, Port Arthur, Texas


July 8, 2014

Chester Moore column: Give summer crappie a chance

PORT ARTHUR — Crappie get little attention during the summer in Southeast Texas and that’s a shame.

On Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn, brushpiles can produce solid numbers of crappie for those who know where and when to look.

The where is in the deep water on the edge of channels and off deep, brushy boat docks on the main lake.

The when is typically at night, using lights to attract the gregarious predators.

Vertically jigging a live shiner on a small jighead is a killer way to find the fish, however there is a drawback to live bait. The lakes are loaded with spotted gar that are drawn to lights in large numbers and they will annihilate shiners. Make sure and bring some crappie jigs along which can help you circumvent the gar and focus solely on the crappie.

Using fluorocarbon line is a good idea crappie can be quite line shy at times.

“The reason most anglers use fluorocarbon is become of its visibility. It has the some reflective properties as water so in essence the only thing a fish can see on the line is reflections,” said Clay Norris of tackle industry giants Pure Fishing.

Crappie are notorious for biting “soft” so fluorocarbon can also help in that regard.

“If you pull on fluorocarbon it has similar stretch to mono but it doesn’t soak up water. Mono is stretchier when wet, so that makes a big difference,” Norris said.

“We think is the reason why fluorocarbon feels more sensitive is because we think the material is denser and transmits vibration like a hard cable. Secondly, the line sinks so there is less bow or slack in the line and it keeps better contact with the rod shaft so you can feel more vibrations.”

Another interesting note from Pure Fishing comes from their research facility which works daily with live fish, including crappie. What they found was that carp (believe it or not) are the “smartest” fish, meaning they can learn small tasks and start avoiding line, hooks and bait quicker than other fish.

Crappie however were number two, vastly outshining bass, rainbow trout and walleye.

There are so many crappie in lakes like Rayburn it can seem like they will hit anything but the big fish are super wary and require focus and dedication.

River fishing can also be productive, especially if you can find eddies just off the main channel.

Smaller baitfish like shad have a difficult time navigating current-laden water so they often seek refuge (or simply end up in) eddies that form in the river. These eddies are simply areas of slack water that might form just downstream of a logjam or in a pool off the main river channel or off a bend in a deep creek.

Targeting eddies is fairly easy and simply requires you being able to hold position over one long enough without running into it and disturbing any fish that might be there.

Try throwing a white/pink Roadrunner in first to see if you get any aggressive response. Make casts right against the bank and work from there. Many of the crappie in these eddies seem to want to hold tight to the banks and feed from there.

Crappie are fun to catch and even more fun to eat. Put in a little effort seeking crappie this summer and you might just find yourself having a fish fry of epic proportions.

(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 or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on


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  • Chester Moore column: Give summer crappie a chance

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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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