PASS THE JUG   Leave a comment

Jug fishing is a staple of southern angling.  It is an opportunity for family and friends to enjoy a relaxing time of the water and still experience the excitement of fishing.  Jug fishing is a hoot! 

Jugging requires reading the structure and forage conditions on a body of water as well as current conditions.  It is often done by parties of several anglers floating on pontoon boats.  It is a great way to view a sunset and enjoy a picnic dinner on the water. 

One sits back relaxing until the action begins.  Then it is a mad scramble to retrieve the jugs and hand line the fish on to the deck.  The fish are usually rather complacent until they realize you are pulling them out of the water.  Jug fishing often yields larger fish.  For instance in large reservoirs the number of large flathead catfish taken by rod and reel is low.  The number taken jug fishing is much higher.

Large rivers and lakes are conducive to jug fishing. Southern Illinois has an abundance of such waters that provide anglers a relaxing way of fishing on hot summer evenings.  Jug fishermen are allowed up to 50 jugs.  They must be attended at all times.  They cannot be left overnight or for any extended period of time.  Your name, address and phone number must be displayed on the jugs. 

Jug fishing rigs consist of a milk, or other plastic jug, tethered with three to six feet of monofilament line, and a 5/0 hook or 3/0 treble hook.  Forty- or 50-pond mono or braided line works well.  Some prefer the two-liter soft drink bottles.  Regardless the jug must be sealed so that it does not take on water and sink. 

When storing or transporting the bottles the line can be wrapped around the neck of the bottle or stored inside. 

A good lake or river map comes in handy as one can see the contours of the bottom.  You should place jugs about 100-yards on the upwind side of a targeted structure and about 10-feet apart. 

On large rivers structure tends to be more obvious.  Sandbars, wing dams, bends, and drift piles of wood all produce fish.  The jugs are allowed to drift toward the structure with the fisherman drifting along behind. 

On a clear body of water night fishing is probably the most productive.  If fishing in daylight the hook should be suspended about two or three feet off the bottom.  At night the hook is suspended about two feet below the surface.  The shallow pattern can be used on shallow water with in a lake with a river channel winding through it. 

Jug fishing is most often done in the late afternoon into the evening. 

In deep water a jug can be rigged with braided nylon line that is either brown or green.  At the end of the line is attached a brass swivel.  Six feet of 50-pound monofilament line is attached to the other end of the swivel with a 2/0 hook and a 1/4-ounce bell sinker about a foot above the hook.  The swivel aids in keeping a twisting catfish from breaking off line.  The rig is adjusted to keep the bait a foot or so off the bottom. 

Bait for jug fishing is most often a nightcrawler threaded on a hook leaving the ends hanging free.  Pieces of several nightcrawlers can be strung on a hook so the juices act as an attractant. 

Once baited up and released the jugs have to be watched like an unruly flock of sheep.  In a current they tend to get lost behind wing dams and other structure.  Often one knows that a fish is on the hook when the jug takes a totally different tack from the other jugs. 

Some anglers paint the jugs bright colors for visibility.  It is fun to watch three or four jugs dancing at once with a fish on the hook of each.  A long sturdy pole with a strong hook on the end will aid in releasing an entangled jug or capture one rapidly trailing along behind a fish. 

Jug fishing is a calming way of catching a nice mess of fish for a late dinner.  One just sits back and enjoys a soft drink while keeping an eye on the jugs.  Once the action begins it becomes a matter of going all directions at once in trying to retrieve all the fish.


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