Fishin’ with Capt. Gus

Capt. Gus Gustafson is an outdoor columnist and a full-time professional fishing guide.


Visit or call 704-617-6812 for more information or to book a trip.



Jug Fishing

Tired of fishing the same old way? If so, it’s time to give “Jug-Hook Fishing” a try.

Jugging, as it’s called, is a fun and easy way for the entire family to enjoy catching catfish and other species that will hit still baits. All that’s needed is a few empty plastic drink bottles (two liter), or better yet, empty bleach bottles, a length of line, a weight, hook and bait.


Jugging is as simple as 1-2-3:


* Write the users name and address or NCWRC customer number on each jug with a waterproof marker.


* Attach a length of fishing line (four to twelve feet) to each jug or bottle.


* Tie a weight (1/2 to 1 ounce) and hook (1/0 or larger) to the terminal end of the line.


* Place a piece of cut bait on each hook (using live bait is illegal in North Carolina).


* Throw jugs in the water and watch as they drift with the wind or current (maximum of seventy jugs per boat allowed.)


* When a jug bounces or goes under, a fish has taken the bait.


* Retrieve the jug and pull the fish in. Since most will be of good size, a landing net is suggested.


Best baits are fresh cut bream and perch, a variety of store bought stink-baits, table scraps, cheese, shrimp, worms, chicken livers and anything with a pungent smell. Some of the best results are achieved by anglers using small pieces of chicken breasts sprinkled with garlic powder.

Good places to fish are in back coves and shallow bays away from boat traffic. While some fishermen set their jugs and leave them unattended overnight, it is more fun to stay with them and land the catfish as they bite.


According to NCWRC regulations, jugs must be fished daily and all fish removed daily. Unattended jugs, as evidenced by the absence of bait, may be removed from the water by wildlife enforcement officers.


A license that authorizes basic fishing privileges is required by those using jug-hooks. For a complete set of trotline, set-hook, and jug-hook regulations, visit


In Lake Norman and Badin Lake, the daily creel for blue catfish greater than 32 inches in length is one.

Tip from Capt. Gus

Noodles, the colorful foam plastic ones used for swimming, are an excellent alternative to the plastic bottles used for jug fishing. Not only are they inexpensive, but they take less space in the boat when cut into nine to twelve inch sections. A piece of PVC pipe inserted through the noodle and capped on either end adds rigidity.



Pilot Media publishes boating guides providing comprehensive information on boating and waterfront living. Each edition includes an index of boat related businesses, reference maps, marina & boatyard guides, a directory of waterfront & water-access restaurants - The Pilot's Galley - and a Fishing Guide that includes a directory to area fishing service providers.  Read more >

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