by Tim Huffman
The funnoodles used by youngsters in swimming pools can be used as a critical link in a catfishing system called ‘jug fishing’. This is an easy, economical and family-friendly way to fish.
The tactic is to place a large number of noodles, or jugs, into the water and watch them from your boat. When one goes under, bobs upright or takes off across the water you go after the fish. The following is an outline for juggin’.
The first step is to make the noodle rigs. Richard Bowling, a guide on Missouri’s Truman Lake, believes in keeping everything as basic as possible. There are many types of plastic and foam jugs with wires, swivels and other accessories but Bowling keeps it simple. He cuts the long noodles into 12-inch sections and ties the line directly to the noodle near one end. He makes a tight wrap, ties a knot and cuts the line leaving 12 or 15 feet which is the deepest he jug fishes. He writes the line length on the noodle.
The line is trotline braid. It’s needed to help pull the big cats into the boat. He adds a hook, about a 4/0, to the end of the line. A crimped sinker twelve inches above the hook finishes the rig. He says a lighter half-ounce sinker will drift faster than a heavier one so choose your weight based upon what you prefer and the water you’ll be fishing.
My wife and I got a first-hand look at his system on an August trip to Truman. The heat index was in the triple digits by mid-morning so we fished early and only for a few hours. Bowling had caught shad so we motored directly to our spot. It was a big flat about 11 feet deep. We baited the hooks and then threw out 40 jugs. The jug depth was 8 to 9 feet being set by wrapping line around the noodle and using a half-hitch when the right amount of line was left dangling.
Your baits can vary with shad, shrimp, nighcrawlers and even hotdogs doing the job depending upon your water and the species of cat you’re chasing. “I prefer fresh shad when chasing blues,” says Bowling. “The fresher the better. You need the bait cut or chunked where some of the guts will be exposed. This will release the strong shad smell into the water. You want it to be strong.”
It didn’t take long. Within ten minutes we had a noodle bouncing and moving across the water. When we caught up to the noodle Bowling grabbed it with the gaff and lifted it high enough for my wife to grab the line. She braced herself and pulled the fish to the top of the water. We had trouble getting the fish into the net so Bowling used the gaff to hook the catfish and help hoist it into the boat. There were high fives and some yelling going on. It was a 20 pounder. We continued to catch fish with most cats weighing two to five pounds. It was fun watching for the bites and chasing the fish. When you get close with the trolling motor or outboard they try to get away so the chase is on.
“This is a great way for a father and son, father and daughter or a couple of buddies to come out and enjoy a day of fishing,” says Bowling. “You don’t have to worry about being quiet and it gives everyone in the boat a chance to watch for bites and pull in fish. And, you can catch these catfish all year long.”
You can do noodle jug fishing on your own. It’s not too difficult. If you prefer to learn from a pro or just enjoy a day of fun fishing on Truman Lake, call Richard Bowling at Bucksaw Resort and Marina, 660-477-3900.
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