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The St. Johns River The Intracoastal and Beyond
How To Run a Trot Line

So, you've built your trot line and you are ready to catch some fish! Good luck. It used to be that your could put a line out and catch lots of catfish and turtle, maybe a brim, crappie or the occasional bass. It's kind of slim pickings now.

There is a lot of agricultural land around us and the pesticides and fertilizer they use run off and poisen the water. Drought has dropped the water levels to a point where garfish and mudfish are the fittest survivors and the catfish taste muddy. Development in the city has consumed vital marshlands that are no longer working as filters.

There are still fish out there, but there aren't so many of them. Judy and I have gotten too lazy to go to all the trouble anymore, but I recently went with a friend as he pulled in his line.

A Trot Line.

The line was put out the night before, so early in the morning the guys went out to pull in their catch.

After untying the line from the tree where it was secured, they pulled the boat along by pulling in the taut line, feeding it into a bucket where it could later be dumped out, cleaned and re-racked.

Pulling the line in one hook at a time, the day's catch was hauled in:

A Mudfish.
Another Mudfish.

Pulling in a trot line.

Mudfish are big, but no good to eat (no doubt someone has a recipe - send it along).

Splashes along the length of the line kept our hopes up that there would be something worth keeping.

We did start seeing a little more variety...

Tree Bass
A Tree-Bass.
Several More Mudfish.
Alligator Gar
An Alligator Gar.
An Alligator.

We didn't actually catch the alligator, but he was hanging around ready to take our cast-offs. This time we didn't get anything worth keeping, but a few days later we went out again and got quite a few catfish - both channel cats and yellow-bellied cats. That's just the way it goes!

How to Make a Trot Line

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