, Port Arthur, Texas


February 5, 2014

Chester Moore column: Time to visit chuggers for trout, reds

PORT ARTHUR —   Now is the time anglers are starting to catch big trout wading the flats in Calcasieu, Sabine and in the Galveston Bay complex.

  Their winter metabolism is slow so to target the big ones anglers like slow-sinking plastics or topwaters fished at a snail pace.

  In my opinion, many anglers are doing themselves a disservice by not fishing chugging type of lures, relying solely on walking plug. A classic example of a chugger is the Chug Bug while for a walker it would be the Super Spook.

  Chuggers are highly underrated for catching big trout and during the winter, their more leisurely pace loud “sploosh” can grab the attention of big sows in the bays. That is why I got a better blowup to hookup ratio on the day described above.

  We often think of fish as voracious predators that cannot wait to get their mouths on whatever bait or lure we offer them. Reality is much different. We must remember that fish are cold-blooded and water temperatures dictate how they feed and respond to lures.

  During winter, I start by using the following pattern using mainly the Splasher by Sebile.

  Cast. Chug. Wait five seconds. Chug again.

  Then if that does not work, use the same pattern but wait only three seconds. It is difficult to fish this way, since it is a lot more fun to make a topwater move fast, but crawling it along can be super effective.

  Start fishing your plugs with a slow retrieve and increase gradually. Never fish as fast as you would in summer or fall. Even on warm days, trout are not as active as they are during those warmer periods. Despite this relative inactivity, some of the best trout of the year are caught.

  I also think the biggest trout are simply a lot more wary and if something looks like its moving slower and is easier to catch they are genetically programmed to attack it first instead of expending calories on something that would require more effort.

 The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department for years been tinkering with genetics to create a strain of largemouths that would more readily bite angler’s lures and baits for stocking in urban community lakes.

  They know Florida’s get lockjaw soon in life and I believe there is a dividing line on trout from a genetic perspective to simply be more cautious. I do not think most fish “learn” with age as studies have shown their memories are very short, however, genetic programming could be the answer to why certain fish get big and others do not.

  I do not think it is all growth genes but also a caution gene that makes them less likely to end up hooked.

  Something moving super slow that is about the size of a mullet and that can perhaps the fish have not seen before could offer a real advantage for an angler looking for that big winter speck.

  They are also great for anglers who are topwater fishing novices. Let’s face it, not everyone can properly “walk the dog” but anyone can fish a chugger.

  I like to use them on super lines like Berkley Fireline or Spider Wire because my style of hookset involves no true hookset.

  With a super line with no stretch, you can do this easily. I let the fish strike and when it starts to run with the plug, I steadily raise my rod tip, start reeling in, and rarely miss fish when I do so. When there is no stretch in the line, there is no give and therefore hooks go where they need to go.

  Besides knowing how to fish topwaters in the winter, an equally important element is locating mullet. After all, topwaters mimic mullet.

  While some anglers might get the idea that it is necessary to find large concentrations of the popular forage species, perceptive anglers know small pockets lead to more success.

  An easy way to find them and the trout is to watch the tide charts and fish days where the tides are running high in the afternoon, and fish mud flats nearby deep water adjacent to spots like the Intracoastal Waterway.

  Black mud in the clear water warms quickly and draws baitfishes and their predators from nearby deep-water haunts. Additionally, the warmer water kick-starts the metabolism of specks and gets them feeding more aggressively.

  Chuggers are also great for redfish and I in fact have caught reds in Venice, La. measuring more than 40 inches on the Sebile Splasher. Reds will hit them year-round. Trout will too for that matter but I think in the winter when the hunt for the big ones is on, it is time to rethink putting them in your arsenal.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can watch him on Saturdays at 10 a.m. on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore” and listen to “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI.)

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  • 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.
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    • 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

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