Trotline fishing is one of the most successful methods for catching catfish, bass, crappie, and bluegill in freshwater lakes and rivers; however, the method can be somewhat challenging to learn if you’re new to it.
The following tips will help you master trotline fishing so that you can spend more time on the water catching fish and less time untangling lines.
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What is a Trot Line?
A trotline is a long fishing line (typically a cord or nylon) with many baited hooks attached. The hooks are spaced along the line at different distances, and as a fish takes bait, it also pulls in other lines of hooks.
Because of that, more fish can be caught with one trotline than with many separate poles and lures. Trotlines have been used by fishermen for years because they’re an effective way to catch larger amounts of fish in less time than conventional pole fishing methods.
In fact, while you might catch three or four fish on one cast with a standard pole setup, you can easily bring in 20 or 30 fish when using trotlines; if you know how to use them correctly!
The Art of Knot-Tying
Before you set out on your fishing trip, you’ll need a few supplies that are different from those you would use for other types of fishing.
First, a trotline will be longer than most fishing lines – usually 100 feet or more. This means that your reel needs to be large enough for such a long line and will probably be designed more like a winch.
For bait, hooks, and weights that are placed along your line as it drops into water, any items will work; however, if you’re trying to catch something live (like fish) then consider using lures or bait in mesh bags so they don’t fall off before reaching their destination.
Choosing a Good Spot
One of, if not THE most important decision you’ll make when it comes to trot lining is choosing where your lines will be set. Your location depends largely on what kind of fish you are targeting.
If you’re aiming for a certain type of fish or body of water, consider paying someone in that area to give you advice about where they like to fish. For instance, trotlines for catfish should ideally be cast in water bodies rich in catfish.
Other things to think about are your local conditions and what species you would like as catch. Once you know all that, draw out a map or simply choose a route by flipping through Google Earth until you find a place that seems attractive.
Laying Out Your Line
As a general rule, you’ll want your line to be at least 300 feet long. This gives you a lot of wiggle room for catching different types of fish.
However, if you don’t have a 300-foot piece of line, it’s no problem! As long as your pieces are straight (which they should be), all that matters is how much line you can get in total.
For example, three 100-foot lines will give you more leeway than two 200-foot lines when it comes to hooking larger fish! The only thing is—you might lose some flexibility with shorter lines, especially when making catfish trotline…so keep that in mind.
Where to Set the Hooks
If you’re trot lining in rivers or shallow lakes, you can set your hooks anywhere along a vertical path. If you’re fishing in deep ocean waters, however, it’s important to set your hooks only near vertical structures, such as columns and towers.
These landmarks will help your lines float at relatively stable levels. When setting hooks in deep water, be sure that each line is attached to a lead ball (which will also keep it from sinking) and that there is a heavy weight on the bottom of each line (to keep it from rising).
As you approach deeper waters, try different weight and sinker combinations until you find what works best for where you are fishing.
What’s the Best Bait?
As you plan your next trot lining trip, consider what type of bait you’re going to use. In order for bait to be effective for trotline fishing, it needs:
- To have a long shelf life
- To survive and stay fresh in water
- To get picked up quickly by fish
- To not slow down or stop moving when hooked
- Not cost an arm and a leg
- Not rot or stink.
For most people, that means using live minnows – we recommend stocking up on nightcrawlers!
Handling Your Catch Safely
One of the best ways to keep your catch fresh is by handling it as little as possible. This is a common-sense approach for anyone who wants to bring home more fish (or anything else) in top shape.
If you’re using treble hooks, don’t grab hold of them with your bare hands; make sure you have sturdy leather gloves on or a hook removal tool. As an extra precaution, if you’re planning on cooking and eating any fish that could be potentially dangerous, such as shark or walleye, cut out its gall bladder first.
It contains an enzyme that can cause mild symptoms when consumed in large quantities. The combination of gloves and cutting out your catch’s gall bladder will help prevent accidental ingestion.
Trot Line Set Up: How to Tie Off the End of the Line
It is critically important to know how to make a trotline the right way. Trotlining requires a lot of line, so keeping it from unraveling is important. Simply put a stick or a plastic bottle at each end of your trotline and tie off both sides.
The wind won’t be able to catch either side and cause your line to become undone. Keep an eye on how far out your sticks are, though: if they get too close to shore, you’ll risk losing part of your line when someone trips over it.
Keeping them further out will reduce that risk but also make it harder for people who haven’t been fishing before to keep their lines up properly.
If you’re looking for great tips on trotline fishing, these are some of the most effective and well-known methods used by experienced anglers. Be sure to apply these tactics next time you set out on a fishing trip with your own line.
Using just one or two of these ideas could have an impact on your fishing experience, so if you use them all together, your results will surely be unbeatable!