Five techniques to catch more Florida catfish

Catfish are very popular with anglers all over the U.S. and they are widely available. Florida catfish can be even better than in other locations. That is because of the weather conditions and warm waters that give the fish fertile spawning grounds for catfish. In Florida you will find a different variety of catfish then other areas. In Florida the cat fishing will produce either yellow bullhead catfish or brown bullheads. While these are not the largest species in the world they are many in Florida. There are also flathead and blue catfish that have travelled to the area.

Certain Areas
There are certain areas of the state that have higher concentrations of catfish and provide the best opportunities for fishermen. The St. John River Basin is a great place to find a great number of yellow and brown bullheads and some channel and white catfish. The best place on the river is between Lake George and Buckman Bridge. You should really pay a visit to Lake George that has the best cat fishing. Another great location if Oklawaha River. Here you can fish below the Rodman Dam and at Black Creek in the Middleburg area.

Jug Fishing
A jug line is a large float that has a fishing line hanging down in the water. Then baited hooks are set at intervals on the line and are anchored or free floating. Jug lines can be homemade or bought bare or with the hooks. This technique is one of the better ones to introduce kids to cat fishing. You have to check the jug lines in the different areas so if the child argues that fishing is boring then bring out the jugs. If you’re not worried about keeping the kids happy then you can check the jug lines at night or in the morning. You can set them in the morning and check them during the day. Then you can do other things while fishing. Just make sure you check your jugs regularly to keep the fish alive and healthy especially in the warmer months. The anchored jug lines will prevent the jug from drifting across the water. It will keep the fish from hauling the jug everywhere which could injure them or your equipment. Free floating jugs have lead sinkers or other things on the ends, but they can still float. If you’re free floating stay close so you don’t lose the fish or your jug.

Trotlines
Trotlines are very popular in catching catfish. Just secure one end of the trotline to a stump, bank or tree on the water’s edge. Weights are attached to the trotline in the middle to keep it submerged and to stop larger catfish from dragging the line. Trotlines are usually between 50 to 100 feet long. You would need around 25-50 hooks on the line.

Remember the line is long and sharp! You will need this gear:
-thick gloves
-needle nose pliers
-a net
-weights and floaters
-a knife

When the line is set you can bait it using secure bait that won’t fall off from the fish tugging on it. It is better to do this in shallow and medium waters and keep the lines away from swimming and fishing areas.

Throw Lines
Catfish throw lines get the hooks in the water easily without a big ordeal. You can throw them from the shore, boat and river bank. One end has a weight and the other is attached to a tree or other object. Then just throw it in and get your fish. Most lines are 25-30 feet long with 5-15 hooks. To keep the line from tangling stretches it out on the bank along the water. Then bait the hooks and tie the end on your chosen weight. Pitch it side arm and don’t jerk it back. Most states make you tag the line with your name and date. Check the line every few hours and re-bait.

Limb Lines
Limb lines are useful when you don’t have a boat. A limb line is like a rope swing that hangs over a pond or river. It gets lowered to the water with bait to catch the fish. The real trick to Limb Line fishing is finding the right tree.
You need to find a tree that is flexible, young and hangs low over the water. You don’t want an older limb that will crack and break from the weight of your catch.

Here are some tips for limb line fishing:
-alternate the bait and the hook
-tie live bait below the water so the bait makes noise to attract the catfish
-drop artificial baits deep
-try different baits on each limb you set to find out which one works the best

The fact is that flathead catfish can get quite big. You should use large, heavy hooks or circle hooks. Flatheads can flatten J-style hooks on limb lines. Check the limb lines every few hours. These are the easiest lines to set and sink over and over for more and more fish.


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

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