Catching Catfish with Setlines in the Spring

Daniel C Nielsen   Wednesday, April 18, 2007 2:22 AM

An easy way to catch catfish in the spring is on a setline and every year about this time I start to get the itch. I don't know exactly what causes it. No I don't mean a physical itch. It's something that triggers a sensation inside my inner most being.

Maybe it's the heavy spring rains that cause small tributaries in this area to become swollen creeks, and in turn flow into the rivers.

Maybe it's the green grass that I'm not accustom to seeing or smelling after the long white winter.

Maybe it's the Yellow headed blackbird migrating through northeast Nebraska on its way farther north looking for its mate who has already passed through this area earlier. That fact still remains a mystery to me.

Maybe it's the warm spring nights that seem to produce early mosquitoes and other bugs attracted to the porch lights.

Maybe it's the smell of dirt from the farm fields as the farmers work the soil for the first time.

And then again maybe it's the barn swallow after building its nest and hatching their young, and tending to their needs.

Whatever it is, the willow trees always come to my mind. Creek willows are a sign that set line fishing is very near and the catfish are hungry. Usually the end of May the willows have gotten their leaves and are ready to be cut to make poles for bank fishing.

All it takes is a good handful of cut limbs, some heavy test line, and some heavy-duty hooks--your almost ready to go. Now add some good size weights like spark plugs (old ones, not from your wife's car) or something heavy enough to hold the line vertical in fast current.

Next item on the list is bait. Natural is better e.g. crayfish, or any live baitfish. Next best thing would be raw meat items such as livers, dead poultry, and maybe a raw shrimp or two. If you really want to get down and dirty try some entrails--chicken is my favorite.

Last tip: Use a burlap bag and fill it with chicken entrails. Anchor it along the bank near where you will be fishing to act as attractant.

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8 Comments

re: Catching Catfish with Setlines in the Spring
4/20/2007 4:30:08 PM  Jones says,

Yeah, I get that itch too! My wife is always looking for a cure.

re: Catching Catfish with Setlines in the Spring
5/10/2007 5:11:53 PM  Mark Podlak says,

No offense, but this article is lame. I have read a lot of your tutorials, but lately things have gone a little down hill. What gives???

re: Catching Catfish with Setlines in the Spring
11/9/2008 5:38:50 AM  Al says,

No offence to the last comment but the article isn't lame. Maybe a little dry at first but the last half was good. someone who has never catfished might find it valuable.

re: Catching Catfish with Setlines in the Spring
11/9/2008 5:39:17 AM  Al says,

No offence to the last comment but the article isn't lame. Maybe a little dry at first but the last half was good. someone who has never catfished might find it valuable.

re: Catching Catfish with Setlines in the Spring
4/23/2009 5:33:36 PM  Real catman says,

Dead bait is for the birds, Channel cats are cool and all, but Flathead is where its at. Tell me you don't get dissapointed when you notice from a distance that your limb is pulled to the water and you know something is about to go down, but it winds up being that roundhead.

re: Catching Catfish with Setlines in the Spring
6/23/2009 5:23:31 PM  new to setlines says,

The article is helpful, but I'm confused about 2 things. First, how large to I cut the willow branches. Second, why do I want to keep the line "verticle" and where am I trying to keep it Verticle in relation too? Thanks

re: Catching Catfish with Setlines in the Spring
3/1/2010 2:53:33 PM  herper says,

Good info I will try it. I have cought monster Flatheads in April on Bullheads. I can put my head in there mouth.I also have the pics to prove it. Undercut banks are the key. Later

re: Catching Catfish with Setlines in the Spring
7/18/2010 12:14:24 PM  Chris says,

a few more things to add that could help. setline is more of a general term as is willow branches. if using poles i'd say about 9' is a good length.. and make sure the part you jam in the mud has makeshift "barbs" and anchor it to somthing sturdy. make sure the line you use isint boyant that dosent help, live bait is your best bet for flathead but anything works. As far as finding the fish I generally go by the rule of wherever it looks like you could get hung up real easy is the best place, other than that bait and check often for best results.

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