, Port Arthur, Texas


June 7, 2014

Conservation changes big for Sabine areas

PORT ARTHUR — When I first started covering the local outdoors scene back in 1992 when I was only 19 years old, things were much different for the conservation of our resources.

Sabine Lake had never been stocked with speckled trout, the Sabine River ecosystem had zero Florida bass stockings, the Tony Houseman State Park and Blue Elbow Wildlife Management Area was not a reality, flounder stockings were not even possible and there were no artificial reefs on Sabine Lake.

All of those things have come to pass and show that our region is definitely on the radar in the conservation community.

A big part of it is the people in the region.

There have been numerous people who have had a real interest in getting our area the attention it deserves like the late Tony Houseman, the namesake of the beautiful park/management area on the Sabine River in Orange.

Kenneth Pigg of Orange had a big role in working to get the state to stock Florida bass in the Sabine River and local chapters of the Coastal Conservation Association and the Saltwater Angler’s League of Texas had roles in catching broodstock for both the millions of trout stocked in the area as well the growing flounder stocking program.

And I don’t mind saying I had a big role in sounding the call for flounder conservation and worked hard toward doing grassroots work for the stocking program but Capt. Skip James also deserves credit. His flounder work helped inspire me in the early days and he was the first person that I am aware of to bring up the point that flounder were on a decline.

There are so many others who have had super positive roles in the conservation of our area.

Many involved with Ducks Unlimited on a local level have done much good as have the long-standing staffs of the J.D. Murphee Wildlife Management Area and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department staff on Pleasure Island respectively. All of those people care about the resources.

I also have to give the editors and publishers of this publication credit as they have been committed to keeping the only full outdoors page left in the region alive. Started by the late, great Ed Holder, I consider it an honor to carry the legacy and keep folks informed about the outdoors in our region and beyond. Newspapers have been a powerful voice for conservation and informed outdoors lovers can make wise decisions because they know what is going on.

The resources themselves have been extremely important in raising awareness.

It was difficult to get regional magazines to pay attention to Sabine until 1997 when the Gulf Coast Troutmasters tournament series came here and influential anglers from around the state came and caught huge stringers of trout. Then shortly thereafter the lake record was broken twice and Sabine become an official hot spot, not just an afterthought of driving over to Lake Calcasieu for Houston, Dallas and Austin area anglers.

As much as some locals might dislike the attention, the more people of influence who come here, the more chances of us getting what we need on the political front. We have had numerous millions of trout stocked here in the last decade and a half and it shows. Our trout fishery is phenomenal.

Having the Bassmaster Elite Series fish here was a recent game changer and I fully expect to see benefits coming from that for many years.

We live in a unique area and I hope everyone who read this columns realizes it took some great people to make it happen.

(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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    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

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