17 May 2011

Noodlers battle anti-noodlers in the state of Texas

Excerpts from an article in the Wall Street Journal:
...pushing a bill in the state Legislature to legalize hand fishing, also known as noodling, grabbing or hogging. Noodlers go into the water, then reach into holes, hollow tree trunks and other underwater nooks to find the fish...

The bill swam easily through the state house, but now rod-and-reel anglers are speaking up against the proposed law, currently in the state Senate. They say noodling is unfair to the fish, since they're grabbed in their burrows without a chance to swim away.

It's more sporting, antinoodlers argue, to dangle a hook and give the critters the option of biting or not...

While noodling has a long history in the U.S., only 17 states permit hand fishing, including Louisiana, Georgia and Oklahoma, home of the Okie Noodling Tournament...

Mr. Knowlton says noodling opponents "want to paint people who do this as lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut." Many people are under the erroneous impression that "everyone who noodles is an uneducated, toothless hillbilly," he says, noting that he is a college graduate. He also has all his teeth...

Techniques vary. When the fisherman puts his hand into the hole where the fish is, the fish usually bites. Then he can grab the catfish by a lower-jaw bone, or, if he sticks his arm in deep enough into the fish's body, he can poke his fingers through its gills...

Texas has plenty of catfish at the moment, says Tim Bonner, a biologist who heads the aquatic research station at Texas State University in San Marcos, south of Austin. And as long as it is well managed, noodling shouldn't threaten that, he says.

To some in Texas, the ban on noodling is a sign of government run amok.
There's more in the very interesting article at the WSJ. For those totally unfamiliar with noodling, the old embedded video will provide some insight.

Those who find this interesting will probably also be informed/entertained by the story of "the Kentucky Turtle Man" (who doesn't have all of his teeth...)


  1. My guess is that the number of noodlers won't skyrocket just because of a new law. When noodling, noodlers also stand a good chance of "catching" an alligator snapping turtle.

  2. This is still a risk and reward game, as Daddy noted. I say go for it.

  3. No Thanks,
    I wouldn't stick my hand into the mouth of a two foot long catfish hiding in a hollowed out tree log under three feet of muddy water if there was $5,000.00 hidden inside em.


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