PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Outdoors

December 1, 2012

Chester Moore column: Zebra mussels spreading in Texas

PORT ARTHUR —   Zebra mussels are one of the biggest concerns facing Texas fisheries and waterways.

    The non-indigenous nuisance has already been found in Lake Texoma and Ray Roberts.

    Since Texas is new to the zebra mussel fight we wanted to give you a look at what experts around the country have to say about their impact and how they are spread.

    Perhaps the most well documented impacts are native mussels, which are an important food source for species like blue catfish.

    Zebra mussels are anchoring themselves by the thousands to native mussels making it impossible for the native mussel to function according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

    “As many as 10,000 zebra mussels have attached to a single native mussel. Our natives have all but disappeared in Lake St. Clair and the western basin of Lake Erie.”

    Zebra mussels are filtering the Great Lakes at an amazing rate, making the lake very clear according to USGS officials.

    “Most people assume that this increased visibility in the water must mean the water is "cleaner". Not true. All they have done is filter out all the algae which normally would be food for native microscopic organisms.”

Interestingly the USGS Great Lakes regional branch said they have some positive impacts.

    “As the lakes clear, the brighter light levels cause aquatic plants to increase in number and size. This increased plant growth can be beneficial to some fish such as northern pike and to yellow perch.”

    Studies so far have shown no significant negative impact on fish populations in zebra mussel lakes. Most of the studies have been conducted in northern waters so the jury is still out on how it might affect largemouth bass for example in Texas waters.

    According to TPWD one zebra mussel can produce 30,000 to a million offspring in just one year.

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Outdoors
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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 cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com. You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com and watch him Saturdays on GETV.org on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore”.)
     

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