PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Outdoors

May 31, 2014

Chester Moore column: The East half of Texas is catfish country

PORT ARTHUR — If you don’t believe that then drive down some of the farm to market roads in the region and see how many flathead heads you see displayed on fence posts. It might surprise you but in some areas that is the way anglers in rural areas brag about their catfish angling exploits and no doubt offend a few tree-huggers along the way.

With that said, the region offers excellent fishing for flatheads, channels and blues. Some water bodies are great for all three while others have a more specialized focus.

We’ll take a look at the best of what the region has to offer and show you where and how you can catch the biggest and baddest cats the state has to offer.

Lake Livingston is the best all-around producer of catfish in East Texas. The fish there are plentiful and grow to enormous sizes and there are lots of ways to catch them.

Flatheads provide some of the best action for rod and reel anglers, particular those who venture out to fish at night.

The shallow coves bordering the main lake as well as some of the islands along the main lake provide an excellent place for the predatory species to hunt baitfish that congregate in the shallows after hours. Live perch fished on the bottom on a Carolina rig is probably the most popular method.

For trot liners, targeting flatheads in their deepwater daytime haunts is the best method. Look for major structure around the main channel of the river to provide the best action. The channel gets deeper as it moves toward the spillway and you will find lots of anglers rigging up trotlines there. Again, stick with live bait like perch or large goldfish.

During the summer, anglers on Lake Livingston will target big blues near the thermocline in reservoirs. This is where the temperature stratifies and shad congregate in huge numbers there. Besides actively feeding on live shad, blues will scavenge shad killed by sudden temperature changes.

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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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