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Tackle-Free Fishing

No rod and reel? Give these alternative methods a try.
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The hands-down majority of fish caught in North America are taken on some combination of rods and reels, but anglers also have the option of fishing with a number of "no-tackle" methods that can be as productive as casting or trolling.



Such tackle-free fishing utilizes limbs, jugs, cans, nylon line, stout hooks and other simple components. Techniques for using them are inexpensive and highly efficient at catching catfish and other popular species. A spool of staging line or monofilament, and some sinkers and hooks, don't take up much space in your camping gear when you go on a weekend camping trip or squirrel-hunting foray. Thus prepared, and provided there's fishing water nearby, you might be able to
enjoy fresh fish for supper.



Following are descriptions of six
alternative fishing methods that anglers might try when rods and reels are nowhere to be found. Fishermen should review local regulations to make sure a particular method is
legal, as fishing laws vary widely from state to state.



Limblining

Limblining is the simplest of all alternative fishing methods. Tie a length of strong staging line to a limb hanging over water that's got some depth to it; say, at least five or six feet deep. Adjust the line's length to extend two to three feet into the water. Tie a strong hook (1/0 to 3/0) on the opposite end of the line, and add enough weight six or eight inches above the hook so the line will hang vertically beneath the limb. Bait the hooks in late afternoon with night crawlers, live minnows, fish chunks or some other choice catfish morsel, then check the line the next morning. Chances are you'll find a feisty channel or blue cat struggling to get away.



Limblining is a numbers game. Most limbliners set at least two dozen lines at a time, spreading them along a riverbank or lakeshore. Rig lines in different areas: adjacent to deep pools,
below riffles, along rocky banks or near logjams. Once you learn where the fish are feeding best you can concentrate your lines there the next night.



Tie lines to limbs that are alive and springy. That way, when a big catfish takes the bait, the limb will bend but probably not break when the fish tries to make a run for it.



One other note: be sure to remove your limblines when you're through fishing. The law requires it.



Yo-Yo Fishing

"Yo-yoing" is a high-tech method of limblining. A yo-yo is an automatic reel consisting of a stainless-steel spring
encased in a sheet-metal disk (about the diameter of a doughnut). This device has a line attached to its topside for tying to a springy green limb, which suspends the yo-yo reel above the water's surface.



Inside the yo-yo mechanism are several feet of strong nylon line wrapped around the spring. The end of this line dangles from the bottom of the yo-yo. A snap swivel is tied to the end. A 1/0 to 3/0 hook (attached to the line via the snap swivel) and one or two split-shot weights complete the rig.



After the yo-yo is tied to a limb, the hook is baited and enough line is pulled off the reel to lower the bait two or three feet beneath the surface. As the line is pulled off the reel, the spring coils tighter. Once the desired length is extended, a small wire trigger on the side of the reel is set to keep the line in place. When a fish takes the bait it trips the trigger and the reel uncoils quickly to set the hook.



The best strategy for yo-yos is to scatter two dozen or more along a tree- or brush-lined river or lakeshore. Set the devices at dusk, then run them periodically through the night or at first light in the morning.



As is the case with limblines, yo-yos can be rigged with monofilament leaders and smaller hooks to catch bluegills and crappies-but be sure that it is a legal fishing method for those species in the state in which you fish. Bait with wigglers, catalpa worms or crickets fobluegills, and small live minnows for crappies.
Contact: Mechanical Fisher Yo-Yo Company (870-422-7715; www. rocking.altd.com/mfish.html).



Throw Lines

Don't have funds for a new fishing reel? No worry. Try casting with an aluminum soda can or plastic bleach bottle. Using containers of some sort to cast lines has a long history in Asia and Latin America. This fishing method, which is sort of a landlocked trotline, works amazingly well with a little practice.



The container serves the same function as a spinning reel spool. Tie stout monofilament or braided line around the container and cinch it up, then wrap several feet-enough to make a long cast-around the can or bottle
toward one end. Add hook, sinker and bait on the other end.



To cast, hold the container at one end so the opposite end is unencumbered. Catch the dangling end of the line in your free hand and sling the line as you extend the container out toward the water. Done properly, the line will coil off freely to gain distance.



This is not a method for continuous casting and retrieving. If you don't want to hold the line while waiting for a bite, cut a willow branch or small sapling, poke it into the bank and take a few turns around the top end with the fishing line. The bobbing tip will tell you when you're getting a bite.



When a fish takes the bait or you want to make another cast, pull the line by hand, wrapping it back onto the can as it comes in.



Trotlining

Trotlining is an extremely efficient means of "alternative fishing" that is a favorite of commercial fishermen.



Trotlines are long lengths of strong nylon staging line with "droppers" and hooks spaced evenly along a "mother line." The line is secured on one end by tying or weighting. The hooks are baited, and the line is stretched taut and secured on the other end. Jug buoys might be used to mark both ends of offshore trotlines. The typical sport-fishing trotline has 25 hooks. Lines are usually set in the afternoon and run the next morning.



Trotline kits are sold in tackle stores and by mail-order houses. Instructions in the kits show how to rig and deploy the lines. One common method is to tie one end of the line to a stationary object on the shoreline (a tree or rock, for example), stretch the line into the river or lake, then anchor the other end with a heavy weight. Also, small "dropper weights" should be added every five or six hooks to hold the baits on or close to bottom. These weights (around a pound each) should be
attached to the mother line with dropper lines about a foot long.



Typical trotline baits are whole baitfish such as shad, cut fish parts, chicken guts, catalpa worms and commercially prepared baits.



Set Poles

This is a specialty rig for catching big flathead catfish from smaller rivers.



Use a hatchet to chop out sturdy hardwood saplings 7 to 10 feet long. Each pole should have a fork on the fishing end. Use the hammer side of the hatchet to drive the poles into the bank of the river at the heads of deep pools, preferably where the bottom is sloping from shallow to deep. When set properly, the forked end of the pole will
angle out over the water three to five feet, and the butt will be lodged
securely in the muddy bank.



Next, tie a long length of heavily tarred nylon line to the closest limb or tree behind the pole. Unroll the line to the end of the pole, and wrap it several times just below the fork. Then run enough line out so a hook and bait will hang within a foot of the river bottom. Add a 4/0 to 6/0 hook, and loop a bell sinker onto the line a foot above the hook. Use enough weight to hold the line vertically in the current.



Bait the hook with a big goldfish or small bluegill (where legal). Hook the bait through the back just behind the dorsal fin so it can swim naturally. Rig several set poles in this manner during the day, then bait and run them at night. This fishing method will take the biggest flathead cats in the river.



Jug-Fishing

Plastic two-liter soft-drink bottles (with caps on, of course), staging, hooks, sinkers and bait are the ingredients necessary for jug-fishing. Lines are cut to lengths of 4 to 10 feet, depending on water depth. (Six-foot lengths are a good average.) Each piece of line is tied snugly around a bottle's neck. A 2/0 bait-keeper hook is tied to the opposite end of the line, and enough split shot is added a few inches above the hook so the line hangs vertically beneath the jug. Then the line is wrapped around the jug and held snugly with a wide rubber band for storage purposes.



Jug-fishermen use a boat and motor to set out 20 or more jugs at a time. Jugs are unwrapped, baited and dropped in the water on the upwind or up-current side of a flat, channel or pool. The wind or current drifts the jugs through fish feeding areas. The angler floats alongside the jugs, watching for one to tip up and move off as a hooked catfish tries to escape.



The best results usually occur during low-light periods near dawn and dusk. Jugs can be run at night and it's helpful to paint each with orange or phosphorescent paint so they can be spotted easily with a flashlight.
poles in this manner during the day, then bait and run them at night. This fishing method will take the biggest flathead cats in the river.



Jug-Fishing

Plastic two-liter soft-drink bottles (with caps on, of course), staging, hooks, sinkers and bait are the ingredients necessary for jug-fishing. Lines are cut to lengths of 4 to 10 feet, depending on water depth. (Six-foot lengths are a good average.) Each piece of line is tied snugly around a bottle's neck. A 2/0 bait-keeper hook is tied to the opposite end of the line, and enough split shot is added a few inches above the hook so the line hangs vertically beneath the jug. Then the line is wrapped around the jug and held snugly with a wide rubber band for storage purposes.



Jug-fishermen use a boat and motor to set out 20 or more jugs at a time. Jugs are unwrapped, baited and dropped in the water on the upwind or up-current side of a flat, channel or pool. The wind or current drifts the jugs through fish feeding areas. The angler floats alongside the jugs, watching for one to tip up and move off as a hooked catfish tries to escape.



The best results usually occur during low-light periods near dawn and dusk. Jugs can be run at night and it's helpful to paint each with orange or phosphorescent paint so they can be spotted easily with a flashlight.

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from cdferguson wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

These are some great tips and tricks you have published for setline fishing. Thanks for the info.

I have written a book about jug fishing, check it out if you get time.

http://www.jugfishing.net/catfish_jugs/

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from cdferguson wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

These are some great tips and tricks you have published for setline fishing. Thanks for the info.

I have written a book about jug fishing, check it out if you get time.

http://www.jugfishing.net/catfish_jugs/

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