What is catfish noodling?

A couple of my buddies want to go “noodling” for catfish. Since I didn’t want to appear stupid – I agreed. Can you tell me what I’ve gotten myself into?

Well, if you’re lucky, you may just get the opportunity to participate is what is considered to be one of the ultimate thrills in catfishing. If you’re not, you could end up losing an arm or at the very least a few fingers. “Noodling” is an extremely dangerous sport and is not legal in all areas, so you’ll want to check before you head out. In very basic terms, Noodling is a term used to describe a technique that involves fishing for catfish with nothing more than your bare hands, it may also be referred to as dogging, grabbling, tickling or even hogging catfish. Here’s how it works: You wade into an area of water where you know catfish are likely hang out and simply begin feeling around the holes, depressions, logs, rocks or other cover until you find a catfish. This is extremely effective during spawning season when the male catfish is guarding the eggs. Once you find the fish, you actually encourage it to bite, thereby providing you with the opportunity to get your hand inside it’s mouth and to pull it from the water. The obvious danger is that you’ll never know what might be lurking in the hole until you’ve actually inserted your hand or fingers into it. In fact, you are just as likely to find a snake, beaver or a snapping turtle as you are a catfish. While some noodlers wear gloves to protect their hands and fingers, the die-hards believe the gloves make it more difficult to determine what is the in the hole and how to get a hold of it.


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

One Response to “What is catfish noodling?”

  1. chris says:

    basically all you are goin to do is get in the water and find a hole in the bank or around some rocks and stick or hands /feet in the hole and hope the catfish bites you and when it does you grab there lower jaw and put a stringer through them and then you pull them up

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