Noodling: Hands on Fishing

Catching big cats by hand. Image: http://archive.gosanangelo.com/

Catching big cats by hand. Image: http://archive.gosanangelo.com/

This is Passport to Texas

Hand fishing, commonly called noodling, became legal in Texas in 2011.

What they do is they find holes that are typically on the bank, or in structure timber, what have you. And, fishermen will search around in the water blindly, feeling in holes until they find these fish, and then they’ll pull them out with their hands.

Fisheries biologist Kris Bodine says far from being a fringe activity, this technique is quite old.

Before we had fishing poles, it was a way folks fished. They were just grabbing fish for food.

Hand fishers are more efficient at catching trophy-sized fish using this technique.

Big fish of any species—I don’t care whether it’s catfish, or bass or what have you—they’re hard to find. And, so, this particular technique has offered folks a chance to catch more big fish than they would at any other time, because they’re really concentrated in these areas.

What impact does removing so many big fish have on the overall catfish population?

There’s a perception among anglers and among fisheries biologists that high harvest of trophy fish is majorly detrimental to the catfish population.

Researchers conducted a study of hand fishers, with eye-opening results. Details tomorrow.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series and is funded by your purchase of fishing equipment and motorboat fuel.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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