Successful catfish catchers know where the cats are, what they want to eat, and which method of angling will put the catfish on their tables.

This method of fishing for cats varies from state to state and person to person. I know men in Mississippi and Louisiana who go into the swamps bare-footed and overall-clad, dive down into the black, murky water to find a big cat in a hollow stump and wrestle the cat to the surface. In other states, picnic lunches on the edge of a stream with six or 10 poles set out is the more conventional way to wait for a catfish dinner. Anglers often have little choice of method. Some states ban trotlines, and others have strict regulations on the use of them. Just as forbidden in some regions are limb lines and set poles. However, the rod and the reel or the cane pole is almost universally acceptable. Catfishing has such a wide appeal for several reasons. Catfish are inexpensive to angle for and they are delicious to eat and fun to catch. Here are some helpful hints if these methods are permitted in your state. Be sure to check with your local department of conservation on regulations for catching catfish.


Trotlines and hooks to fish an entire season usually can be purchased for under $25. Be sure to anchor the line, so it will float the bait just off the bottom. Use a rock anchor to hold the main line down for the best results. Buoys like Styrofoam or jugs can be used to support the line off the bottom. Because of this arrangement, the drops and the hooks will be close to the bottom but not on the bottom. Vary your baits and depths, until you discover what depths and baits are preferred. Always check state regulations too as to the number of hooks permitted and the size and the type of line required. Trotlines have the big advantage of being reusable over several years. They also can be picked up and moved to other spots with little trouble.


Jug fishing is a fun activity that can involve the entire family. Children seem to enjoy raiding laundromats and garbage cans for plastic, quart detergent and bleach bottles. These jugs can be strung with monofilament, weights and hooks for only pennies. By putting each family member’s name on different jugs, a competition can be held as to whose jug catches the most cats. Don’t forget to vary the depth of the lines and the baits to help you decide where the cats are ranging, and what food source they favor. A jug that floats downstream or sits quietly in a slough or a pond is fishing for catfish, while the family is recreating. For something a little different, try night jugging. Cats seem to feed better at night. Moonlight jugging is a good way to beat the summer heat.

For more catfishing tips and tricks, check out last week’s post on the best baits to use.

Images copyright John Phillips

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