PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

May 11, 2014

Offshore fishing season is upon us

CHESTER’S SUNDAY OUTDOORS COLUMN

PORT ARTHUR — Slowly but surely the offshore fishing scene is coming to life.

Red snapper are out of the picture for most of the year now in federal waters but there are other fish to thrill anglers in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

King mackerel are one of those species.

Any kind of cut or live bait will draw strikes from kings.

Big, lipless crankbaits are even better choices. Silver spoons are also great choices, especially those tipped with a jig or cigar minnow are great to troll behind culling shrimp boats.

If you fish the rigs for kings, bring along some chum like menhaden oil or throw out chunks of pogey to attract the big fish. I have found that canned jack mackerel makes great chum and it is very inexpensive.

All you have to do is punch holes in the can and put it in a lingerie washing bag or fish basket tied off to the boat. It will not take long to create a massive (but environmentally safe) oil slick. Spoons are also good for working around the legs of a rig to see if there are any mackerel prowling around. Simply throw out the spoon, let it flutter and float with the current around the structure of the rig.

One can hardly mention kings without talking about sharks because they run together a lot, especially behind the shrimp boats. These fish fight as hard as anything out there and they are quite tasty as well.

Large circle hooks rigged on steel leaders are the most popular terminal tackle for bagging sharks. Sharks cannot only cut a line with their teeth but also with their skin, which is sharp in its own right. One quick slap of the tail can cut even heavy-duty line with no problem.

For targeting blacktips and spinners, my personal favorite chumming method involves bringing along a bucketful of small menhaden, grabbing a handful and squeezing. Some of them will float, others will sink quickly and others slowly.

This creates a feeding frenzy situation with sharks that can allow you to sight cast to them with cut bait. The ideal setup for this kind of fishing is having one bait on the bottom for species like bull sharks and Atlantic sharpnose and a couple of free lines to get the species that feed in the upper level of the water column.

This time of year, a big bonus for anglers fishing around the rigs are the ling that are starting to show up in good numbers. Locating these unusual fish is no problem. They are suckers for structure in Gulf waters and can often be found hanging around oil platforms, stand pipes, jetties and buoys.

One of the best tactics for locating ling around structure is to rev up the motors take a paddle and pound the water's surface to get the attention of the fish. The first time I saw this done I thought the guy doing it was crazy. I had always been taught to be quiet in the boat and to avoid spooking the fish. However, when I saw a huge ling rise up to the surface I was convinced that the technique was for real.

If you would like to catch ling try the standard summer fishing protocol: a handful of cut pogeys thrown overboard, and live crab or fresh cut bait hanging from circle hooks.

Crabs in particular are extremely good baits for ling. Almost every ling I have ever cleaned or seen cleaned had a belly full of crabs. Rods loaded with artificials should also be kept within reach since ling do not mind biting on plastic. Soft plastics like curl-tailed grubs or imitation ribbonfish are good baits for lings. One of my favorite baits is the big six-inch shrimp imitation in brown or chartreuse. Using chartreuse is interesting because most of the offshore guides in Florida swear by it.

A popular ling bait in Florida is an eight-inch chartreuse curl-tailed grub dressed out with a sparkled pink skirt. Guides there claim a ling cannot resist it. Hard plastics like shallow-running Mirrolures and Jointed Thundersticks can also be productive.

The ling themselves are fascinating creatures to study. Their moves have baffled the scientific and angling communities but recent developments give insight that can help anglers catch more of them.

Out of several hundred tagged in the northern Gulf, 55 were recaptured the next year and 12 of them were caught in the exact same spot where they were initially caught. That means the big ling you just never could get to cooperate last summer might bite this year.

Very few of us fish offshore as much as we used to due to strict regulations and fuel prices but there is no question the most exciting fishing in our regions is out past the jetties in the sandy-green waters of the Gulf.

(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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  • 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.
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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 cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV.org)

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