Lake Norman & Mooresville

Try jug-hook fishing for a change of pace

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 (2-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 user’s name and address or North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission customer number on each jug with a waterproof marker.

• Attach a length of fishing line (4 to 12 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 70 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 Wildlife Resources Commission 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 trotlines, set-hooks and jug-hooks regulations, visit

Note: In Lake Norman and Badin Lake, the daily creel for blue catfish greater than 32 inches long is one.

Tips 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 9- to 12-inch sections. A piece of PVC pipe inserted through the noodle and capped on either end adds rigidity.

Upcoming events

Free fishing seminar: “How to Use Topographic Maps to Improve Fishing” is the topic for discussion at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, in Mooresville. Jake Bussolini and I will discuss the basics of interpreting topographic maps, and we’ll pinpoint some of the best fishing spots on Lake Norman. Details: 704-658-0822.

Hot spots of the week

A late summer heatwave has slowed fishing a bit, but anglers fishing at sunrise and dusk are being rewarded with nice stringers of bass at deep-water docks and rip-rapped points. Depending on preference, soft plastics skipped under wooden structures and top-water lures worked slowly around the dock pilings have been productive. Cat-fishing is excellent, particularly blue catfish that are hitting live and cut bait on a rod and reel.

The surface-water temperature varies by location but is mainly in the 80s in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 2.8 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 2.7 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake.