Setting trotlines can be one of the most rewarding ways to catch catfish. Most states allow each fisherman to use 25 hooks, so as you can imagine, your odds are greatly increased to catch a lot of catfish. Setting trotlines looks like a simple hobby, but trust me, there is a lot more to it than meets the eye!
I have been setting trotlines for the fairest share of my life. We have had great catches and also nights where we just came out with a lesson learned. Fortunately for you, the lessons can be learned by just reading this article instead of wasting a lot of time. In this article, you will learn about the best way to make a trotline, the best methods placing a trotline, which bait to use on a trotline, and the best places to place a trotline.
The first thing you want to do is make a trotline. If you already know where you are setting the trotline, you can make it the proper length. If you don’t know where though, I would just make a 25 hook line. If the hole is too small, you don’t have to set all of the hooks. Be sure that you use braided line for the entire trotline. The braided line cost’s a little more, but it is well worth it as the trotline ages. Also, be sure you get large stainless steel hooks. Be sure to get a proper size hook, depending on what size of fish are in the water. Without diagrams, it will be difficult to show you exactly how to make the line, but I suggest you do a Google search to see diagrams.
Next, you want to decide on what type of catfish you are wanting to catch. When I set trotlines, I am usually targeting flathead catfish and blue catfish. This doesn’t mean you won’t have the chance of catching a channel catfish, but the bait does increase your odds for flatheads and blues. I usually use small perch or goldfish. (Depending on how much time I have to get bait) Perch are obviously a lot cheaper, since you can usually catch a lot of them for free. Goldfish do cost some money, but they will save you at least a couple hours of time. Honestly, another good thing about perch is how durable they are. They can be hit a few times before they die, so that also really increases your odds of a catch.
When you are ready to set the trotline, there are some things you want to think about. Are you wanting to set your line across the top of the water or at the bottom? When going for catfish, I usually set my trotlines at the bottom. Catfish usually sit at the bottom, come up for food, and then go back down. If you set your lines on top, the fish will generally fight the whole they are hooked and will either get away or damage your trotline. If you hook them on the bottom, I’ve noticed they will just sit there more calmly. Also, we usually hammer broom sticks into the river bottom to hold the lines. By doing this, you can assure the lines are near the bottom also. Be very sure you get the lines hammered into the ground far enough. You don’t want to lose your trotline!
Lastly, you need to know the best places in the water to set the trotlines. I usually like to set my lines when the river is very low because all of the fish will be congested in a few holes. I like to find the holes, and set the lines just on the upslope of the hole. Sometimes it is tough to get the broomsticks in due to sand, but at the bottom, there is a clay bottom most of the time, so you can pound the broom stick into the clay.
If you follow these instructions, I think you will have great success when setting trotlines. Keep in mind, luck also has a little bit to do with it though! If you pick the right night, you can catch a whole stringer full of fish! Good luck in your fishing adventures!