John's Journal...

Kids and Catfish

Day 4: Expert Jugging for Catfish with Carl Morris

Editor’s Note: Fifty-one-year-old Carl Morris of Florence, Alabama, is known as a catfish guru.  After fishing for catfish for three decades and now fishing fulltime, year-round since retiring, Morris has learned not only where big catfish live but also where the frying-size cats are. 

Click for Larger ViewClick for larger ViewMorris has taken large numbers of 50-pound catfish and then releases them after he photographs them. Morris has developed a technique to pinpoint a honey hole where the catfish are holding, once he knows a general area homes catfish. "Big cats seem to stack-up at one specific location,” Morris explains.  "Once I know where that place is, I often can catch four or five catfish weighing over 50-pounds each out of a small region.” Morris determines the location of catfish by using quart bleach bottles.  He ties one end of a 12-foot, 50-pound-test line to the neck of a bleach bottle.  Next he attaches a 1-ounce lead.  At the bottom of the line, he ties on a No. 2/0hook. "I use a live shad for bait," Morris says.  "I put the hook through the shad's back, once through the base of the top fin and then behind the fish's top fin.  I bury the hook in the shad at the base of the shad's stomach cavity.  Then I cut the shad below the stomach cavity to make it bleed."

Morris uses seven jugs rigged alike to find the big catfish in the region.  He puts the jugs in a line across the lake or river and lets the current carry the jugs through his honey hole.  Then he anchors-down and waits for the action to begin.  When a big catfish sinks one of the jugs, Morris goes immediately to that site and drops a marker buoy. "Then when I fish with my deep-sea fishing rod and reel, I know exactly where to fish for the catfish," Morris reports.

Once I encouraged him, Morris told me the story about the biggest catfish he ever caught.  "In July of 1992, I was fishing my secret spot on a river.  When the fish took the jug, I realized I had-on a monster.  I had fished for these big catfish for so long that I usually could tell within 2 or3 pounds how much the fish would weigh from the way the fish took the jug.  Click for Larger ViewI knew a big catfish would stand the bleach bottle up easily, before beginning to slowly pull the jug underwater and out of sight.  A 5- or a 10-pound catfish would grab the bait and take the jug down quickly.  However, the jug would return to the surface within 5 to 10 seconds. But when a big catfish hit, it would pull the jug down slowly and keep it beneath the water for 3 or 4 minutes, before the jug reappeared on top of the water." The first time the jug came back up on this day when Morris was fishing, only about 1 inch of the bleach bottle showed-above the surface of the water.  Morris knew from experience a big catfish wouldn't move more than 30- or 40-yards once it took the bait.  So, unlike many less-experienced anglers, when the bottle returned to the surface, Morris didn’t try to land the catfish.  Instead, he sat in his boat and let the big catfish swim in an underwater circle until the jug once again broke the surface of the water and laid flat. "I’ve learned when a big catfish tires after its first run, you hardly ever can land the fish," Morris comments.” I tapped the side of my boat with a boat paddle.  That sound spooked the big catfish, causing the fish to take the jug back down for about another minute. Then the second time the jug appeared; I used my trolling motor to move toward the fish.  Once the fish heard the trolling motor, the cat dove again for the bottom.  After three or four attempts to catch the bottle, I finally lead the bottle up to the boat with the 50-pound test line.  I slipped the net over the catfish's head and struggled to get it in my boat.  Click for Larger ViewWhen I weighed that fish later, the catfish tipped the scales at 88 pounds.  After taking some photos, I released the catfish to fight again another day."

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: More Expert Tips on 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 4