Keep on Noodlin’

Do photographs show fisherman with giant catfish caught by 'noodling'?

Claim:   Photographs fisherman with giant catfish caught by ‘noodling.’

Status:   Real photographs; inaccurate description.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

I don’t know if you are familiar with “noodling”, but it is the term for the way Oklahoma guys catch their fish. These guys
wade out into the river and feel for holes or logs on the river floor. When they
find a catfish hole, they stick their hands in there wiggle their fingers, the
cats latch on and the ‘idiots’ pull out these monsters. Many people lose
their lives each year because of this. Some fish are so big they
literally pull the ‘idiot’ under. Snapping turtles and snakes claim their fair
share of rednecks too. Here are some pictures of what they come out with. Think
about these monsters the next time you order a catfish dinner!

Catfish Catfish

Catfish Catfish Catfish

Origins:   “Noodling” (also known as “hogging”) is indeed a real pastime pursued by some sportsman, a form of fishing in which the quarry (usually catfish) are caught not with rod and reel or with nets, but by hand. Enthusiasts plunge into waterways, pulling up fish directly from the water, scooping them up from along river banks, or hauling them out of hollow logs. According to a December 2004 Associated Press article, “So secretive are handfishers that they have formed a club called Noodlers Anonymous. A University of Missouri-Columbia professor who got the group’s cooperation in surveying its members found that most are men, average age about 40, living in rural areas.”

Although handfishing is perfectly legal in some states, others have passed or retained laws against it, due to the dangers of noodlers’ accidentally pulling up something harmful (like such as disgruntled snakes or snapping turtles) and because the hobby can threaten aquatic populations if handfishers remove too many sexually mature fish from their underwater nests. Nonetheless, in 2005 Missouri agreed to allow handfishing on an experimental basis, joining 11 other states in which handfishing is now lawful.

Although the photographs displayed above are indeed real pictures of fisherman with their catches of some very large catfish, they weren’t taken in Oklahoma (or any other American waterway). The catfish pictured in these photos appear to be some of the larger varities found in European and Asia waters, such as the Mekong giant catfish, which can weigh as much as 650 pounds and measure up to 10 feet in length. These images
were assembled from a variety of foreign angling resources, such as the albums at the Italian Carp Fishing web site, and the French Silurus Glanis (catfish angling) site.

Last updated:   9 January 2005


  Sources Sources:

    Charton, Scott.   “Legalizing ‘Noodling’: Missouri Approves Handfishing Experiment.”

    Associated Press   28 December 2004.

    Duzak, Warren.   “Odd Anglers Feed Their Fists to Giant Catfish.”

    The Tennessean.   4 June 1999.

    Roach, John.   “Big Trouble for Asia’s Giant Catfish.”

    National Geographic News.   15 May 2003.
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