Jug Fishing for Cats

By: Daniel Eggertsen

Of all of the numerous tried and true methods for hauling in a big catfish, jug fishing, or "juggin'" is one of the most popular among seasoned catfishermen. Jug fishing's simple approach and high return, combined with the low cost of the materials needed to make a jug fishing rig, make it popular among a great many anglers everywhere, both for sport, and for commercial fisheries, too. Jug fishing's main advantage is that it can be carried on, unattended, leaving the fisherman free to set more jug lines, or tend the ones that are taking fish. Also, free-floating jugs can cover a great deal of water area. As a result, jug fishing is usually highly productive, and a great way for families or groups to engage in catfishing, especially if kids or beginners are involved.

Jug fishing is best practiced in mild-current rivers, and pond or lake conditions, as too fast of a current will take the jugs away quickly, making their retrieval difficult.

The basic strategy of jug fishing is simple - set up a series of jug fishing rigs, float them out over a wide area of water, possibly with different baits, slung at different depths, and see what comes calling. Then, after you get a bite, if you're really keen, you can bring in the non-producing jug rigs, and re-set them with the successful bait and depth combination, which will then keep you very busy hauling in fish.

Building a jug fishing rig is simple. To make one, you will need some sort of powerful float (the jug), a length of heavy trot line, a couple of hooks, a weight, and your favourite bait.

First, a word on jugs. As the name implies, the original floats used in this technique were, and often still are, empty jugs of some description. Pop bottles, bleach bottles, or any empty, sealed container will do. Plastic containers are best, due to lower weight and greater durability than glass.

Commercially manufactured products are also available for jug fishing, many of which are smaller, lighter and easier to manage than the conventional standbys. Admittedly, 20 bleach bottles in your boat takes up a lot of space. It should be noted, too, that many jurisdictions have regulations on the types of fish than can be jugfished for, the design of the rig, and the color of the jug - usually, white is the rule. Check your local regs, though, before setting out on a jug fishing expedition, or any fishing trip, to make certain you are fishing legally.

To build the rig, you will need to make a couple of decisions regarding the length of the jug line. Ideally, you want the jug line to float freely, but the deepest end of the rig should be close to the bottom, maybe two to three feet above it. If you don't know how long to run your lines, try making a few of different lengths, and setting them out across your fishing area - some will get more attention than others. Having decided on the length of the lines to run, cut your jug lines accordingly. Fasten one end of a line to the neck of the jug, or to the fastening point, on a commercial product. On the other end, tie a reasonable weight, enough to keep the line down, but not so much that it overly tensions the line, or over-weights the jug.

Now, tie two hooks on each jug line, one, about a foot or two above the weight, and one, maybe six feet above the weight - Palomar knots work well for this. This system puts two hooks in the water, lays twice the bait out, and sets baits at differing depths, to cover as many bases as possible. Further, if the line floats into shallower water, while the sinker and one bait may end up out of commission, the higher hook will usually still be in a position to get a bite.

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