River redfish and marsh crappie just two local shockers

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Last week my cousin Frank Moore called me as excited as I have ever heard him.

“I hung into a bull redfish past Bluebird’s Fish Camp toward Square Lake,” he said.

“I was bass fishing with a crankbait and I had him on for a few minutes and got several good looks at him. The fish was probably 36 plus inches and was too much for those bass hooks. It broke off.”

This began a conversation about local fish that are seemingly out of place.

Back in 2012 I fished with a friend near the Port of Orange and broke off a redfish that was a minimum of 40-inches and like Frank’s fish it hit a crankbait.

I have caught many reds in and around the Port of Orange over the years but this was the biggest.

Redfish do great in freshwater and are even stocked in Texas reservoirs like Fairfield, Braunig and Calaveras so it makes one wonder how far they travel up the river. Seeing over-sized reds near the Interstate 10 corridor is unique but it is not nearly as shocking as crappie in Johnson Bayou.

When I first met now-retired fishing guide Capt. Skip James he told me of several areas in the upper reaches of Johnson Bayou that produce solid crappie in the spring.

Since then I have spoken with several anglers have found pockets of crappie and bass in that system.

Back in 1997, when I first started writing for this publication, the late, great Ed Holder who passed the outdoors writing baton to me the next year took be into the middle of nowhere in the Keith Lake chain to sight case for redfish.

I will never forget watching redfish swim around with largemouth bass with the Sea Rim State Park headquarters in the background. We were within viewing distance of the beach and looking at bass. In fact one of them was about three pounds.

Last month, I wrote about the big blue catfish commonly caught in the lower end of the Neches River but there have been a few big ones caught in Sabine Lake over the years. One tipped the scales at more than 30 pounds.

Last year, surf fishing guru Marcus Heflin of Christian Surf Fishing Adventures caught a five foot long garfish in the surf at Sea Rim. It was the first gar I ever heard of caught there although my suspicions have always been they were present.

As a youngster, I had a Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine with a story about Sea Rim and a fishing map of the area that showed good spots to catch certain species. One area was marked for garfish which always puzzled me. Heflin solved it.

There are gar there, at least a few of them.

Occasionally someone will encounter a tarpon at the jetties. Frank and I saw one in Old River Cove in the summer of 1998 feeding on a school of mullet. It was a five footer and wouldn’t touch a lure.

Sharks surprise anglers by taking their speckled trout or redfish in Sabine Lake and every once in a while someone encounters something really unusual like a manta ray around the jetties or short rigs.

Part of the excitement of our local fishing scene is you never know what you’re going to catch or where you’re going to catch it.


For some reason I cannot get my mind off that big red near Bluebird’s. I’m thinking maybe I need to take one of my big saltwater crankbaits and work the shorelines.

Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.


Source: Port Arthur News


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