This past weekend was one of those weekends that seems like a blur. I spent 3 days out on the Angelina River running trotlines, juglines and fishing.
Long story short – Friday afternoon, get the trotlines and juglines ready; Friday evening go put the juglines and trotlines out, check everything Saturday morning, go back Saturday evening, check and rebait the trotline, put the juglines out, Sunday go check everything again, pick the trotline up, pick up the juglines, go fishing, get home Sunday around noon.
Now for the rest of the story.
Over the past week I had been making up some trotlines in the backyard. The local china-mart sells spools of trotline string with a 330 pound tinsel strength, this is what makes up the main beam of the trotline.
So I started off by measuring out 2 double arm lengths of string, which equals out to about 8 feet, tie a loop knot about 3 – 4 inches long, measure off about 8 feet, tie another loop knot, measure off about another 8 feet, another loop knot,,, repeat until I had about 120 of line.
Lesson learned – Do not make your trotline to long, this will come into play later on.
I strung the main beam of the trotline out in the backyard, put the swivels on, put the droplines on the main beam, made up some weights, put some stainless steel snaps on the ends of the trotline, put a stainless steel snap on the weight,,,, just got things ready to go.
The weights for the trotlines are gears off of a 4-wheeler. I took a section of nylon rope, burned the ends (one end was burned so that it was closed, the other was burned so that the end was open). One end of the rope was inserted into the middle of the nylon rope, pushed inside of itself, then pulled tight.
When my wife got home after work, we hooked up the boat to my truck, loaded up the gear and headed to the Bevil Port boat launch.
We got the boat launched with no issues, then we headed south on the Angelina River. I already had certain corner of the Angelina River picked out for the trotline. We eased up to the bank, tied off the line, then backed away from the bank and dropped off the trotline. For bait we used some shrimp and chunks of chicken that had freezer burnt.
From where my wife and I put the trotline at, we headed north about a 1/4 mile to put out the juglines. As we headed into the slough, I killed the main motor (Evinrude 30 horse outboard), dropped the trolling motor, eased around the cypress trees and dropped off the juglines and noodles. In all, my wife and I dropped 4 juglines and 4 noodles.
Back the boat launch, put the boat back on the trailer, and we headed home.
Friday night I did not sleep very well. Thought about what was going to be on the hooks the next morning kept running through my head.
Started off early when the alarm clock went off around 5:30am. My wife dosed for a little bit, got up maybe a little after 6, got our shower, loaded the gear into the truck and boat, then headed to a local corner store for a bag of ice and some snacks.
Somewhere around 7am we launched the boat at Bevil port and headed south on the Angelina River.
The first place my wife and I went was to the trotline. We slowly approached the bank, I grabbed the line, and started pulling the trotline out of the water, working our way back towards the weight. Somewhere around the 3rd or 4th hook I pulled up a nice catfish, and looked like it was maybe 10 inches long. I took the catfish off the line and threw it back unharmed. Then the problem became evident, the trotline was hung up on something. and by hung up, I mean “really” hung up. The line would not budge at all. So I did what I had to do, and that was to cut the line. This is when I felt a little sad. There was probably 40 – 60 feet of line on the bottom of the Angelina River with hooks every 8 feet. Whatever was on those hooks was probably going to die. The thought of a catfish dying on a trotline at the bottom of the Angelina River made me a little sick at my stomach. The rest of the trotline was pulled up and put in a 5 gallon bucket.
Lesson Learned – Always have a sharp knife close at hand. If you get a hook in your hand, or lose your balance and fall overboard, you may need a way to cut yourself free for the trotline.
As my wife and I were getting ready to head up stream to the slough, I spotted a white jug maybe 75 yards downstream. From a distance the jug looked like one of mine, but what was it doing there? All of the jugline were dropped off in a slough about 1/4 up stream. Just to make sure the jugline was not mine, the main engine was fired up and my wife and I headed over to the jug. As we approached it was evident that something was on the line because the jug was moving around and being pulled underwater. I slowed down, killed the motor, reached over, grabbed the jug and pulled about a 16 inch catfish out of the water. This one was still on the small side, so it was taken off the hook and thrown back unharmed.
The main motor was fired up, and my wife and I headed up stream to the slough where the rest of the juglines were thrown out.
We eased into the slough, turned off the main motor and dropped the trolling motor. Some of the jugs were close to the bank and next to cypress trees. In places like that, slow and steady is the best way to go. You do not want to get into a hurry and run the boat up on a stump or run it into a cypress tree.
My wife and I eased through the brush next to the bank, around the cypress trees, and did not have a single fish on the other 7 juglines.
After pulling the rest of the juglines up, my wife and I headed home. On the way home my wife and I stopped at a primitive camping spot on the Angelina river to take a short break. My wife wanted to do some perch fishing, and I needed to leave a crap in the woods.
We were out of the water and back home by 9am.
After going to town to take care of business around town, and taking a nap, 2pm rolls around. My stepson is going to be heading out with me on the evening trip, so there are some things that I needed to take care of. First, I restrung a fishing pole with 12# line. Second, I fixed up my spare trotline.
4pm rolls around, which is when my stepson and I head back to the Bevil port boat launch. We get the boat launched, and we head south on the Angelina River once again.
The first place we go is back to the trotline place to put the new line out. But instead of putting the line at the exact same location, I move down stream maybe 100 feet. I did not want to put the trotline where the other got hung up, so lets move down a little bit to a new location.
I pulled the boat up to a vertical bank, tied the line off, used the trolling motor to head out towards the middle of the Angelina River, dropped off the 2 weights, then threw the white 1 gallon bleach jug (which was empty) overboard. With the trotline in place, my stepson and I headed south to a different slough then my wife and I went to. This other slough is a little smaller, and has a couple of cuts off of it. 4 small jugs and 4 noodle were thrown out with shrimp as bait. Since the fish did not go after the chicken, I did not mess with it saturday evening.
We made a loop around the edge of the slough, tossed 4 jugs out on one side of the slough and 4 noodles out on the other side of the slough.
After my stepson and I dropped the noodles off, we used the trolling motor to ease out to the main Angelina River channel, headed up stream, and started fishing for bass along the bank. When water is not being released from Lake Sam Rayburn, the Angelina River has very little current, so it was easy to go up stream with the trolling motor.
My stepson caught the only fish, which looked like a small mouthed bass.
As we were easing along the current started to pick up, which means water was being released from Sam Rayburn. The trolling motor could no longer keep up, so we fired up the Evinrude and went back to the boat launch.
Started off bright and early at 5:30am with the alarm going off. Stepson and a friend of his showed up around 6:15, we headed out around 6:35. The first stop was the corner store to get a couple of drinks and a bag of ice. With daytime temps getting close to 100 degrees, it helps to have a cold drink close at hand.
We launched the boat at Bevil port, headed back to the trotline, and this is when the fun starts.
When we arrived at the trotline location, I killed the main motor and eased up to tree that the line was tied to. From there, the boat was turned around and the trotline was pulled up. Everything was going ok,,,, until the line got hung up on a submerged snag. We were only about 30 – 40 feet into bout a 160 feet run. I was not about to cut the line this time. The line was cutting into my hand as I tried pulling the snag up. So I grabbed a pedestal pipe for a boat seat. the pipe is about 18 inches long and about 2 inches in diameter. I wrapped the trotline around the pipe a few times, then pulled up, the line gave just a little bit. I wrapped the slack line around the pipe, squatted down close to the water, then pulled with everything I had, squatted down close to the water, then pulled with everything I had again, each time I pulled up the line got about 1 – 2 feet of slack in it. Finally, after about 20 minutes of pulling a couple of feet at a time, a submerged log came to the surface.
Video about making up droplines, also known as juglines.
As I was keeping tension on the line, my stepson was able to get the line out from underneath the snag. When the line came free, it made a zinging sound as the line sliced through the water to release the stress.
We eased over to the 1 gallon bleach bottle secured to the other end of the trotline, but the line was hung up on yet another snag. This time I cut the line and we were able to pull the rest of the line free. The line came free from the snag and we were able to get all of our gear back.
Lesson learned – do not make the trotline too long. The longer the line, the more likely it is to get hung up on a snag.
Next Stop Juglines and Noodles
The trolling motor was pulled up, the main motor fired up, and we headed south to where the jugline and noodles were at. The problem was, one of the juglines was missing. We dropped the trolling motor and eased through the slough real slow, but the jugline was nowhere to be found.
Ok, maybe the jugline got out in the current and headed south. We got back on the main Angelina River, fired up the motor and after driving about 300 yards the jug is spotted in some weeds on the left hand side of the Angelina.
When the jug was pulled up, it had a 16 1/2 inch channel cat on the hook. 16 1/2 inches is ok size, but I wanted something bigger. The catfish was taken off the hook and released unharmed.
After finding the last jugline, we headed into a slough called Bee Tree Slough. Bee Tree Slough is a series shallow bodies of water, very much like canals. The only thing we saw in there was a gar about 3 – 4 feet long.
After about an hour in Bee Tree Slough and not catching anything, combined with the close to 100 degree heat, we decided it was time to go home.
The Angelina is my favorite fishing place here in southeast Texas. I personally prefer it over Dam B or even Lake Sam Rayburn.
Being able to slip of of the main river channel and into a slough provides a wonderful way to observe wildlife and relax.