, Port Arthur, Texas


May 29, 2013

Chester Moore column

Ever See Gar in a surf?

ORANGE — Surf fishing guru and founder of Christian Surf Fishing Adventures Marcus Heflin has caught many monster sharks, bull redfish and stingrays from local beaches.

    A few weeks ago however he caught a beast of a different kind.

    “We had been catching bull redfish and then I caught a five-foot alligator garfish. I was shocked,” Heflin said.

    Heflin had caught garfish just a couple of miles north of the Sabine Jetties but has never seen one in the surf.

    “I caught a 10-inch whitey and cut it in half. I used the head part and waded out about a hundred yards. It wasn't 15 minutes and he hit. I was using a 14/0 master circle hook and as always with gar it comes out through the soft skin of the lower jaw. I had to cut the leader from the hook to release it,” Heflin said.

    News of the catch brought to mind something from my youth.

    Out of the hundreds of outdoors magazines I bought at the thrift store in Orange as a kid by cashing in spare change every few months, only two I remember had mentions of gar. One was one of those classic, thick-covered fishing annuals that had a feature on catching gar in Florida on artificial lures.

    The other was a Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine from the late 1970s that had a map of the best fishing spots at Sea Rim State Park. It mentioned good spots to fish in the marsh as well as in the surf and I vividly remember being surprised to see a couple of spots in the surf marked as garfish hotspots.

    That always struck me as strange.

    According to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) officials, little is known about alligator gar movement and habitat use.

    In a 2008 TPWD assessment of the species, TPWD biologists noted some interesting things about gar in relation to coastal ecosystems but there have been some interesting findings.

    “Sakaris et al. (2003) conducted the first published telemetry study of alligator gar in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, Alabama, and found the home ranges of alligator gar were 2.7-12.3 km. However, they observed individuals moving as much as 2.1 km in 1.25 hours, suggesting substantial movements can occur. It is likely that many coastal river populations of alligator gar use both freshwater and saltwater habitats (Goodyear 1967). In Texas, alligator gar are routinely captured in estuarine habitats…”

    That is actually quite the understatement as several coastal ecosystems contain strong gar populations, particular Sabine Lake and Trinity Bay.

    Alligator gar are mysterious creatures and as you can see you never know where they’re going to pop up. What’s next? A gar at the short rigs?

    If you have ever caught a gar in the surf, at the jetties or offshore shoot me an email. I’d like to do a follow-up on strange gar catches.

    (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

Text Only
  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (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

    July 23, 2014

  • Mid County knocked out of tournament

    The Mid County 16-18 Babe Ruth squad’s run to the World Series is over.

    July 22, 2014

  • West golf notepad: West duo claims title in Texas Father-Son

    July 22, 2014

  • Mid County sets up championship series with Tri County

    The Southwest Regional Babe Ruth championship series is set and yes the hometown Mid County squad will be there to play.

    July 21, 2014

  • MC Babe Ruth goes 2-0

    First things first, give Clint Landry and the rest of the officials credit for making the Southwest Regional Babe Ruth tournament possible this weekend at Nederland High School.

    July 19, 2014

  • Up the odds for solid bank fishing

    There are certain limitations to fishing without a boat.

    July 19, 2014

  • Derek Williams, Summer Money League light up the lanes at Max Bowl

    Thursday nights Summer Money League produced some very impressive scores.

    July 19, 2014

  • West column: Pacers hiring Pat Knight didn't help Lamar

    July 19, 2014

  • Babe Ruth.jpg Mid County Babe Ruth set to host Southwest Regional

    The Mid County Babe Ruth 18U team is once again knocking on the World Series door. Mid County will host the Southwest Regional at Nederland High School starting today. Mid County’s first game of the tournament is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against Pine Bluff, Ark. Thursday was a special day for Mid County Babe Ruth as two locals, Jimmy Collins (shown speaking) and Skip Hopkins (back left) were inducated intot he Southwest Regional Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. Both Hopkins and Collins have been involved in Babe Ruth for over 40 consecutive years either as player, coach or board member. There are nine teams in the tournament with the winner headed to Washington state for the World Series.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • West golf notepad: Eleven-year-old Henry scores ace in YMBL tourney

    July 15, 2014

From the Fieldhouse blog