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Handfishing for Catfish - Noodling Tips

Apr 19, 2008
Noodling is one of the great traditions in catfish fishing. It basically means grabbing the fish with your hand, holding on and bringing that sucker to the surface. You don't need a pole, a line, tackle or anything. Dangerous? Maybe. Crazy? It's possible. Fun? You bet. Noodling is great fun. Here are some tips to help you catch more fish with only your hands, fingers, muscles and a little bit of cunning!

Know Your Hole - Your fishing hole, that is. There are two reasons you should know the area where you noodle. 1) You are more likely to know where that big cat is hiding out waiting for a bite to come along; 2) Even more importantly, to ensure the safety, health and long life of your fingers. Watch out for areas where there are snapping turtles, snake and other nasty individuals who would like to take a chunk out of your hand, or any other part of your body they can get to. In other words, don't go noodling in crocodile-infested waters or other potentially dangerous places. And, always make sure you have a first-aid kit just in case of an emergency.

2 Pairs Of Eyes Are Better Than One - Get yourself a "spotter," or somebody to watch out for you. They can get a different angle on what's going on. Sometimes your field of vision is a little limited while your reaching down under a log and wiggling your fingers. Sometimes a trusted buddy can play "lookout," and tell you what they see down there. They can also help you when you're trying to get that big fish out of the water. Very few noodlers ever go out hand-grabbing by themselves. It always helps to have a buddy along.

Use Protective Gloves - No, catfish don't have teeth and they are not likely to take a hunk out of your hand. But, some of those big cats that weigh 50 or 60 pounds can cut up your hand fighting you when you pull him out. Noodlers have been known to come away from an underwater wrestling match with a whopper of a cat with some battle scars to go with their story. Any kind of gloves that give you some protection but still plenty of movement will get the job done.

Be Ready For A Fight - Remember a few key things about Mr. Whiskers. For one thing, he can be as big as a small child. For another thing, he does not want to leave his nice, safe, little hidey-hole. What you are going for when you are noodling are those big suckers who are just hanging out in their shelter waiting for a bite to come along. They have no interest in getting out of that hole, much less being pulled out of the water, gutted, fried and eaten by a bunch of happy catfishers. I mentioned bringing along a "spotter"; well, you might want to make sure it's a good buddy whose always got your back and would give you a hand if it turns into a heavyweight championship match between man and fish. If you talk to a lot of noodlers, you'll hear stories about these fights. They sometimes last up to half an hour or more.
About the Author
Dan Eggertsen is a fishing researcher and enthusiast who is committed to providing the best catfish fishing information possible. Get more information on catfish noodling here: http://www.askcatfishfishing.com/
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