumbo like a dog to a bone

   Read the note we had left him next to the phone.

   He then filled all the stockings with lanyards and masks

   Left all new presents then was done with the task.

   And laying his finger aside of his nose,

   And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

   He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a call,

   And away they all slithered through the marsh they did crawl.

   But I heard him exclaim, when he was out of sight,

   "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."


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     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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