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The Best Way to Catch Summer Catfish for a Fish Fry

Most anglers for catfish know that generally the most productive places to catch catfish in the hot weather are in the tailraces of dams. However, Tony Adams, a member of Mossy Oak’s Fishing ProStaff and a guide on Alabama’s Lake Eufaula, doesn’t adhere to that philosophy. Try his tactics on your lake to catch more catfish this summer.


I find the most and the biggest catfish in 18 to 65 feet deep water all summer and fall at Lake Eufaula. I like to jug fish for catfish often at the same time I'm crappie fishing. I've learned that if you concentrate your fishing just on your jugs for about 4 hours in the morning, you usually can catch from about 100-400 pounds of cats, with the average morning catch being about 200-300 pounds. I've caught catfish weighing from 20-60 pounds each on 60-foot deep lines during hot weather.

I bait my hooks with cut skipjack (a hickory shad) and with cut mullet (a saltwater fish that has a lot of oil in it and puts off a strong smell). Generally when I’m jugging for cats, I’ll put out about 72, 20-ounce plastic Gatorade jugs. To put out the jugs, I keep my big engine running. As I bait my hooks, I throw the baits out into the water. When the boat moves forward, it pulls all the line off the jug. Once I release the first jug, I’ll bait a second jug and use the same process. With this technique, I can put out 72 jugs in about 45 minutes and cover about 3/4-miles of underwater river ledges.

I’ll use an egg sinker above a swivel with about 18 inches of leader line below the swivel going to the hook on my jugs. The weight helps the bait reach the bottom faster, and the swivel prevents the cat from rolling up in the line. I won’t use any lead on other jugs, and I’ll only have a swivel to keep the cat from twisting the line. So, when the catfish picks up my bait, the fish won’t feel any resistance on the line until it gets the bait well into its mouth. I like to use No. 5/0 or No. 6/0 stainless-steel hooks when I'm trying to catch big cats. When I want to catch eating-size cats, I use a No. 7/0 or a No. 8/0 hook. I also put about three turns of electrical tape around my jugs to have a place to put the points of my hooks when I take in my lines and keep the line from unrolling. I’ll have reflective tape on some of the jugs too for nighttime fishing. 

Most of the time I put my jugs out in a straight line. Then when I start running my jugs, if a jug’s off to the left or to the right of that line, I know I’ve either caught a cat, or a cat has taken my bait.

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