How to make catfish jugs

If you've ever seen rows of brightly colored bottles bobbing up and down on the lake, you've likely spotted an angler's catfish jugs.

This one is a home run for beginners because it starts as an arts and crafts project and ends with a fish in the boat — maybe even in the skillet.

Simply paint a recycled plastic bottle then fit it with braided fishing line, a split-shot and a hook. At that point, they’re ready to take the water where they’re baited with…hot dogs.

For added fun, you can soak the hot dogs in strawberry Kool-Aid overnight and maybe add a little garlic salt for smell.

If you’re taking multiple kids to the lake, tap into their competitive side by painting one child’s jugs green and the other child’s orange. Make a game out of who catches a fish first and who catches the most.

You can use the catfish you catch to teach the value of catch and release or introduce the children to the fun of taking fish home for the frying pan.

Make sure to check your state’s laws on using this technique for catching fish.

Paint the bottles

The first step is to paint recycled plastic bottles a fluorescent color (green, orange, pink, etc.). Some people use pieces of floating pool noodles as their jugs. But they don’t have to be painted — and where’s the fun in that?

Cut some line

Cut about an 8-foot section of braided fishing line and tie it to the bottle around the neck. Braid works well for jugs because when they’re being stored, it will be wrapped around the neck of the bottle. Lines with memory like monofilament will become stiff and kinked after weeks in storage. Braid will virtually last forever.

Add the hook

Tie on the hook to the other end of the line and add a split-shot. Place the split-shot 18 inches to 2 feet above the hook. It’s simply to keep the bait down at a desirable depth for catching catfish.

Add a strip of reflective tape so you can use the bottles at night. Catfish often feed more actively at night, and that makes jug fishing a productive tactic after the sun goes down. Remember bug spray and a spotlight. You’re gonna need both.

Store the hook

Add a rubberband around the bottle to store the hook when not in use. This is a simple step that will allow you to store the jugs without tangles. You don’t want 30 bottles with lines and hooks hanging free.

Go fish

Use hot dogs to bait the hooks. Throw the bottles out in an area where you can keep them contained or where you can chase them down in a powered boat. They’ll move quick! And remember, hot dogs are just one suggestion for bait. Other traditional catfish favorites like chicken livers and cut bait will often work just as well, but they’re a little messier in your boat.

Chase your catch

Chase the jug down and pull up your catch. If you put out a line of 25 jugs, look down the lake and see one that’s 100 yards out of line, there’s a reason for that — and it’s probably a fish. If you see one bouncing or zipping across the surface of the water, that’s a fish. If one sinks and stays gone for several seconds at a time, that’s either a bigger fish or a mean one.