The smallest member of the catfish family does come in jumbo sizes. Fill your summer nights with bragging-size bullheads.
1. Turn On the Night
Bullheads are round-the-clock feeders, but nighttime is the best time to catch them. On one lake I fish, you can practically set your watch by the bite. Once the sun sets, the hot panfish fishing stops and the bullheads show up. We catch increasingly bigger fish (up to 2 pounds) as the night progresses.
2. Upsize Your Offerings
Notorious nibblers, little cats are especially adept at cleaning hooks. On some nights, you’ll go through a dozen crawlers in a half hour. If your waters are packed with small bullheads, increase your hook and bait size. I prefer a 3/0 or 4/0 long-shank hook and big chunks of bait (e.g., hot dogs).
3. Go Deep**
I’ve found that the bigger bullheads roam waters that are a foot or two deeper than what the smaller fish prefer. Ideally, try to target the edges of deep-water weed beds–12 to 15 feet. Some anglers have considerable luck by chumming up the bite with cans of tuna packed in oil that are punctured with a nail.
4. Bust Out the Bobbers
Embrace your inner child and fish with a medium- to large-size bobber. Because bullheads are quick to tip you off to the bite, bobbers will help derail the light biters. Set your bait to fish right off the bottom. Big bullheads don’t tug–they’ll yank and sink a float quickly. Count to three and set the hook.
5. Watch the Spine Tinglers
Handle all bullheads with care. Sharp pectoral and dorsal fin spines can hurt as bad as a bee sting. It’s a good idea to use pliers or wear gloves when unhooking, cleaning, and skinning bullheads. If you do happen to get spiked, wash the area immediately with soap and water, and swab it with ammonia.