, Port Arthur, Texas


March 12, 2014

Economics radically alter fishing scene

— Seven years ago I posed the question, “Do red snapper matter any more?”

That came after the frustration of government officials giving anglers a two fish bag limit and miniscule season in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Now the question is “Does offshore fishing matter any more?”

It certainly does to the relatively few who can still afford to pursue it but things are so radically different it is like these anglers are fishing an entirely different Gulf.

Oil companies are removing rigs at an alarming rate, restrictions have been put on amberjack and even triggerfish are under the microscope. On top of that the really big sharks are almost nonexistent and although fuel prices have been worse it is still too high for the average Joe, especially if those with diesel motors.

The offshore scene is dying a slow, agonizing death but it is not destroying the will of anglers to fish. Now they are simply focusing their efforts elsewhere.

Growing up we never had money and as a family we never let economic situations dictate our enjoyment of fishing. When we couldn’t afford a boat, we fished from the bank off of Highway 87 in Bridge City.

When things were even tougher, I would drive my back down to the gully by my house and catch mud cats, gar and grinnel.

I fondly remember the grand adventure of pursuing “Big John” the massive alligator garfish that live in that gully.

When I was in elementary school, some of high school boys came up with the idea of tying a nylon rope to the end of a truck, baiting it with a whole chicken attached to a shark hook and floating it out under a jug.

When the jug went under, they would crank up the truck and pull the behemoth ashore. All of the elementary school boys thought that was the greatest idea anyone had ever concocted.

The only problem was they were going to do it at the big pond on the high school agriculture department’s property where only Ag students could tread without getting in serious trouble.

We would have to watch from the road and hope they could fit the creature in the bed of their truck so we could get a glimpse.

Half a dozen or so of gathered at the gully that day to do some fishing and of course see which of these legendary fish was going to take the bait. We just did not see how they could resist a whole chicken..

We could see that the small crowd of Ag students that gathered to see the capture of Big John were scattering like ants. They were running all over the place.

Were our fabled fishes so humongous they would run from it? Did it attack one of the bystanders?

Our imaginations ran wild.

It turned out, they had pulled in a nine-foot long alligator that was not very happy at being hooked and pulled behind a truck.

I know many local anglers who had the same kind of upbringing and this generation is carrying a fish no matter what attitude into the new millennium, just like we did.

I have fished in Spain’s Segra River and caught seven foot long Wels catfish and have battled huge peacock bass in South America and in all honesty, those days fishing from the bank were just as exciting.

That desire to make adventures happen despite economics is  exactly what the boom in kayak fishing in Gulf waters hails from. Thousands of hard working and adventurous anglers are finding they can have just as much fun offshore as the people who can afford far more luxurious modes of transportation.

No, they’ll never be pursuing marlin around the big floating rigs in the blue water but finding oneself amidst a school of 30 to 40 pound bull reds or being towed by a six foot lemon shark on the beachfront is every bit as exciting.

So to all of you hardcore Texas anglers who refuse to let questionable rules dictate where you will fish, this column is dedicated to you. Whether you are in a catamaran, bay boat, kayak or johnboat, make it a point to enjoy yourselves doubly when fishing this year.

It doesn’t matter if you are in Taylor’s Bayou or in the Gulf of Mexico, enjoy every moment on the water.

Don’t let the situation stop you. Get out there and fish!

(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 and watch him Saturdays at 10 a.m. on 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.
    • 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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From the Fieldhouse blog