The Verdict Is In – Lead Head Jigs Do Prevent Gut Hooking

A Small Bullhead Perfectly Hooked by a Small Jig Head

Just a quick update today.  As I have written about a few times we have been catching bullhead cats for use in our aquaponics and aquatic systems along with a small stock pond on my property.

The chief problem has been gut hooking, even quite small bullheads with even quite large hooks.  At one location I was able to use a slip rig with fairly heavy weight and a tight line set up.  This worked really well reducing gut hooks significantly.

I have also written on a method using lead head jigs instead of standard hooks that is reported to cut down gut hookings to almost zero.  Recently I found a great little bullhead hole at a small creek near my home.  So far I have explored about 500 yards of this creek and there is only one deep hole in that stretch.  As you might imagine the bullheads really pile up in that spot.

Recently rain totally altered the creek, so that hole is now only accessible, when using rod and reel, from a small sand bar, with a massive tree overhang.  This results in a very short cast to the area with the fish, I am talking 10 feet or there about.  Using a tight line rig with slip weight in such a situation is simply not practical.  So I decided to test the jig head theory.

The results?  In 2 trips I have caught 19 bullheads, mostly about 7-10 inches in length.  Of the 19, 17 were lip hooked, one was hooked on the outside of his face (ouch) and one was gut hooked.  And frankly the gut hooked one was my fault.

Action had slowed so I decided to grab some perch for more cut bait.  I laid the rod on the ground and the fish had a lot of time to much on the bait.  Even though he swallowed it, it was less so than in other similar situations.  It was also a bit bigger than the other fish, if I were catching them steadily of his size I would have gone up to a bigger sized jig head.  Anyway, I simply “shucked him” and had him as an appetizer with steak that night.

In the end though, lead head jigs seem remarkably effective at reducing gut hookings, they also didn’t appear to make the fish hook shy or reduce hook up percentages in any meaningful way.  I will admit 19 fish is not a big sample size, but until I tried this I was guthooking about 65% of the fish I hooked up, I was also missing many because of trying to hit them fast (too fast) before they inhaled the bait.  So next time you are out for bullheads, give the jig head method a try.

Final note, I did get a few on night crawlers, however the most effective bait proved to be cut up perch (sunnies, brim, bluegill, etc).  Hot dog also worked but were very easily stripped off with this method.  So I would recommend cut bait as your first choice. In any event I would say with confidence that if you monitor your rod well, lead heads do seem to as claimed, cut down gut hooking to almost zero.

If you need some jig heads, just get some at any local tackle or big box store, or check out this great little assortment on Amazon.

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Indiana Researchers find a Bullhead Catfish with a Belly Full of Bluegills

Click the Image to See the Original Source Article Reviewed in this Post

Wanted to do a quick write up on this one for a variety of reasons.  First the jist of the article,

Biologists were assessing fish populations on Loomis as they do every year on various lakes. The bullhead catfish pictured was discovered in a net along with dozens of other fish.Capturing bullheads is not that unusual. But this one was.

“The fish’s stomach was bulging and twitching,” said Bacula. “It was the fattest and most unusual bullhead I had ever seen. I wanted to see what was in there.”

“We were shocked,” said Bacula. “We counted remains of 18 bluegill in that 13-incher’s stomach. From what we could tell, those ‘gills were 3 to 5 inches long at the time they were eaten.”

Read the Full Article Here

Okay so here are a few of my thoughts.  First the researchers seem to find this unusual because they say “bullheads are bottom feeders”, I want to dispel that half myth today.  It would be more accurate to say that bullheads often feed on the bottom but they are not exclusively bottom feeders.

At one point in time I kept about a dozen bullheads in a 37 gallon fish tank.  Little guys about 4-7 inches long.  Just to learn more about them.  There was a pond about a mile from my home, in summer it teemed with fat head minnows.  About twice a week I went down to it and dip netted a bunch of them.  Took them home and put them in the tank, this was dinner.

I would sit back with a beer and listen to the sound of plunk, ploop, plop over and over as they would devour the minnows off the surface.  One of the largest yellow bullheads I ever caught was over 2 pounds (keep in mind the Texas state record is only 3.2 lbs.)  I was fishing in a city park pond with a beetle spin and the fish hit it running only about 1 foot deep in about 8 feet of water.

One of my favorite things is kicking back and just catching a bunch of bullheads with either hot dogs or night crawlers.  I usually use two rods, one on the bottom and the other with a float, I usually set the float to suspend the bait about 12-18 inches off the bottom.  Some days the bottom rig produces best, other days the suspended one does.

The point is bullheads are fish and fish move in patterns and at times due to temperature, season or food availability they feed at various depths, they don’t exclusively bottom feed.  Hence we should not limit ourselves to only fishing on the bottom.

Next the fact that a 13 inch bullhead was eating 4 inch bluegill should make us think about using shiners or bluegills (where legal) as bait at times, not just stink bait, crawlers, cut bait etc.  My grandfather always said the bigger the bait the bigger the fish, so next time you are being overrun with 3 inchers, consider trying some live bait a bit too big for the ones you are catching.

In any event this is a pretty cool story, do take time to check out the original article at South Bend Tribune.

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