Noodling – Adventures In Bare-Handed Fishing!

First, you don’t want to go noodling in a lake that’s full of snapping turtles or snakes. A beaver can also mess up your hand pretty good. There are some noodling veterans down south missing some fingers. Be sure you know your waters before you start shoving your hands under things.

Another thing you have to worry about is getting a real big one. I mean, one that is big enough to pull you under! It does happen. Until you’ve matched your strength against one of those 50-pounders, you don’t know what beasts they can be. I’ve heard of guys getting pulled under and having quite a wrestling match with one of these giant cats, then just giving up and running back for their poles!

And, there are some states where noodling is illegal. In most southern states it’s okay, but you’ll want to check with the authorities before you head out to bare hand it. Otherwise, you might have to think of a pretty good alibi for why you’re crouching around out there in the lake.

Now that I’ve said only crazy rednecks do it, and I’ve told you that you could lose your fingers to a snapping turtle… here are some good noodling tips!

– Wear gloves. For safety reasons lots of noodlers wear gloves. Even a catfish might swallow your whole hand, and that could be dangerous. Gloves will keep you protected, but some noodlers claim gloves hinder their efforts; with gloves you’re not sure if what your getting is a cat or not. Still, if you’re worried about those fingers, I’d sport some gloves.

– Get ready for the unexpected. That catfish may zip any direction, including right at you. Be ready to reach for any part of him that you can get. Catfish are slippery, but one good place to grab at them is the gills, especially if he’s a big one. Otherwise he might make a run for it and leave you empty-handed.

– If you really want to get into it, try using scuba gear. If you can see what’s going on down there, you’ll have a great big advantage over him. If he tries to zip away, you’ll have much better chance of catching him. I’ve heard of some noodlers building little hutches or rock enclosures at the bottom of the lake for the catfish to spawn in, and then using their scuba gear to go down looking for them.

Noodling may be stupid and dangerous, but it’s one of the biggest fishing kicks there is. Get somebody to take you on a noodling trip, and whether you end up doing it again or not, at least it’ll be an experience you won’t forget.

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Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

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