Fishing For BullheadsFishing For Bullheads

Despite the somewhat derogatory name, these prolific members of the catfish family have earned the grudging respect of anglers all over the world.  Bullheads can be depended upon to bite at almost anything anywhere at almost any time of day, put up a worthy fight on the line, and once caught, make a tasty meal.

The standard angling technique for bullheads is still fishing. Unlike bass or musky fishing, there is no constant motion present in bullhead angling. Bullheads usually bite in two ways. In colder water, the line will twitch and move in spurts, but as the water temperature warms and the fish become more active, bites are signaled by a few light taps and a line-tightening run.

Tackle

Bullheads are predominantly bottom feeders, making the use of a bobber or float unnecessary. It may actually keep the bait away from the bullhead by keeping it off the bottom or by moving the bait away from fish on a windy day. Even the most inexperienced angler can discern a bite without a bobber as bullheads rarely bite so lightly that they don't move the line or rod tip.

Everything from cane poles to deep sea fishing rods has been used to catch bullheads, but one of the best outfits is a medium action spinning or spin-cast rod and  reel. With these combinations, the angler can cast great distances, "feel" the bite, and easily set the hook. The reel should be filled with a good quality 6 to 10 pound test line.

Hook size is another part of the terminal tackle that causes anglers to miss bites. Sizes No. 2 to 1/0 are ideal for catching bullheads. Long shanked hooks should be used because most bullheads swallow the hook, and short shanked models are harder to remove.

Bullheads are predominantly bottom feeders, making the use of a bobber or float unnecessary. It may actually keep the bait away from the bullhead by keeping it off the bottom or by moving the bait away from fish on a windy day. Even the most inexperienced angler can discern a bite without a bobber as bullheads rarely bite so lightly that they don't move the line or rod tip.

Bait

Bullheads are omnivorous and will eat nearly anything they can swallow. However, a discussion of baits preferred by bullheads could very well be limited to worms and nightcrawlers. These two baits catch, by far, the majority of bullheads and are used almost exclusively by dedicated bullhead anglers.

Some other baits used for bullheads include leeches, live and dead minnows, liver, beef steak, shrimp, dough balls, stink bait, and freshwater clams. since the bullhead is a scavenger that feeds by smell, anglers should stay away from artificial lures.

Handling

A note of caution-you must be careful when handling bullhead. They have sharp spines on their pectoral (front) and dorsal (top) fins. The spines are used for defense from predators, and can easily puncture human skin. However, if you know how to properly grip a bullhead, you can avoid these spines. When removing a hook from a bullhead, securely wrap your hand around the fish, directly behind the gills, being sure to compress the pectoral and dorsal fins against the body. Then use your needle nose pliers it makes hook removal much easier.
by Jay Bryce
References and Bibliography
Jay Bryce is a community manger at iFished.com.  iFished.com has fishing and local information for over 40,000 lakes and  fishing areas in the United States. Information includes current  weather and forecasts, best times fishing charts, maps, local businesses, Fishing Store and more.

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