John's Journal...

Kids and Catfish

Day 3: Family Jugging

Click for larger ViewJugging for cats is an inexpensive, family affair and has always been on the list of our family's favorite outdoor activities. My children, John, Hunter and Kate, are jug-fishing enthusiasts who consider themselves masters of the sport. They start out trying to find a supply of jugs to add to the ones we keep on-hand. We are very particular about our jugs we use for catfishing and not just any jug will do.  Big plastic jugs like gallon-milk jugs and gallon-bleach bottles are too big.  If these jugs are used for catfishing, they will be blown all over a lake, if any wind is present. We prefer the smaller pint and quart jugs that may have held detergent, bleach, milk or soft drinks.  The color of the jug is very important also.  A clear-plastic jug can be hard to see, where as a bright red or an orange jug is easy to spot. If finding the right color of jugs is difficult, we spray fluorescent-orange paint on our clear jugs to help us locate them. After we've collected our jugs from friends and neighbors and raided garbage cans and Laundromats, we start tying our lines.  At night, we all get together and sit on the floor.  We use 25-pound test line to tie either to the necks or to the handles of our jugs.

Click for Lerger ViewWe think the length of the line is very important to our catfishing success.  When we’re planning to fish an area where we don’t know how deep the catfish may be, we tie different lengths of lines onto our jugs.  Some of the lines only may be 3- or 4-feet long, while other lines may be 10- to 12-feet long.  We also make-up extra lines - both long and short.  Then when we get to the lake, we can change-out the lines on our jugs, if we find the catfish are feeding deeper or more-shallow.

After the lines are tied, we attach a piece of medium-size shot lead about 8-to 10-inches from the end of the line. We like No. 1 hooks, which are small enough to catch catfish that weigh about 1 pound and large enough to hold a 20- or a 30-pound big cat.  Once we have the lines and the hooks on our jugs, we then wrap the lines around the jugs and use a piece of plastic tape to hold the hooks on the jugs and keep them from sticking anybody or anything. The day before we head for the lake we catch our bait. Oftentimes we'll go to a creek and catch crawfish. Sometimes we'll seine minnows or put-out our minnow traps to take minnows.  Many times we'll dig worms or catch grasshoppers.  Or, if we must, we'll buy some bait from the bait store.

Click for Larger ViewThen with our bait and jugs in hand, we'll head for the lake. Most states permit jug fishing for cats.  However, before you plan a trip, check with your state's department of conservation to make certain that jugging is legal in your region. At the lake, we usually talk to the marina operator and get his suggestions on where we should put our jugs out.  The placement of our jugs will vary depending on the time of the year. We generally attempt to put out 25 to 100 jugs at a time.  After we talk to the boat-dock operator, we take the tape off the hooks, put the baits on and throw the jugs out. Once all the jugs are floating on the water, we watch them carefully like a shepherd tends his flock. When a catfish attacks, the jug will tip-up, sometimes dive-down and begin to run-off.  That's when we chase the jug with our boat.

Landing the catfish requires skill.  Oftentimes the catfish won’t be hooked well.  Or, if the catfish is a big one, and you try to horse it in, either you will straighten the hook, or the catfish will break free.  The best method to use to land a catfish on a jug is to pick the jug up.  Then very-gently lead the fish to the surface where you can slip a dip net under it. If the cat sees the boat and decides to dive suddenly, let the jug go. The pressure of the floating jugs will be enough to stop the fish's run and allow you to catch it again.  If you try and hold the catfish when it runs, often the hook will tear free or straighten-out and release the cat.  The best tactic is to lead the fish to the boat slowly. If the fish runs, let it have the jug back.  Then try again.

Click for Larger ViewIn a productive catfish area, a family-fishing expedition often may bring-in 20 to 100 pounds of catfish at a time depending on how the fish are biting.  Kate, John, Hunter and I have as much fun getting our jugs together, painting them, tying our lines and capturing our bait as we do fishing the jugs.  On the next pretty day, get yourself some jugs and go cat-catching.

For more information on how you too can take your children and grandchildren on a catfishing trip of a lifetime and have plenty of good groceries to eat when you get home, go to, or call Blue Bank Resort at 1-877-258-3226.

Catfish Like a ProTo learn more about how to catch catfish, click here, or go to, and type in the name of the book, “Catfish Like a Pro” to buy it. Too, you can download a Kindle app for free and buy the book from Amazon to read it on your iPad, Smartphone or computer.

Tomorrow: Expert Jugging for Catfish with Carl Morris

Check back each day this week for more about "Kids and Catfish"

Day 1: Kids Are All About Catching
Day 2: Jugging for Catfish
Day 3: Family Jugging
Day 4: Expert Jugging for Catfish with Carl Morris
Day 5: More Expert Tips on Jugging for Catfish with Carl Morris

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Entry 667, Day 3