Line Up for a Good Time

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Published on: Jul. 15, 2014

Have you ever run a trotline, or chased a jug as it dips and dances from the pull of a big fish? If not, you are missing out on a great way to introduce kids to fishing, have fun with family and friends, and enjoy a great meal of fresh catfish, too.

When most people talk fishing, they talk rods, reels, jigs, and plugs. But there’s another style of catfishing, by alternative methods, that is unlike any other. In regard to catching catfish, this means limb lines, jug lines, trotlines, throwlines, and bank lines. (See fishing methods in Chapter 6 of the Wildlife Code). With these methods, the line and hooks are attached or fixed in place and left overnight or fished in one area for an extended period of time. The only exception is jug lines that can either be anchored or free floating. You should take note that in all of these methods, gear must be attended at least once every 24 hours with the exception of floating jug lines, which must be attended at all times on streams and at least once per hour on lakes. All gear must also be labeled with your full name and address or Conservation ID number.

Getting Started


Trotlines come in many forms. Trotlines have one or both ends tied to a fixed object.

They can be tied between two trees, or with one end attached to a tree or large rock on the bank and the far end weighted in the water.

A trotline is made up of one main line and a series of dropper lines with hooks. The main line needs to be heavy enough to handle more than one fish. The dropper lines, sometimes called stagings, hold the hooks. Braided nylon line works best and won’t unravel like other lines. Main lines in the range of #24 (210-pound test) and dropper lines around line #18 (165-pound test) are heavy enough for multiple large catfish.

The main line is stretched horizontal and the dropper lines hang vertical from the main line. Dropper lines are required to be spaced no less than two feet apart from each other along the main line. You’ll want to keep droppers this far apart, otherwise two fish next to each other can make a real tangled mess. It’s best to attach the dropper line to the main line with a heavy barrel swivel. Some catfish, especially blues, will twist and

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