, Port Arthur, Texas


February 19, 2014

Chester Moore column: Remembering redfish master Ed Holder

PORT ARTHUR — Anyone from my age (40) on up who spent any time in the woods and waters of Southeast Texas will most likely remember Ed Holder.

The longtime Outdoors Editor of the Port Arthur News and syndicated columnist, he provided a unique and in-depth style of outdoors coverage that is unlike anyone I have read before of since.

The pursuit of redfish in ultra shallow water with topwaters, frogs and other lures is super popular these days but Holder was an absolute master it this decades ago.

In fact, my first trip out with Holder fishing back in 1997 was for reds with topwaters only in the Keith Lake Chain.

When I showed up at Holder's house he had the boat trailered and ready to go. The first thing I noticed about his equipment was the snow-white Producer's Ghost (topwater plug) he had tied onto his line.

"Where did you get that bait?" I asked.

"I've never seen one that white."

“Oh, the bait's not white," Holder responded.

"It's actually multi-colored. The white you see is battle scars from being hit by reds. I'm going to fish this bait until it can't go any more."

Battle scars, indeed. The battered plug had obviously landed many, many redfish, and I immediately suspected it would do more of the same that day.

Our first stop was along a shallow shoreline adjacent to a small drain. Holder said the reds held there quite a bit. The action was slow, however, so we eased farther down the bank until Holder suddenly noticed a ripple in the water.

"Throw there," he matter-of-factly instructed. "There's a school of redfish."

I noticed the ripple, but could not make out the reds. I threw my bone-colored Rebel Jumpin' Minnow toward the action and could not believe what came next.

A big school of reds surfaced under the bait, and several of them slammed it so hard that it sailed a good five feet out of the water. When it landed, one of the reds hammered it again, but this time was hooked up.

Holder soon connected with another. We had a double-header, and the morning had just begun. God was definitely smiling down on us that day.

By the time we had battled our reds, the school had spooked and moved on. So, we moved, too. Our next stop was in a shallow flat hidden deep in the marsh.

In the course of the day we both limited out on redfish by fishing with topwater plugs. The fishing was great, but the best part for me was listening to Holder share his intimate knowledge of redfish and, in particular, how to catch them on topwaters.

His most compelling observation was what he calls the redfish "cone of vision” is something I have quoted many times in print, on the radio and in lectures.

This is the zone that an angler should try to work around when sight-casting to reds. If a redfish's head were a clock, its eyes would be at 2 and 10 o'clock. The fish can basically see to 4 o'clock on the right side and 8 o'clock on the left, but 5, 6 and 7 o'clock are blind spots.

An angler should always make a point to throw the bait directly in front of the fish or even with its head.

My career would have never gotten to this stage if the Lord had not put Holder in my life and for that I am forever grateful. I would have also never had as much insight into the world of redfish that has allowed me to consistently catch these super sport fish.

We are at a place in the outdoors business where everyone can be an instant celebrity (or so they think) by throwing up a few fishing clips on Youtube or creating a blog. Real outdoors innovators however dedicate much time in the field and that is something Ed Holder did.

Ed Holder was a great writer, an effective mentor and the most skilled pursuer of redfish I have ever met.

I rarely see a redfish without thinking of him.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can watch him on Saturdays at 10 a.m. on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore” and listen to “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI.)

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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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