Ways to Catch Fish

Bank Poling and Limb Lining

March 16, 2012

Bank poles are used in slow southern U.S. rivers to catch catfish. Along with several other passive catfishing techniques, such as trotlining and jugging, bank poling is simple but effective. Cane is the material of choice for bank poles. Guided by the principle that short sticks snap more easily than long, springy ones, fishermen set long poles over likely catfish lairs at an angle of forty-five degrees or less from shore, securing them in the mud. Angle one too high, and it may break under the strain of a hooked fish; angle it too low, and a hooked fish may pull it into the river.

The fisherman ties strong braided fishing line near the base of each pole and then knots it at two-foot intervals all the way to the top; this helps distribute tension while fighting a fish in the same way that round guides do on a modern fishing rod. The amount of line left dangling is about equal to the length of the pole. The fisherman sets up a gauntlet of these outfits, baits the hooks, sits back, and waits for the poles to start bobbing.

A related technique is limb lining. Here the angler ties lines to limber but the strong tree branches growing above a river, preferably near an undercut bank. This is said to work for wary flathead catfish.

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