, Port Arthur, Texas

July 6, 2013

OUTDOORS COLUMN: Ling make it worthwhile

Chester Moore, Jr.
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Ling are not usually the primary species sought on an offshore adventure in Texas, but with the snapper situation, they make an offshore trip worthwhile.

Ling are strong, stubborn fighters, a challenge to hook and tops on the table.

Locating ling is no problem. They are suckers for structure in Gulf waters and can often be found hanging around oil platforms, standpipes, jetties and buoys. They are also extremely curious and seem to be interested in looking at whoever is visiting their hangout.

One of the best tactics for locating ling around structure is to rev up the motor 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 person doing it was crazy. I had always been taught to be quiet in the boat and to avoid spooking the fish. But when I saw a huge ling rise up to the surface, I was convinced that the technique was for real. Ling are just plain different from any other fish.

They also bite different from other fish. A 50-pound ling sports a mouth that could probably inhale a small child, yet the same ling can become extremely hard to put a hook into.

I have always wondered why they are so finicky and have asked just about every expert there is. All of them have told me that ling are line shy, and now I believe it.

A friend of mine who pursues ling a lot says he learned that lesson when he was toying around with a big ling that kept coming up to his boat.

The big fish simply wanted nothing to do with his offering of cut pogey on a 7/0 hook and 50-pound-test line, but when he grabbed a medium action spinning combo spooled with 15-pound-test and rigged the same bait he got hooked up immediately. The big fish seemed to be aware of the heavier line.

If you would like to catch ling (along with shark, king mackerel and other species) try the standard summer fishing protocol: a steady stream of chum, 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 don't 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 6-inch D.O.A. shrimp in brown or chartreuse.

A popular ling bait in Florida is an 8-inch chartreuse curl-tailed grub dressed out with a sparkled pink skirt. Guides there claim a ling can't resist it. Hard plastics like shallow-running MirrOlures can also be productive.

The ling themselves are fascinating creatures to study. Their moves baffle the scientific and angling communities.

Ling usually start showing up in Texas waters when Gulf waters reach 67 degrees and usually stick around until the big northers of fall move through. It’s well known that they travel south to north in the spring and north to south in the fall. But ling are also found in deeper offshore water holding around structure throughout the year.

Some scientists believe there is an additional offshore to inshore and back movement. Ling usually start showing up in Texas waters when Gulf waters reach 67 degrees and usually stick around until the big northers of fall move through so there is still plenty of time to get out there and catch them.

(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