Catching fish is fun, but catching fish with your hands is a blast. Cheap and easy, here is all you need to know to start noodling.
Noodling is a very fast growing sport and is gaining popularity now that social media videos and pictures are being shared every day. The sport has gained many names over the years; noodling, hogging, hand-fishing, and stumping to name of few. Different names, but all the same rush and excitement.
The best thing about noodling is that it is cheap, fun, and you can get started today. Here are the few necessities that I bring along or need for every noodling trip.
1. Fishing License in a Ziploc Bag
You must have a fishing license on you and I keep mine in a bag to stay dry.
Bring a stringer along to tie to your belt so you can put the fish you catch on it until you're finished.
3. Old Jeans
Wear old jeans to protect your legs from rocks and stumps as you search for a fish.
4. Old Shoes
Wear an old pair of shoes to protect your feet from rocks or when you get bit.
5. Gloves (Optional)
Some people don't wear gloves so they can have better feeling, but I HIGHLY recommend it because the sand paper teeth of a catfish can do some damage when they get to thrashing. Thin rubber gloves with palm gripping work best. They aren't too bulky but still have enough protection.
It's always nice to bring a cooler along to put ice in and haul your catches back home.
Bring a towel to dry off before getting back in your vehicle to head home with a smile on your face and cooler full of fillets.
8. Hands and Feet
Now that you know what you need to bring on this trip, how are you going to catch these elusive catfish? Easy, with your hands right? Having strong hands and feet will help position yourself and get a hold of catfish when the time comes.
9. Hot Sunny Weather
Just like many things in the outdoors, there is a season that is better than most and will lead to more success. During the hot summer days when the water heats up, catfish will move up and head to holes to spawn.
10. Lake or River
Head to the lake or river and begin your search. Check any large tree stumps, hollowed out logs, large rocks, and under boat ramps. Anywhere there is a hole, it is possible for a catfish to move in and make a bed.
11. Brave Buddies
Make sure you bring a few friends for safety reasons, plus they can help when you get on a fish. Begin feeling around for the holes I mentioned above by sticking your hands and feet in them.
12. A Few Known Bedding Spots
Once you're in the holes, sometimes the fish will bite your extremities and sometimes you will feel them first. Either way, my best advice is to pull out and have you and your friends check for other exit holes to the bedding area/hole they are in. The fish is usually protecting eggs and wanting to hold its bedding spot so they won't always leave. After the exit holes are all blocked, go in for the catch.
13. Some Guts
In most cases you will just grab the fish by the mouth as it clamps down on your hands. With large fish, you can stick one hand down the mouth and the other threw the gill.
14. Kung Fu Grip
Grab whatever and wherever you can to secure the catch and hold on! Make sure you have a great grip as you bring it out of the water because that is when the real flopping will begin. We will usually stringer them up before bringing them out of the water just in case.
15. An Open Mind and an Eye for Beaver Dams
All you need is those items and a whole lot of bravery, and I promise you will be hooked. Be safe, give it a try, learn on the go, and most importantly have fun. It brings an adrenaline rush like nothing you have ever had before from fishing.
One last key piece of advice.....stay away from beaver dams.