Trotline Factoids

Hi Dan.My name is Jesse.I use to a alot of trotline fishing with my father back home in creeks and rivers.I now live in north Texas and have set some trotline in the lake where I live.Well not realy true trotlines more then less droplines.I tie one end of the line to a stump in the lake with about 10 to 20 hooks on it and wieghts every so many feet.This works ok,but most of the time the lines or fish are stolen off of them.I have heard of people setting trotlines right on the bottom of the lake before.I would like to know how to do it.That way I could set my lines in deeper water since it is hard to find a tree stump in deep water and maybe no one can steal my lines.Any help on this would be very helpful to me. Thank you Jesse Starkey

Setting trotlines near the bottom in deeper water sounds like a good idea, but unfortunately, due to Texas Regulations, it couldn’t be done legally. Texas has many regulations about trotline construction, hook spacing, uses, allowable species, tagging requirements and such. Here is an excerpt from the current Texas 2008 Fishing Regulations: Trotlines In Fresh Water Tag Requirements: Must be used with a valid Gear Tag. Properly marked buoys or floats qualify as valid gear tags. Gear tags must be attached within 3 feet of the first hook at each end of the trotline and are valid for 30 days after the date set out. Construction and Design Restrictions: May not have more than 50 hooks on any one trotline. Placement and Location Restrictions: Trotlines may not be used in Community Fishing Lakes Reservoirs or sections of rivers lying totally within the boundaries of a state park Lake Bastrop in Bastrop County Bellwood Lake in Smith County Lake Bryan in Brazos County Boerne City Lake in Kendall County Lakes Coffee Mill and Davy Crockett in Fannin County Dixieland Reservoir in Cameron County Gibbons Creek Reservoir in Grimes County North Concho River from O.C. Fisher dam to the Bell Street dam Lake Pflugerville in Travis County Pinkston Reservoir in Shelby County South Concho River from Lone Wolf dam to Bell Street dam Tankersley Reservoir in Titus County Trotline: A non-metallic main fishing line with more than five hooks attached and with each end attached to a fixture. Nongame fish, channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish may be taken by trotline. Red drum, spotted seatrout, and sharks caught on a trotline may not be retained or possessed. General Construction and Design Restrictions: Trotlines may not be used with a mainline length exceeding 600 feet; hooks spaced less than 3 horizontal feet apart; metallic stakes; or the main fishing line and attached hooks and stagings placed above the water’s surface. Gear Tag: A tag constructed of material as durable as the device to which it is attached. The gear tag must be legible, contain the name and address of the person using the device and the date the device was set out. Date is not required for saltwater trotlines or crab traps. For juglines and freshwater trotlines, properly marked buoys or floats qualify as valid gear tags. As you can see, since the Gear Tag must be placed within 3′ of the first hook, and must be visible ABOVE the waterline, that precludes fishing deep water with a trotline. There is a question as to the meaning of the first hook. It could mean within 3′ of the first hook LEADER, instead of the actual hook, but unless you plan on using 30-50 -foot leaders, which would be ridiculously impractical, I can’t see how you be able to fish deep with trotlines, and still be legal. Losing fish to lowlife thieves is a fact of life with trotlines. It is a shame, but there is not much you can do about it. With luck, they will just take your fish, and leave the trotline undamaged. The best thing is to just grin and bear it, and stay within the law. Happy Fishing!


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

3 Responses to “Trotline Factoids”

  1. Wayne says:

    I have been reading the Texas regs for freshwater trotline and I dont think it says anywhere that the gear tag must be ABOVE the waterline. So if you wanted to set a trotline deep could you just put your first and last hook within three feet of your float and then the second hook would be down near the bottom. Third hook 3′ from second hook and so on till you get to the other end.
    The regs do not say anything about the maximum spacing distant, it just says they cant be less than 3′ apart. Could you do it that way? Please correct me if Im mistaken.

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  3. last says:

    , you should go to lake livingston,onalaska tx. and ask or go out with any ole trotliner there even if you have to pay him LOL, they will know how to do it. use car rims to anchor line on each end placed on bottom and run longlines for get 3 ft apart for hooks go to 9 or more feet apart if you want to catch cats. dont forget to tag and date your tag or write it on float , attached close to first hook on line ,change date every month. now you know nuff to get you going the correct way. if you are tie to brush and close or off of bank you are asking to get it cut or robbed , lure fishermen dont like you doing this and will cut you off . fish open water run line with lake mark your line so folks wont get in it with there line you wont have any problems .

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