MOORE OUTDOORS: Don’t forget winter surf

Published 9:40 pm Saturday, November 19, 2016

When looking for fishing action in local waters this winter, don’t forget the surf.

Yes, I realize it seems we are far away from real winter conditions, but during the cooler weather of the year, some of the hottest action hits the surf at Sea Rim State Park, McFadden Beach and along the Bolivar Peninsula.

Here are some species you can expect to catch:

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• Gulf kingfish (whiting): Gulf kingfish, also called Gulf whiting, according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, live in small schools in the surf along the Texas coast.

“Young kingfish sometimes move into the shallows in coastal bays. Like their relatives the southern kingfish, Gulf kingfish feed on bottom-dwelling animals such as worms, clams and other shellfish.”

Winter brings lots of “whiting” to beachfronts, and the beautiful thing about catching them is simplicity. A dead shrimp or small chunk of cut bait fished on the bottom is usually enough to get their attention.

• Atlantic croaker: Atlantic croaker are about 12 inches long and weigh 1/2 to 2 pounds on average. Croaker are also simple to catch and take to dead shrimp quickly. When they are abundant in the surf, croaker will gladly take scented soft plastic lures. Since by-catch reduction devices have been required on shrimp trawls and the Gulf fleet is down significantly, croaker numbers (along with sand and Gulf trout) have boomed, and we are seeing some of the biggest croaker in decades.

I got into a school of them a couple of years back where most of the fish were 1.5 to 2 pounds and one was closer to 3. Croaker are excellent to eat, by the way.

• Sand sea trout (Sand trout): Sand sea trout are silvery with a pinkish color on the upper sides according to TPWD.

“Their large mouths are orange on the inside and have with one or two rounded teeth at the front of the upper jaw. Although common in deeper bays, channels and the shallow Gulf, sand sea trout live nowhere else.”

Like whiting, dead shrimp and cut bait are the way to go for bait.

• Silver sea trout (Gulf trout): TPWD describes silver sea trout as bright silver all over with no stripes, bars or other marks.

“The only place you’re likely to find color on these fish is inside their mouths which are orange. They live mostly in the Gulf where they feed on fish and shellfish but they do come into bays in the winter.”

They go for the same baits as their close cousins the sand trout.

• Black drum (Bull drum): There is no mistaking these giants. Oversized black drum move into the surf beginning in early winter with more and more fish coming in toward the spring spawning period. Crab with the shell taken off and large dead shrimp are great baits to score on these bruisers.

To contact Chester Moore, email him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI.