Noodling, sometimes called Hand Fishing or Catfisting (among other things), is the art of catching catfish with your bare hands. It is inexpensive – no boat, rod, reel, nets, or bait needed. Just your bare hands. As the Noodler wades into the murky water, he rams his hand into a catfish hole and wiggles his fingers (the fingers being the only “bait” used). The catfish then swims out to bite the hand as the Noodler sticks his arm down the fish’s throat and wrestles to bring his “catch” up and out of the water.
Some catfish can weigh as much as 100 pounds and removing the Noodler’s hand from its mouth can be quite a challenge; therefore, it is recommended that you don’t go Noodling alone. Usually a Spotter is with the Noodler at all times to assist during times of trouble. Dangers include severe cuts and bruises, losing fingers, drowning if the Noodler is in deep water or gets tangled in underwater brush, and bites or deadly attacks from other aquatic life in the area.
This sport is only legal in 13 states and done mostly in the Southern and Midwest states where catfish are plentiful and considered a sport of tradition and can be traced back to the American Indians who used this method to catch fish for survival. It was later used again during the Depression for the same reason – the necessity to put food on the table.
For information on the Okie Noodling Tournament, visit our June Hobby Ideas page.