Can You Really Catch Catfish With Your Hands?

By: Daniel Eggertsen

Catching catfish by hand is a long standing practice that dates back to when the Native American population caught them that way. It used to be a must, of course, before the types of fishing equipment we commonly think of came into existence. Even with rudimentary fishing equipment, people still used methods of catfish fishing by hand.

Today, you are likely to see even more people searching for this seemingly new method of fishing for catfish. Anglers are often challenged in a unique way by this method of fishing. Most often, people are looking for a new way to simply get fish in hand. NO matter why you want to go catfish fishing by hand, chances are you will enjoy the process.

The popularity of the sport has grown, and has gotten a considerable amount of publicity since it was legalized in Missouri. Be aware, it is not as easy as it sounds. It is most definitely a sport to try though, especially if your passion is catfish.

There are currently eleven states that have legalized catfishing by hand, or 'noodling' as it is commonly called. Those eleven states include Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Kentucky.

The way in which catfishing by hand is carried out is somewhat interesting, to say the least. In hand fishing, the fisherman actually goes out into the water, dives down, and reaches into likely areas to find his prey, and haul it, by hand, out of the water. The only special equipment needed for handfishing is gloves that help protect fishermen from the rows of sharp teeth in a catfish's mouth. Advocates state that this is a traditional method of fishing for catfish dating back to our native American roots, while others are alarmed by the often dangerous practice.

Many people who practice handfishing, or noodling, actually plant boxes in catfish rich areas, in which they hope to entice catfish to spawn. Others simply rely on the natural spawning grounds to attract these catfish. The catfish in turn spawn in these areas, leaving mature males to guard their nest. The handfishermen then dive down to likely areas such as submerged hollow logs, rocky outcroppings, or underwater caves. They reach inside these areas, hoping to find catfish there, allow these fish to bite down on their arms, and physically pull them from their nest. They then wrestle them to the bank.

Those who oppose the practice site that it is dangerous and causes many injuries to those who partake in this sport. Indeed, it does cause numerous injuries. Perhaps the worst possibility is that you might find something other than catfish in the area in which you search. Many handfishermen find the snakes, snapping turtles, or even alligators that also inhabit these areas rather than the catfish they are seeking. In fact, most people who have noodled for catfish bear the proof on their flesh. Scars and missing digits are not uncommon sights in noodlers.

Those who oppose the practice of hand fishing state that, since regulations state that since only mature catfish may be caught when noodling, this type of fishing might deplete the catfish population. Most states do have regulations on the size of catfish which can be caught when noodling, but the fact is that the spawning grounds of catfish are always heavily fished by fishermen, and there is absolutely no evidence what so ever that the practice of handfishing for catfish has depleted the catfish population.

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