July 5, 2003

Noodling – of the Fishing Kind.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 3:44 pm

One of the greatest things about living is that, if you keep your eyes and ears open, you truly can learn something new every day.

Last night, having been intrigued by the curious title of the documentary “Okie Noodling,” I tuned in towards the end of the film. I have always used the term “noodling” to describe something akin to surfing the Internet. I doubted that something so mundane would have piqued the interest of a documentary filmmaker. And, I wondered why “Oakie” noodling? (I believe that this refers to the documentary I watched.)

I soon learned that the “noodling” that was the subject of the documentary had nothing to do with computers or “noodles,” of the pasta kind.

Noodling is the art/sport/activity, practiced in a handful of southern states, which involves hopping out of a boat in pretty nasty looking water to catch catfish with one’s hands. Not being a fisherman, I watched a bit, imagining that in a minute or two one of these guys (they noodle in teams) would pop out of the water with a catfish, maybe a foot long, wriggling in his hands. WRONG!

One of the noodlers dragged a fish out of the water that required three men to toss into the nearby boat. It must have exceeded 100 pounds. I have since done a little reading on the subject here, and here, and I learned that the technique of noodling is to try to get one of these monster fish trapped in an underwater hole and to hope that he/she takes a shot at biting the noodler’s hand, at which point, the noodler blocks all avenues of escape and tries to grab the fish by the side of the mouth (to avoid the multiple sand papery-like teeth that fill the fish’s mouth) and the gills. A miss could mean that the fish grabs the noodler by the hand or arm and either causes a nasty injury or, in the worst case, prevents the noodler from breaking the surface thereby drowning the noodler. A few people die each year noodling.

To see a photo of the size of the fish that noodlers drag by hand out of the water, click here.

Absolutely amazing.

As for me, I think I will restrict my noodling to the computer.

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