Trotline depth

Will a trotline work in both deep and shallow water?

Of all of the huge number of possible methods employed to catch catfish, a significant volume of these are “unmanned” fishing techniques, of which trotlining is one of the true originals, and still a favourite among seasoned catfish pros. One of the main advantages that these fishermen rely on, is the fact that a trotline, stretched across a cove, for example, starts and ends on the shore on either side, but it covers the whole body of water, and sweeps down through a significant cross-section of water depth, and back up, on the other side. With a hook leader (a “drop”) set every several feet along its length, at, say, four or six foot intervals, the trotline will be presenting baits to a huge number of fish, at every depth and location in the waterway. Especially, trotlining for cats is favoured in the South, where the huge Flathead Catfish, normally found in the deepest sections of the river, will come up into shallow water to feed at night, and so, are often caught on a trotline which has been set there.
The main factor in trotlining, is to keep the line tight, and to keep it suspended just off of the bottom for most of its length, if you can, to cover the greatest range of depths. Trotlines can be set from bank-to-bank, as described above, or, they can be set from a bank anchor, or even a buoy, to a deep-water anchor, set out in the midst of the waterway, so checking your bottom conditions for snags, and adjusting the angle of the trotline to the bottom, to avoid fouling it on the bottom, or structure there, while still keeping it near the action, is critical, in deciding how to set the line.

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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