, Port Arthur, Texas


September 22, 2012

OUTDOORS COLUMN: Waterfowl future requires commitment

PORT ARTHUR — The future of waterfowl hunting in our region relies in conservation and unfortunately in politics.

Let us take conservation first.

 We cannot help it if the winters are warm and most of the ducks never make it down this far. However, when they do reach our region, we can provide them with good habitat conditions. While nesting habitat is critically important, we cannot overlook the wintering grounds.

Without the right combination of water and food, ducks have no reason to stick around.

The land we are able to hunt and conserve needs to be in good condition but there are issues that have been lingering for decades.

Take the marshes along the Intracoastal Canal corridor for example.

Channelization has allowed saltwater intrusion into formerly brackish marsh and that has been extremely negative for waterfowl habitat, particularly in regards to certain foods ducks eat. For many years, no one looked at this problem but since the boom in duck hunting’s popularity, the right people seem to be paying attention.

The Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Bridge City is a shining illustration of good management. The Old River Unit has seen the benefits of erosion control and saltwater barriers. Just 15 years ago, there was very little vegetation there and now there is increasing duck food and signs that marsh is coming back to life.

These measures are a joint effort of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Ducks Unlimited (DU).

Over the last decade, DU has taken a bad rap for seemingly not doing enough habitat conservation in our region (The Texas Chenier Plain), but the facts show a different picture.

Much of DU’s acreage in the Texas Prairie Wetlands Program lies within this range and much its public land projects lie within Orange, Jefferson and Chambers Counties.

The best thing we hunters can do it is to support organizations that promote waterfowl conservation and volunteer to help. In some areas there is starting to be an attitude of “I support DU” versus “I support Delta”.

The fact is modern waterfowl hunting might not be here if it were not for DU and their powerful lobby and conservation ethic.

In addition, Delta although a much smaller organization has some good ideas that deserve support and study. They are also doing powerful things on the political side in Canada, which is an extremely important area for waterfowl production.

They are both good organizations and I am a member of both.

Waterfowl hunters certainly do not always see eye to eye but we can agree that we want a bright future for hunting and that means continually pushing for conservation and sticking to our guns when it comes to the tough issues we face.

If we do not do that there will be no duck hunting in the future and that is a future none of us wants to see.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at


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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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