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 TROTLINES FOR CATFISH AND CATFISH TROTLINES

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Trotlines

 


(Please note, this is the correct term and spelling of trotline, it is not a trot line or trout line).

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Trotlines are basically a means of getting a lot of hooks in the water with a few people. I love fishing trotlines because you can really pull in large numbers of good sized fish, They are great fun to run. The only drawbacks of trotlines are that if you are not experienced they can be somewhat cumbersome to get setup and in the right location. They can also be dangerous if you are not careful.

The key to trotlines like any other method is location. First you have to locate a good spot to set the trotline out, BUT with a trotline you have to consider that you are going to have 150 Feet of line and 25 hooks dangling across the water. One of the keys to successful trotlining is putting the line in a location that it will not get caught up in a boat motor, or anything else. A prop will rip a line to shreds instantly, and whats left of it a pissed off boatowner will likely destroy AFTER he gets done pulling all your torn up hooks and line out of his prop.

Again make sure you are familiar with local laws. Running an illegal trotline can get you a date with a Game Warden really quick.

You have two options as far as equipment. You can buy the trotlines at a store, (which typically involves tieing the hooks on only) or build it from the ground up. If you have never used trotlines before just go buy one and use it and make sure it is right for you before going to the trouble to build your own. You can purchase several different brands and grades of trotlines. You can get a decent ready made trotline with hooks and all for about $8 like the  Bass Pro Shops Deluxe Trotline or these trotlines on ebay.

You can also purchase some heavier trotlines that are good quality on ebay but other than that they are hard to find. Look at the bottom of this page and I have added some links to trotlines and trotline supplies so you can build your own trotlines.

The biggest advantage of building your own trotlines is that you get a heavier grade trotline if you are primarily targeting smaller catfish then lines like the Bass Pro Shops Deluxe Trotline are  sufficient. If you are going after monster flatheads or blues, you will want to build your own lines. I will try and include more information on building your own trotlines at a later time. The disadvantages of building your own are that it is very time consuming, you have to be very careful to make sure you are within legal lengths and spacing.
If you are fishing the "bassin hot spots" like Lake Fork and Ray Roberts and these die hard bass fisherman find your trotline, some of them will take a knife to it because they are against them. I only say this because it has happened to me on more than one occasion. I usually stick to the commercially manufactured trotlines one these "hot spot" lakes for this reason.

If decide to go ahead and build your own trotlines, the best advice I can offer is to make sure all of your spacing and leaders are legal lengths, and use good quality brads and heavy brass barrel swivels. A cat will twist and turn a line on a trotline without barrel swivels until he breaks the line. Either way the decision is yours. If you are wanting a really HEAVY DUTY trotline for catfishing then you will have to build your own or look at my links below. I try to update them as frequent as possible and any reference will say heavy duty. 

In addition to the trotline you will need some good weights. You can use cinder blocks if you wish but they can get a little pricy. I build my weights from empty 1 gallon cans, cement, and coathangers and can build six or eight of them for the price of one cinder block. I get the cans from a restaurant at no charge, the hangars are all over the house, and cement runs around $2 for sand mix that is ready to use. It does not take long to build these weights. You can get away with one or two weights per 150 foot trotline.

Just remember, the bigger the fish, the bigger the weight will need to be. If you are going to attempt to target the big uns, you will need a big weight. I know one guy who weights his down with two manhole covers, let me tell ya, you have to be a pretty big guy to wrestle a trotline up to a boat being weighted down with fish and two manhole covers. (And don't everybody go out and start stealing manhole covers).



 

Place your trotline in the selected area and tie off both ends. Leave enough slack in the line to get it down to the bottom and make sure you have both ends tied well. You have to remember that you could potentially have 25 fish on 25 hooks and you do NOT want that line to break free, there is no straightening out that mess. Not only will you lose your trotline and all the fish but the fish will likely die.

I like to weight my lines in the middle and if I need two weights I will place a weight on either side around 15 feet or 20 feet from each end. You will need some good braided nylon twine or rope to hold the weight onto the trotline. If you use cinder blocks, remember that the sharp edge of the block is going to rub against the twine and it will often cut it, which can quickly become a mess.

Once you are all rigged you can begin baiting. It helps to have two people in the boat, one person helps manage the line and pull you along it while the other baits. You have to communicate with each other and watch what is going on because you can quickly catch a hook in your forearm or elsewhere if you are not careful.

Baiting the trotline can be done with a number of different baits. You need to target the bait to the species you are fishing but remember that you are baiting at least 25 hooks. (if you are like me and running several trotlines buying expensive bait would break you real quick). Trotlining for channel cats you can use minnows, shad, night crawlers or any other bait than channel cats like. Some people use punch baits or livers on their lines but they are not likely to stay on the hooks. You have to keep in mind that if you hook onto several cats at once, they are gonna be thrashing around and shaking that line, thus you need to have a good bait that is gonna stay on the hook.

 

Once the lines are baited carefully work them into the water so you don't throw all your bait off and your off to use your rod and reel or juglines or whatever else you wish to do. You can check your trotline in a few hours if you wish. It works really well to set your lines an hour or two before dusk, and then run them once in the middle of the night, and rebait, and then run them again the next morning. If you cannot do the night run, definately check the next morning because you are likely to find fish.

If you set a line out and decide to leave it in the water, and do not plan on checking it within twelve hours, pull your bait off the hooks. Once you get a good system going it is pretty easy to get your trotlines in and out of the water.

Good luck and enjoy. This is one of the funnest ways to catch kitties!

Still looking for more information on catching catfish with trotlines? Go to Learn To Catch Catfish and read our trotline articles there.

Links To Trotlines and Trotline Supplies

I have not personally used these Bass Pro Shops trotlines but I have been told by other site visitors that the deluxe trotline is decent quality. if you will be using your line for BIG catfish I would still suggest building your own or looking at ebay (link below). The tarred nylon twine, twisted nylon twine and braided nylone twine from Bass Pro are good for making your own lines. The Mustad hooks and Eagle Claw hooks are in my opinion the best hooks for trotlines, I prefer the Eagle Claw Circle Sea because they are cheaper.

Bass Pro Shops Deluxe Trotline
Bass Pro Shops Nylon Trotline
Bass Pro Shops Trotline Clips
Mariner Green Braided Nylon Twine
Twisted Nylon Seine Twine
Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Circle Sea Offset Circle Hooks - Model L197
Bass Pro Shops Barrel Swivel




 

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Catfish Bait for juglines and trotlines

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CatfishFishingGuide.com - Guided Fishing In North Texas
Redneck's Juglines for Jug Fishing Catfish
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