By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
What do you get when you combine the mobile versatility of the rod and reel with the mass hook presentation of the trotline, all on the hidden creeks and rivers found throughout our state? A lot of catfish in the cooler, that’s what.
The practice of jug fishing combines equal parts art and science and can deliver some of the most enjoyable days or nights on the water one may ever spend. Jug fishing, especially in moving water, can really keep the excitement going because you never know what may be waiting for you on the next float down the way.
Originally, as the name suggests, this technique was developed using assorted empty containers, usually plastic two-liter soda bottles or the like. By attaching a length of sturdy waxed nylon or similar line to the neck and suspending a weight and a hook beneath, catfish enthusiasts could make a variety of presentations over a long course of water very inexpensively.
The chief drawbacks of this style of jug were two-fold: they took up a lot of space in the boat and, once deployed, they caught crosswinds like miniature parachutes and became tangled in the sticks and stumps along the water’s edge more than necessary. That’s where the use of the pool noodle came in.
Toys no more
The foam pool toys sold by the gross every summer are very cheap and fairly durable. Cut into two-foot lengths, they make a great foundation for catfishing gear. Once you’ve selected your noodles and cut them to length, reinforce them with a piece of PVC pipe through the middle and cap the pipe’s ends. This makes the construction both buoyant and rigid, and the end cap can serve as a solid point to dally the fishing line and set the depth.
rigged and ready
To the middle of the float, tie a long piece of the heavy fishing line of your choice. The waxed nylon common to trotlines is a solid pick. Make this line considerably longer than you plan to use for fishing.
This will allow you to adjust the depth of your fishing, and also afford you plenty of backing to cut free any floats that are irretrievably snagged on underwater objects, then re-rig on the spot to continue fishing.
When you’re ready to put out your floats, rig them at a variety of depths, bearing in mind the longer you make the drops, the more often you’re apt to get snagged, and a snagged float isn’t going to catch fish.
Once you catch one or two, adjust your other drops to whatever length the successful depth proved to be. Although catfish are usually thought of as bottom-feeders, this technique can show otherwise, and even the biggest cats can often be taken quite shallow. Bait with cut shad or other traditional catfish fare.
So rigged, the noodle-floats ride low in the water and won’t catch the wind nearly as readily as empty soda bottles.
When one hooks a fish, it stands on end and bounces like a tall cork, making it easy to spot for retrieval.