Noodling: No Rod, No Reel


Noodling, is fishing for catfish, using only your bare hands. The sport started in the southern United States but has since grown in popularity, expanding its practices to some midwestern states. Noodling is currently legal in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Kansas.


Noodling can definitely be considered a cheaper and more dangerous form of fishing. Most catfish live in holes or under deep brush in rivers and lakes. The noodler will get in the water and will feel around for “catfish holes” with their feet and arms. The noodler than sticks their arm in the hole, with the plan that the catfish will bite down on their arm, in self-defense. If the catfish is large enough the noodler can grab it by the gills. 


It is important to have a spotter with you while noodling, to help bring the catfish to shore. Depending on the size of the catfish and the noodler a spotter may be necessary so the fish doesn’t drag the noodler underwater. Losing fingers is also a risk, it could be from the bit itself, or an infection that was caused from the bite. Another huge risks to noodlers are other animals that could be hiding in “catfish holes.” Alligators, snakes, snapping turtles, beavers, muskrats, and other animals have been known to takeover “catfish holes.”

Okie Noodling Tournament:

The Okie Noodling Tournament is the largest Noodling tournament in the world. This year will be the 13th annual tournament. It is taking place at Wacker’s Park in Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma on June 23, 2012. Because of the growing popularity of the sport, and features done in the LA Times and The Washington Journal the grand prize in 2011, was $1,000 for the biggest catfish caught. Attendance for the 2011 Okie Noodling Tournament was well over 5,000 people.

Noodling Videos:

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