Noodling - Adventures In Bare-Handed Fishing!

By: Daniel Eggertsen

It's an age-old fishing technique that my uncle taught me down in the Ozarks of southern Missouri - Noodling. Noodling means catching catfish with nothing more than your bare hand and quick reflexes.

No matter what you call it, tickling, hogging, grabbing, dogging or noodling, catching catfish with your bare hands is a truly man-against-nature experience! You can only imagine that this is the way our caveman ancestors must have got their fish suppers! Imagine yourself with a hand full of catfish guts, twisting and turning to dislodge that whale of a cat you got down there!

Okay, let's take a step back and ask - Exactly what is noodling? Well, let me break it down...

Step 1 - Go to a spot that is known to be popular with our whiskered friends. It also has to be at a time of year when the water is more than 80 degrees so they'll be spawning.

Step 2 - Find yourself an empty log, some tree roots, debris, a river bank, just about anywhere, and wiggle your fingers. What you're looking for is a male cat guarding his young, and when he sees something coming into his cozy little hideaway, he'll attack.

Step 3 - When he bites, get a handful of fish guts and pull. It might take some twisting and pulling, but if all goes well, you'll have that cat flappin and floppin on the end of your wrist... and you'll have some good fried catfish for supper tonight!

I know what you're saying - this is something only crazy rednecks in the backwaters would be insane enough to undertake. Surely a decent rod and some fishing gear isn't so hard to come by. What kind of maniac would plunge his hand right into the water and try to pull out a fish?

I'd say 2 things to that - first off, noodling is an old tradition, passed down from generation to generation. Second, it's a heck of a thrill, and if you try it once, you may toss that nice fishing rod right in the trash. There's nothing like knowing you caught one with your bare hand! Noodling gives you quite an adrenaline rush.

It's a great kick, and an effective fishing technique as many guys especially in the southern US will tell you. But, it's not without its dangers.

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