I grew up in my teen years where I had total freedom to hunt and fish in Pennsylvania, and in Pennsylvania jug fishing is illegal (many things are illegal in Pennsylvania that don’t make sense by the way).
In any event when you grow up where something is illegal you often form a negative image of it. So growing up I came to believe that jug fishing was akin to gill netting, which I am pretty sure the folks at PA Fish and Game actually do believe.
When I moved to Texas I saw jug fishing gear on the shelves at stores and started asking about it. I learned it was a very productive way to fish but certainly not some indiscriminate method of killing millions of fish or fishing a lake to extinction.
The primary fish targeted (and legal by the way) with jug are catfish and rough fish. Rough fish include things like drum, carp and gar. In most states where jugs are legal gear anything else must be released and there are regulations about how often your jugs must be checked, additionally in most states all jugs must labeled with your name and contact information.
Before engaging in any activity covered in this podcast check your local and state regulations. Any specific law I mention in this podcast will be a Texas law and you should not assume that it applies to you.
Additionally, even in states were jug fishing is legal, some bodies of water have specific regulations. Such as size or bag limits that are different from the state normal regs, and this can at times apply to jug fishing. I also know some lakes in my area where jug fishing is legal but it isn’t legal in certain areas of the lake.
As best I can tell at least 20 of our 50 states allow jug fishing in some way, shape or form. Most, not all southern states do. And to be fair our catfish populations in the south grow and reproduce faster than in many northern states.
I want to also add something many people fail to realize, in many states what is illegal on public land is totally legal on private land, you do need to confirm this first. Additionally though, if you own or your buddy owns 30 acres with a 2 acre pond surrounded by woods, how often do you expect to be checked by a fish warden said pond? I am not suggesting anyone do anything illegal, I am though pointing out that jug fishing is not like “fishing in a barrel” it isn’t magic and it is definitely a survival skill, one that may be needed some day, so if there is a way to learn it, you may wish to.
Lastly much as in about 90% of what I will cover today also applies with some adaptation to trot lines and limb lines, and in many states were jugs are illegal, trot or limb lines or both are legal, again check your local and state regs before doing any of this.
Join Me Today to Discuss…
- What types of jug fishing are there and why do we use them
- Anchored jugs
- Drifting jugs
- The basic components of a jug line
- The jug – swim noodles, plastic bottles, etc.
- The main line – tarred bank line is best
- The fishing line – go heavy with mono
- The hooks – some use octopus hook or circles, I prefer O’Shaughnessy for holding power
- Swivels – if you don’t have them you will hate your life
- Anchor – should not be heavy enough to sink the jug, use half brick or one pound dumbbell
- The basics of constructing a jugline
- Dropper loops
- I recommend one hook per jug for a very good reason
- Constructing a flagging jug line
- Bait choices for catfish
- Prepared bait
- Cut Bait – sunfish is great
- Live Bait
- Hot Dogs
- Primary jugging methods
- Long unmonitored sets
- Short unmonitored sets
- Actively watched sets
- Drifting with your jugs
- My process for setting, checking and running a jug set
- Have at least 2x the number of hooks/leaders as you do jugs, 2.5 is better
- One driver one setter/retriever in a boat
- Get enough leaders set with bait for all jugs (exception for live baits)
- Deploy jugs, decide on depth from bottom, use rubber band trick for excess line
- Let jugs set
- Bait your next set of leaders before running your line
- On the “run” your setter, pulls in line, removes leader, adds new leader, drops anchor
- Wash rinse repeat until you are done or want to try a new spot
- Why I love this sport
Resources for today’s show…
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