Bush hooking the Waccamaw

Capt. Todd Vick (right), enjoys catching catfish with bush lines on the Waccamaw River. (Picture by Brian Cope)

Catching catfish without rod-and-reel

During the heat of summer, Capt. Todd Vick of Fishin Freshwater Charters & River Tours in Murrells Inlet likes to set bush lines for catfish on the Waccamaw River.

“This is a highly effective way of catching catfish that range from great eating-sized fish all the way up to trophy cats,” he said.

The trip starts in the evening, with Vick tying strands of 100-pound corded line onto flexible limbs along the banks of the river.

“You need to use big hooks, like 13/0, and I usually add an egg sinker above the hook. You don’t want to tie onto a really stiff limb, because that gives the catfish leverage to break or straighten the hook,” he said.

Once he has the line tied on, he baits the hook with either a live eel or a piece of cut bait.

“Either will work. I tend to use big, live eels if I’m after really big catfish. For eating-sized fish, cut bait works best. However, trophy-sized catfish often eat small pieces of cut bait. And sometimes, small catfish will eat big eels. So, you never really know what you’ll catch until you pull the line up,” he said.

After he has set a dozen or so lines, he heads in for the day, then gets back on the river first thing the next morning.

“Now, you just check the lines you set the night before,” he said.

“Sometimes I’ll run all the way to the last one before checking any. Then I’ll check them on the way back to the ramp. Other times, I’ll start checking them beginning with the one closest to the ramp,” said Vick (843-333-8200).

Many times, you’ll see the line tangled around other bushes near the tree from which it’s tied. Other times, you’ll see the limb you’ve tied to is bouncing wildly.

“We call those limb-shakers. But sometimes, the line will be completely slack and you’ll think nothing is there. Then, once you grab the line, you realize you’ve got a fish on the line. And it can get exciting then, with the fish thrashing about,” he said.

He removes each line after checking it, and makes note of what he caught, if anything, at each spot.

“This is really an enjoyable way of fishing. It’s just interesting to see what you’ll catch, because you just never really know until you grab ahold of that line,” he said.

About Brian Cope 2800 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@carolinasportsman.com.

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