, Port Arthur, Texas


October 10, 2012

OUTDOORS COLUMN: Fall full of surprises

PORT ARTHUR — Fall 2012 has been one full of outdoors surprises both on a public and private level.

Just as the deadline for this edition approached, I found out about a massive nontypical buck killed by a bowhunter in San Jacinto County. Any time big bucks are taken in East Texas, I am interested and this one is a monster.

The buck scores “well over” 200 Boone & Crockett points according to the fortunate bowhunter A.J. Downs. The official score has not been received at the time of this writing.

“This is a freak deer, there is nothing of this caliber that I have seen on the ranch in the 7 or 8 years we have been on this place,” Downs said at a story at “The first year I was on this lease I shot a buck that scored 160. So yes, the Lazy M has some quality deer.”

We hope to have more details on this monster East Texas buck in a coming edition.

Speaking of monsters, I saw the largest bobcat I have ever seen last week while hiking into an area along the Sabine River in Newton County.

Over the years, I have seen a minimum of 200 bobcats during the thousands of days I have spent in the field all over the country. I am sometimes shocked when hunters tell me they have never seen one when I have seen so many including five on one ranch in a single day back in 2003.

 I have some sort of bobcat magnet or something it seems.

The one I saw last week was a monster. It was a really tall, super long tom with a strong spotted pattern. Many in East Texas have sort of dull coats but this one showed its spots well.

The cat did not yet have its winter coat on but you could tell it was starting to bulk up. By January, it would look much larger.

I consider myself blessed to have seen it.

Ditto for the absolutely stunning number of sharks I encountered last weekend near Venice, La.

Sharks I have seen. Even great whites (in California) I have seen but never this many.

They were schooling for miles and were virtually everywhere from south pass all the way along much of the southern tip of the state and they were annihilating everything in their path including Spanish mackerel, mullet and pogeys. In fact, the guide I was with said they seemed to have halted the bull redfish run in the area since they moved in so thick or at least made the reds super spooky.

Most of them were blacktips and spinners and they were aggressive enough to readily hit artificial lures. It is just about the time those species migrate out to deeper water with many heading toward Mexico.

Perhaps they were fattening up for a long journey.

A couple of weeks ago I was coming out of Sea Rim after dark and saw something that looked like a very large snake just on the edge of the grass. I turned around for a look and was shocked to see it was a cottonmouth.

Earlier this year I caught the biggest cottonmouth I have ever had my hands on but this one was even larger. It was a minimum four feet long and as big around as my pet ball python. I walked right up to it and got a positive identification before it slithered off into cover.

I considered pursuing it but since the light was low and I did not have a light opted to leave it be. Yes, even I have rationale moments when it comes to dealing with potentially dangerous creatures.

Get outside and enjoy the fall. It is already proving to be a very interesting one.

(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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  • 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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