This Is How Some Truly Dedicated People Go Fishing These Days
Noodling is when a fisherman simply sticks their fist into a known catfish hole, hoping that one of the fish thinks it’s bait.
Now, THIS is how you fish.
They wait for it to bite. When it does, they pull the fish up to the surface triumphantly with their hand still in its mouth.
While it sounds like a simple technique, there is actually a lot of strategy that goes into noodling. A noodler goes underwater to depths ranging from only a few feet to up to twenty feet. They place their hand inside a discovered catfish hole. If all goes as planned, the catfish will swim forward and latch onto the fisherman’s hand, usually as a defensive maneuver, in order to escape the hole. If the fish is particularly large, the noodler can hook the hand around its gills.
Most noodlers have spotters who help them bring the catfish in, either to shore or to their boat. Noodling in pairs is considered important for safety, and also makes it a more social activity, with noodling partners often forming long-term partnerships.
Noodling can result in superficial cuts and minor wounds to the noodler. This can be reduced by wearing gloves and other protective clothing. Losing fingers is also a risk, whether from the bite or infection. Most holes are deep enough that diving is necessary, so there can be a danger of drowning.
The greatest physical threat posed to noodlers, however, comes from other forms of aquatic life found in catfish holes. Far more dangerous than catfish are alligators, snakes, beavers, muskrats and snapping turtles, who will take over abandoned catfish holes as homes of their own.