, Port Arthur, Texas


May 23, 2013

OUTDOORS COLUMN: S.A.L.T tourney celebrates 39th anniversary

PORT ARTHUR — The 39th annual Saltwater Angler's League of Texas (SALT) Memorial Day Classic Fishing Tournament takes place Saturday and Sunday (May 25 and 26).

    This will be the second event held at their new clubhouse on Pleasure Island after Hurricane Ike devastated the historic venue.

     “It’s that time again and we look forward to putting on a good tournament and seeing some nice fish brought in from our great local anglers,” said Mark Foreman of SALT.

    The tournament’s entry fee is $40 and allows anglers to compete in redfish ($750 first place), speckled trout ($750 first place) flounder ($750 first place) black drum ($150 first place), sheepshead ($150 first place), and croaker ($150 first place), divisions.

    All categories pay out through third place and there will be a $1,000 grand prize. Both the redfish and black drum categories are slot-sized fish only.

   Junior anglers (15 and younger) can compete for first place prizes for various inshore species ranging from croaker to crabs.

    The youth division is free of charge and signing up is not necessary. Kids can just show up and weigh in their catches.

     The S.A.L.T. tournament is always a good indicator of the health of local fisheries as the top anglers in the area compete and bring their best to the scales. This year has been banner for speckled trout and I suspect we will see some stellar fish brought in. The same goes for flounder.

    Although widely known in the community for its tournament, S.A.L.T. does not get enough credit for is its conservation actions.

    Conservation is defined as the “wise use of natural resources” and over the years they have done a good job in that regard.

    For years the favorite part of a S.A.L.T. weigh-in was the shark category where everything from huge hammerheads to beastly bull sharks were brought to the scales.

    Back in the late 1990s when it was revealed that many of the large coastal shark species were in trouble S.A.L.T.  eliminated that category. Some anglers weren’t so happy at first but it proved to be a wise move and one that ended the needless killing of big, breeding-sized sharks.

    In recent years they have eliminated the garfish category that also aided in conservation since gar regulations have been severely restricted by the state. Whether S.A.L.T.’s aim with gar was conservation or convenience, the result is a tournament more in line with what is happening with our natural resources.

    Those are the kind of actions that make a difference and that is why this tournament has weathered every kind of economy, fishing regulation change and even weather condition imaginable. The people behind it are rock solid and forward thinkers.

     “Everyone is invited to come out and watch the fish brought in. This is a long-standing tradition and while many things have changed the great fishing competition is always a part of our event,” said Stan Armstrong of S.A.L.T.

    Tickets are available at Peggy’s on the Bayou in Bridge City, Simon Outfitters in Orange and Daley’s Hunt-N-Fish in Port Arthur.

    For more information call 409-963-0433.

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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 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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