Noodling for Catfish: An Adventurous Pursuit for Anglers

Credit: Noodling Trips on the Santee & Cooper Lakes in Moncks Corner, South Carolina

Noodling, also known as hand-grabbing or hogging, is a thrilling and unconventional method of fishing that has gained popularity among catfish enthusiasts. Instead of traditional fishing gear, noodling involves catching catfish with bare hands. This daring technique requires both skill and courage, making it an exhilarating adventure for anglers seeking a unique fishing experience. In this article, we will explore the art of noodling for catfish, including popular locations and the best times of the year to indulge in this adrenaline-pumping pursuit.

History of Noodling
Noodling can be traced back to the early days of fishing when ancient civilizations used this hands-on approach to catch fish. Today, it remains a favorite pastime for many fishing enthusiasts, particularly in certain regions of the United States. One of the most renowned areas for noodling is the southern region, particularly in states like Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. These states boast abundant catfish populations, making them ideal destinations for avid noodlers.

Credit: Guided Noodling Trip in Chandler, Texas

When to Noodle

The summer months are typically the prime time for noodling, as this is when catfish tend to be more active and receptive to hand-grabbing. From May through August, water temperatures rise, enticing catfish to search for breeding sites and suitable nesting spots. During this period, female catfish become protective of their nests, which they build in submerged logs, holes, or under riverbanks. Noodlers take advantage of this behavior by carefully approaching these nesting sites and coaxing the catfish into biting their hands.

Where to Noodle

When it comes to specific locations, Oklahoma stands out as one of the top noodling destinations. The state hosts various annual events and competitions centered around this unique fishing technique. One such event is the Okie Noodling Tournament held in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, drawing participants from across the country. Lake Texoma, the Red River, and the Arkansas River are also popular noodling spots in Oklahoma, known for their thriving catfish populations and ample opportunities for hand-grabbing.

Credit: Guided Noodling Trip in Chandler, Texas

Texas Noodling

Texas, too, offers abundant opportunities for noodling. Lakes such as Lake Livingston, Toledo Bend Reservoir, and Lake Ray Roberts are known for their impressive catfish sizes and make for excellent noodling grounds. Additionally, the Trinity River and the Brazos River provide prime noodling spots, attracting avid anglers seeking a challenging yet rewarding experience.

Louisiana Noodling

In Louisiana, noodling enthusiasts flock to the Atchafalaya Basin, a vast and diverse wetland that is home to an abundance of catfish. This labyrinth of swamps, bayous, and rivers offers an adventurous and picturesque setting for noodling. The Mississippi River and its various tributaries, such as the Red River and the Ouachita River, are also frequented by catfish hunters looking to put their hand-grabbing skills to the test.

Credit: Noodling Trips on the Santee & Cooper Lakes in Moncks Corner, South Carolina

Safety While Noodling

While noodling can be an exciting and adrenaline-filled activity, it is important to approach it with caution and respect for the environment. Noodlers should be mindful of local regulations and practice catch-and-release to preserve the catfish population and ensure the sustainability of the sport for future generations.

Noodling for catfish is an adventurous pursuit that offers a unique fishing experience for thrill-seeking anglers. With its origins rooted in ancient fishing traditions, noodling has become increasingly popular, particularly in the southern United States. Locations such as Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi are renowned for their catfish populations and offer excellent opportunities for hand-grabbing enthusiasts. The summer months, when catfish are actively nesting, are the prime time for noodling. So, if you’re up for a daring and unforgettable fishing adventure, grab your gear and head to one of these noodling hotspots for an experience like no other

Cameron Bissell is a first generation sportsman and Florida transplant from Massachusetts where he grew up chasing striped bass, errant redcoats and his wife. He’s an active member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and enjoys hunting, fishing, and when successful cooking. If he’s not in the woods or on the water near his home in Naples he can be found transporting one or all of his three kids between activities and the beaches. His outdoor aspirations include catching a yellow fin on spinning gear and hunting elk in Colorado. If he had his way every hunting license would come with a plaid shirt.