PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Outdoors

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 cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com. You can watch him on GETV.org 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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