catfishing techniques jugs trot lines in the spread fishing dwayne hickey
Apr 10, 2019

Catfishing Techniques | Jugs & Trot Lines | Dwayne Hickey

Anytime I plan a spring camping trip, jugs and lines are always part of the plan. These simple catfishing techniques will pay big. Cats are plentiful here in the south and there's no better way stock the freezer than setting jugs, limb lines and trot lines. Having your ducks in a row and getting all the equipment ready for the trip is what makes the difference. I've had good catches on the standard 50 hook set trot lines in April and May. You can buy these ready to go rigs at most any Walmart. Even better catfish rigs are the "home made" lines made up using strong twine. Here in the nursery capital of the world, I have access to some great trot line material. It takes time and effort to tie a 50 hook set but these home made trot lines are durable and when placed in the right spots, can produce MY T FINE results!


I like setting lines on the first or second points heading into a creek. Setting lines across or near channels is a great place to get ole whiskers. Bluff areas that change into rock or mud banks are also great areas to set lines.


Live bait such as bluegill or big creek minnows are best if flathead catfish are your target. For channel and blue catfish, bait your line with fresh cut bait or shrimp for best results. Tie on a weight (brick, block) about halfway down the line to keep fish from swimming to far once hooked.


Jugs(noodles) are another fantastic way to catch catfish. Use the same baits as with a trot line, depending on what catfish you are trying to catch. In the early and late spring I use fresh shrimp for best results. Fresh cut baitfish is also effective. Set jugs out starting in the backs of creeks and work your way out to main lake points. Depth of line for shrimp and cut bait should be three to six feet but for flathead catfish go down ten feet or deeper as water in the creeks deepens closer to the main lake.


Whether you're using 2 liter bottles or any type gallon jug,(completely rinsed clean) be sure to use a strong swivel attached to the staging line. Catfish are notorious for spinning and making a mess of your line. Even better, use swimming noodles cut to 24 inches. Use a piece of 3/4 inch plastic pipe cut to 26 inches. Slide the pipe inside noodle until it is flush. Drill a small hole in the left over 2 inches of pipe, and then insert a small eye bolt in the hole. You can now attach staging line to your noodle. Use at least 80 pound line, but much stronger is advised. Noodles will cost a few dollars more and take more time to rig, but they save tons space compared to gallon jugs.


Limb lines are another way to catch all species of catfish. The same rule applies when it comes to bait. Flathead catfish mainly feed on live fish, i.e. sun perch, bluegill and shad. Full moon periods are the best time limb lines. I'll tie my lines on stout, limber tree limbs when possible. Live sun perch are my favorite but anything that can stay alive and "frisky" like bluegill will also work on flat skulls. I hook through the back and let the perch down about a foot. The bait will put out more vibrations the more it moves around the surface. Like a dinner bell.


Jugs and lines go great with camping. Especially if you have at least one partner to help out with setting and checking your lines, cleaning your catch, and keeping enough good live or fresh bait on hand. If you're a night owl camper, go out and " run the lines" around 1:00 a.m. and rebait. It takes some planning ahead to make the most of your efforts but believe me the rewards can be big.


Be sure to check local laws pertaining to trot lines, limb lines or jugs/noodles. There is one more thing to be added. ALWAYS take your lines with you when it's time to leave. There's nothing more frustrating than getting tangled in a limb line or frontline that has been left behind. I've seen dead fish hanging on old lines and even dead birds. Enjoy the water friends and leave it better than you found it!


Dwayne Hickey


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