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Limb lining for catfish 

Sit back, relax and catch a fish or two

SPRINGTIME IS FAST AND FURIOUS for the multispecies angler. First, there’s pre-spawn bass, then crappie move to the shallows. As the crappie spawn ends, the bluegill spawn begins another couple weeks of fun. By June, most of the fishing frenzy has subsided and the weather has evened out. Dogwood winter and blackberry winter have passed, and the catfish are on the move. It’s time to break out the limb lines.

In case you’re wondering, a limb line is a line tied to an overhanging tree limb with a hook and a sinker. The limbs are set and baited, left alone for a couple of hours at a time, and then they are checked. Limb lining allows you to relax while the lines do the work.

I look forward to a shaking limb each summer. Shining a spotlight down the bank and seeing a limb dipping into the water is always exciting. How big is the catfish that’s shaking the limb? You never know. Sometimes a small catfish will pull like a giant, especially when hooked shortly before you arrive.

Our limb line trip each June is more for relaxing than fishing. My wife and I sit around camp, cook and listen to the birds sing. We leave the big boat home and take the small johnboat that is perfect for limb lining. It can be pulled up on shore until time to run the lines. We also choose an area where we can set up camp at water’s edge. Kentucky offers many waterfront campsites to enjoy a week of limb lining.

In Kentucky, each person is allowed 25 limb lines. This number is plenty to cover a large cove or long section of shoreline. Limb lines can be attached to a tree limb, a tree trunk or other stationary object. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources requires that your customer ID be attached to each line. Previously, the requirement was for name and address. Your customer ID can be found on your fishing license. Check the regulations on the agency’s website for requirements that can be different for certain areas or bodies of water.

Limb lining is a great way to catch several catfish to prep for the freezer—and for us, it’s one of our favorite camping trips of the season. It is a great way to get out and enjoy the great Kentucky outdoors with the whole family.

KEN MCBROOM, an outdoors writer/photographer, created Growing up in Lynchburg, Tennessee, McBroom now lives in western Kentucky. 

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