In the shallow mud that lie beneath the Mississippi River, a group of friends sits with their glasses in their hands, and scurrying through the river looking for deep-sealed holes or logs. A different group is positioned close to the boat launch, watching the cracked concrete around the dock.
They’re hunting to find catfish-friendly habitats. One of them locates a hole and dives into the water. He reaches an arm out into the mud and hoping for a fish to hook. The catfish is huge and suctions onto the arm and the person who wrestles it from the water. He is winning.
Noodling (also called hand fishing) is the process of catching fish using the soles of your hands. Noodlers search to find holes on the bottom of the lake and where cats are often seen to dig their holes in the mud and then reach to them hoping that they will catch a catfish and take it away. This is the most well-known activity in the southern states in which it is a favorite among families. It is an enjoyable summer sport however for some there are times when it could mean that the DNR might appear quicker than you could say “OMG! I found one!”
In August. 1, the practice of noodling has become legally permitted in Louisiana following the introduction of a local lawmaker who was interested in the game and decided to take part in the sport legally. It is also legal in Louisiana. Louisiana law also permits the bream to be caught using traps that trap minnows.
Conservation and Safety
The issue with noodling stems out of safety and conservation issues. Catfish wrestling is inherently hazardous in its own way often requiring the noodler to swim underwater in order to capture enormous fish. Fishmen could drown when noodling in water that is shallow.
Sometimes , the experience of fishing the catfish with a hand-held device could put the fish in shock, which can lead to deaths. When this happens the eggs of their victims could become destroyed, which could push the catfish population towards declining. As a result hand fishermen could take other fish, which are likely to be protected , leading to potential environmental and legal effects.
Noodle States and Regulations
Presently, the states where noodling is legal currently include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Noodling laws generally are identical across all states however, they can differ and you should review the state’s laws prior to noodling.
The rules that govern Noodling are:
- The season runs from the 1st of June and August. 31.
- The daily limit of time between sunset and sunrise.
- Catfish lengths should be between 20-30 inches (check the laws of your state for this).
- An interdiction of special equipment for coaxing the catfish into an appropriate hiding place.
- Noodlers must have the general fishing license. Certain states might require specific permit for noodling.
- Limit of catch: four daily fish.
- Catches should be done the traditional method, using a hand-held device without the use of any specific devices or bait.
- There are no breathing devices for underwater use.
The rules mentioned below are only guidelines to help you begin with, so be sure you check with your state’s natural resources department prior to taking the plunge into hand-fishing. Although noodle-doing is a great sport for a time with friends or relatives, it is important to practice with caution.
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