A more untraditional method of catching catfish primarily in the south is through a technique called noodling. Catfish are prized fish because they grow to extremely large and create a tussle with anglers. The noodling method is untraditional compared to mainstream fishing approaches such as nets, rods, or spearguns. Noodlers get up close and personal in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Just exactly what is noodling?

Why Is It Called Catfish Noodling

The method of catching fish by noodling derives its name from human fingers having a noodle-like appearance to catfish.

Rather than remaining on a dry surface, fishermen enter the water and utilize only their hands to catch fish. Holes along the banks of rivers and lakes are home to flathead and blue catfish laying eggs. Anglers swim in the water to locate holes where cats are hiding.

Once a hole is located, the person sticks their arm into the opening while dangling fingers hoping that a blue or flathead will latch onto their hand. 

Once a catfish bites the person’s hand, the angler must wrap the hand around the gills and pull it from the hole. A wrestling match will ensue as the fish is drawn from the opening to the surface of the water. 

Remember to obtain a freshwater fishing license in North Carolina, South Carolina, or Georgia, depending on which state you are fishing.

What Are The Dangers Of Catfish Noodling

Anglers who partake in catfish noodling are confronted with dangers. The dangers are unavoidable so understand them before entering the water. Lastly, the catfish can exceed 100 pounds in weight. 

The first risk is injuring the hand while grappling with the catfish. Although the cats are not strong enough or have sharp enough teeth to remove the limb, deep cuts and abrasions are sustained. A method to help reduce skin punctures is to wear gloves. 

The second danger is strong currents. Rivers, in particular, are susceptible to swift currents, which quickly overwhelmed the angler, and the risk of drowning occurs. Before entering the water, ensure that you are a strong enough swimmer to fight fast-moving water.

Lastly, wildlife beyond catfish poses a significant risk to anglers. When nesting catfish leave the hole, turtles and other creatures enter. Unsuspecting noodlers are bit by snapping turtles when reaching into the opening. In addition to snapping turtles, alligators are present blow the fall line in each of the three states.

Do People Die Noodling For Catfish

Unfortunately, people are killed while engaging in noodling. The contributing factor leading to death is drowning. 

Drowning is a combination of the angler being overwhelmed by handling the fish in the water and succumbing to strong currents. 

One safety measure must be strictly adhered to when entering the water. Whenever you are getting into the water, ensure to have a spotter in the water alongside. In the event of an emergency, the spotter will swiftly lend a hand. Don’t fall victim to the sport of noodling.

Why Is Catfish Noodling Illegal In Some States

The reason that catfish noodling is illegal in some states is for two reasons. First off, government officials feel that the sport is hazardous and poses a significant threat to anglers.

The second reason is conservation purposes. Marine biologists measure fish populations and feel that noodling risks balancing a healthy blue and flathead catfish population. 

Do People Eat Catfish

While noodling provides a thrill for anglers, they are also excellent table fare. The fillets are white, flakey, and amazing when cut into cubes to create a catfish nugget dinner. 

Fried catfish with a side of french fries, coleslaw, tartar sauce for dipping, and lemon for squeezing is hard to pass up. 

Are You Up For The Adventure Of Catfish Noodling

While noodling is a different approach to catfish, it is described as an exhilarating experience. Battling a bruiser cat by hand requires strength and determination. Remember to bring along a camera to snap a photo with the prized catch as you stand on the muddy banks of the lake or river. Most importantly, remember to noodle with a spotter nearby.