By David Cox

“That’s another hundred head,” Richard exclaimed! He was speaking about Blue Cats, not cattle. “I can count the times on one hand that we have taken less than a hundred head per trip in the past few months,” Richard continued. Richard Luce and Kenneth Owens are commercial fishermen, fishing a minimum of four to five days per week. I recently had the opportunity to spend a morning fishing with them and they have been kind enough to share their techniques and experience with our readers.

These guys are good!!! I mean really good at catching Blue Cats. On this particular morning they put out 125 floating jug lines. I observed as Richard and Kenneth tag teamed the chores with the precision of a choreographed dance group. Each man new his job and like a well tuned machine they went about their daily routine of putting another “hundred head” in the boat.

First, Richard and I met Kenneth at the boat launch about an hour before day light. Upon our arrival Kenneth was waiting, already dressed with rubber boots and a rubber apron for protection from water, fins and fish slime. Kenneth quickly got busy by helping launch the boat and stowing gear. We headed out as Richard drove the boat using a Q beam for light and Kenneth manned a 7’ cast net. Richard kept the boat over a creek channel and provided light with the Q beam as Kenneth filled the bait bucket with fresh shad.

Second, we dumped the jugs out of their holding sacks and began baiting hooks. Still in the predawn hour we drove to the spot Richard had selected. “Bait the hook and hook it back to the rubber band on the bottom of the jug,” Kenneth explained to me. “This will keep the jugs from getting tangled up. When we get to the spot we will already have most of the jugs baited,” he continued. “Run the hook through the eye of the shad and back through the body, a two inch shad is the best.” Richard added.

Next, Richard made a pass through the selected area and turned the boat in to wind. “We want to drop our jugs so the wind will blow them through these stumps, that’s were you will catch most of your fish.” Richard said. Now, with the first hint of sunlight cracking in the east we began dropping jugs as Richard eased the boat along. With the last jug dropped, we spun around to see jugs standing on end. That didn’t take long. I thought to my self. If a jug is straight up and down there is a fish on someone said. Richard controlled the 40hp tiller with one hand and scooped up jugs in a net with the other hand never turning the motor off and only kicking it into neutral briefly while he netted a fish. He would then flip the fish to Kenneth who would quickly take the fish off drop it in the aerated live well, re-bait and pitch the jug back out. Every time a fish went into the aerated live well Richard clicked his counter.

As we continued to chase bobbing jugs we talked more about jug lining. You have got to have wind I was told. The fish just do not bite good on slick water. Look for windy spots, although too much wind can make it rough and dangerous. Also, I was told never fish the same spot two days in a row. The best time to go jug fishing, especially in the warmer months is early in the morning. “I’ve seen guys using all kinds of different jugs,” I spoke. “ Tell me about yours,” I asked? First I was told, in Texas you must have your name and address on each jug. You do not need to put the date on it as long as you do not leave it out. Also, commercial fishermen must have their jugs painted fluorescent orange and sport fishermen must have their jugs painted white I was told. Richard went on to say. “ A small plastic soda bottle is all you need. Through trial and error I have found a 30 inch leader to be the best. It is a deep enough drop and still short enough to be handled easily. I start with about 10 inches of nylon trot line cord tied around the neck of the bottle. The nylon wraps up better than the mono. Attach a barrel swivel to the nylon then add 20 inches of 50lb. Mono. Attach a ¼ oz. in-line weight about 4-5” above a 8 0 mustad circle hook,” Richard said. Also, “we put the rubber band at the bottom of the jug to hold the hook in place when not in use to prevent all the lines from tangling together and causing a big mess,” Richard added. “Another thing,” Kenneth spoke, “when you spray paint your bottles paint the inside as well as the outside.”

“Eighty three,” Richard said as he punched the counter again. “Lets start picking up jugs, we should get our hundred head by the time we get all of the jugs picked up,” he said.

“That’s it! Another hundred head,” Richard exclaimed breaking a smile as he scooped the last fish of the day into the boat.

Back at Best Catch Fish & Seafood Market in Huntsville, Tx. by 11:00am. I thanked Richard and Kenneth for taking me along and sharing their knowledge with us. I learned a lot and was impressed with their equipment, attention to detail, technique and team work. These guys are real good at catching Blue Cats. If you ever get a chance, spend a morning with a commercial cat fishermen and you will learn a lot.

David Cox
Owner / Palmetto Guide Service
E- mail Palmettogs@yahoo.com
Phone 936-291-9602

Thanks to Richard Luce and Kenneth Owens
Best Catch Fish & Seafood Mkt.
Huntsville, TX.
Phone 936-291-2511


Dave Cox of Palmetto Guide Service is a regular contributor to the Lake Livingston edition of the Texas Sportsguide.  This article has previously appeared in that publication.

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