What Is Jug Fishing?


There are a lot of different types of fishing all over the world, but one that has gained a lot of momentum in the Southern states is Jug fishing. While you might have not heard of it before, it is really popular, and a lot of people are doing it. We wanted to take a minute to introduce you into this style of fishing, and also give you more information on if it’s safe, and when you might want to do it, or when you might want to get out your normal rod and reel.

What is jug fishing? Jug fishing is when you take an empty bottle, tie fishing line and one or two hooks to it, add some bait, and throw it out into a body of water. A fish will come along and take the bait, and after a few hours or more, you go check each bottle you threw out. This type of fishing is mostly used for catfish but does work on other types of fish too. You can tie your bottle off onto tree stumps and other things sticking out to the water so that the fish does not getaway. The jug has to be big enough to not sink when the fish pulls on it. If you choose a bait that floats, or you are using multiple hooks, you can also attach a very heavyweight to your line so that the line goes straight down, and your jug stays near the same spot you deployed it.

Is It Legal?

Jug fishing is legal in most states, but it is always a good idea to check your state fish and game website to make sure that you can do it. Here are the states it is most popular:

  • Georgia
  • Tennessee
  • Illinois
  • Alabama
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Florida

As you can see, this is most popular in the Southern states because there is a lot of swampland and bodies of water where you can find extremely big catfish. There is also a lot of trees that have fallen into the water and is a great place to tie off your jug so that it does not float away.

What Does Jug Fishing Look Like?

I found this great video that shows you what it looks like to fish with a jug line. Take a look and see if its right for you.

What Kind Of Fish Can You Catch?

Typically, the fish you are going to catch with this setup is bigger catfish. This is because they are bottom feeders and just cruise around looking for something to eat. Once they take your bait, they are also less likely to shake and spit the hook and are not going to be as volatile as most fish when they get caught. You can use jug fishing for any kind of fish including bass, trout, and others, but you will have to keep a closer eye on it. You can think of jug fishing as being a big bobber system without an actual rod. You toss your bait out attached to the jug and then leave. When you come back you look to see if your jug is moved and check the line.

What Type Of Line Do You Use?

You can use any line you want, but if you are fishing for bigger catfish, you might want to use a very heavy line with a 30-pound weight, or if you really do not want to snap your line, you can use braided line instead. The one thing you want to understand and pay attention to is that there is no play in the line or drag. Once the fish takes your bait, it is hooked and if it moves it could take your jug to a rock or branch and could break your line off underwater. A good strong heavy line is going to be your best bet when setting up your rig.

Free-Floating vs Anchored

There are two types of Jug fishing that are used, one is free-floating and the other is anchored jug fishing. Free-floating just means that you toss your jug out and it floats around the area freely. Free-floating is the most common type of jug fishing in the South where there is a lot of standing swamp water where fishing for catfish is best. Anchored jug fishing is when you might have a slight current and you do not want your jug floating away, so you tie it to a branch or log sticking out of the water. This way, it can still float, but if a fish takes the bait, you do not find your jug a mile away or even further.

What Type Of Bait Should You Use?

When fishing for catfish, especially jug fishing, the stinkier the bait is the best. You can use chicken livers, pieces of other fish, hot dogs and even nightcrawlers. You can use man-made baits, but they are not as good for catfish. Even cat food has been used to catch catfish, but you need something that is going to be able to stay on the hook for as long as possible and even have other smaller fish taking bites off of it. I have heard that chicken liver that has been out in the sun work very well, and I have personally used hot dogs with much success. There is no secret bait for jug fishing, only whatever you would normally use for catfish.

Is Jug Fishing Fair?

Some people say that jug fishing is not fair, because jug fishers will normally toss out a ton of jugs right at dusk or during the night and check them in the morning. This has had a huge impact on the catfish population and has caused some states to make it illegal. Since normal anglers only use one or two rods, they have deemed it unfair to jug fish. Some states have even put a cap on how many jugs you can throw out at one time, so if you do want to jug fish, check fish and game. While we do not have a side of whether it is fair or unfair, having lots of lines out is like catching fish in a barrel, and does not really make it fair fishing, but if you are only throwing out a few jugs at a time, we don’t see a problem with it.

Do You Have To Use A Jug?

While it is called jug fishing, there have been many people that have used technology to make different types of homemade jugs. The most popular rig now is a PVC pipe with a cap on both ends with a pool noodle wrapped around it. This makes the PVC pipe stick straight up and down, and they are easier to spot with the vibrant colors of the pool noodle. You can use anything that you would like to make the jug, as long as it is airtight, and does not get pulled underwater extremely easy so you can find it again.

Is Jug Fishing Good For The Environment?

Since you are using plastic jugs, PVC pipe, pool noodles and other items for jug fishing, it can hurt the environment if you get a hole in your jug, or it gets pulled by a fish so far that you cannot find it. Plastic is not biodegradable, so it can be harmful to the environment if not picked up. It is always the responsibility of the angler to pick up their unused jugs, fishing line, and bait containers when they are done fishing so that we protect the environment of others and our future generations. As long as you pick up everything you took, and throw away old nonusable jugs when you are done, jug fishing can be very safe for fish, the water, and the environment.

Final Thoughts

Jug fishing is a great way to catch catfish, especially if you are fishing at night when they feed. While it is illegal in some states, many of the Southern states are still allowing it, and is very popular. I highly suggest you give it a try out at a smaller body of water like a pond or swamp and do not use this type of fishing big lakes. And as always, pick up your trash and unused fishing line when you are done, so we all have a place to fish.

Terry Minton

I am the owner of Fast Cast Rods. I live in the mountains of Northern California where I love to be outdoors hunting, fishing, camping and hiking with my wife and three awesome kids.

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