It’s hard to imagine anything dumber than wading out into a muddy river, reaching down deep underwater into a dark hole and wiggling your fingers as bait hoping that a giant catfish will clamp down on your hand so you can pull it out of the hole, without getting pulled in yourself. That’s a basic description of catfish Noodling, or the sport of fishing for catfish by hand.
It’s a dangerous sport that kills a few people every year and injures many more. There is more than cats that lurk in those holes – snapping turtles or snakes can do damage, not to mention that giant catfish that could just as well drag you down into the hole.
The term Noodling is used in Oklahoma; depending on what southern state you hail from you may call it grabbling, stumping, hogging or dogging. But it’s all the same thing – putting on your overalls, wading into some murky body of water, and taking your life into your hands (or at least the life of your hands) all in the name of a little sport.
ESPN Outdoors has done a story on Noodling. Okie Noodling premiered at the 2001 South by Southwest film festival. Noodling For Flatheads: Moonshine, Monster Catfish and Other Southern Comforts includes Noodling and other odd Southern traditions.
As always, Google is your friend if you want to know more.
NEW – Visit my Catfish Noodling Store where you can buy all sorts of things related to the great sport of Catfish Noodling! Through trusted vendor Amazon.com.