Whiskerfish on rod and reel are great fun, but if you don’t have the time to spend on the water, setlining or trotlining lets you stock up on fillets for winter or for a big family fish fry.
The materials you need are simple. Purchase regulation trotline cord or braided surveying line that tests at about 250 pounds. Manufactured trotlines are available, too. Use No. 1 or 1/0 stainless hooks and the largest swivels you can find to assure reliability.
Trotlines: Trotlines require getting in a boat and stretching lines along submerged river channels or across bays. Each line end is anchored heavily-cinder blocks do the trick. Barrel or three-way swivels secure hook droppers at 10- to 12-foot intervals. A milk jug secured to one anchor by stout rope will help you locate and retrieve your line. Check it every 24 hours. Consult local regulations for the maximum number of hooks allowed, line identification requirements and time allowed between line checks.
**Setlines: **Setlines are best on smaller waters with scattered pools, or when you’re on foot. Tie the line off to a stout branch overhanging a deep pool and tie a weight to the opposite end. Secure a swivel, dropper line and hook about 18 inches above the anchor. Dual hooks are viable. Bait up and heave the works into deep water. Set it at sundown, check it at midnight and return at dawn. Again, check your local regulations regarding the number of lines allowed.
Baiting Up: Cut bait (sunfish, shad or carp) is productive. Groundhog or rabbit meat and internal organs are deadly where available (and legal). For flatheads, try live sunfish, shad or baby carp.