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Hand Fishing Catfish

Updated on May 20, 2016

Hand fishing (noodling) for catfish?

Hand fishing is the sport where you put your arm down into the water with the full intention of using your hand as bait to catch a catfish.

Also known as noodling this is a sport where you want the fish to bite you. You fish for catfish using only your wits and courage.

Noodling for catfish is a sport for survivalists, hillbillies, rednecks, and those folks who just plain old have a hankering to do something out and out right insanely different.

Are You Nuts?

You want to do what?

What exactly is hand fishing for catfish?

It seems that some folks on this pretty little planet have some exceptionally strange ideas and they put them to good use whenever they can. Hand fishing for catfish is one of these gosh awful silly ideas that some fool thought would be fun.

This form of fishing goes by quite a few different names but hand fishing and noodling are two of the most common. It all means the same thing, a catfish is hopefully gonna get caught, and somebody is probably gonna get a few battle scars doing it.

In noodling for catfish there are no hooks, no net, and absolutely no need for a fishing pole. All you need to hand fish for catfish is courage, strength, and a right good dose of stupidity. (A prayer or two to help keep you safe from harm can come in pretty darn handy too.)

The basic plan of action in noodling catfish is to find a nice dark underwater spot where a catfish might hole up. You then you stick your hand in there, the catfish instinctively bites you, and you latch on and haul that bugger outta there. Call it getting back to basics and fighting a fair battle between man and fish by going fist to fin in a battle of the brawn. I have my own words for this sport but I think I'll just let you guess what they might be (hint: scroll to bottom of page for the answer).

A Cat Fishy Theme Ornament? Well Kind of...

December Diamonds Amazing Rhinestone Studded Lion Fish Ornament with "Real" Whiskers & Embellished with Clear Rhinestones...Will Sparkle on Your Tree!!!...
December Diamonds Amazing Rhinestone Studded Lion Fish Ornament with "Real" Whiskers & Embellished with Clear Rhinestones...Will Sparkle on Your Tree!!!...

There are just some things in life that make it worth living and a heck of a good fishing trip is it. Here kitty kitty. Even a darn fool can figure out what tastes absolutely delicious spring, summer, fall, or Christmas. So go on and show your catfish pride.


They call it a catfish cause it has whiskers.

Dangers of hand fishing (noodling) catfish:

Now why on God's green earth any dang fool would want to stick his hand down into a dark underwater hole and hope to get bit by a fish is beyond me. The main flaw to hand fishing or noodling is that poisonous snakes, snapping turtles, and a few other not so nice critters also like to hide out in these dark holes. Which means that you will never really know quite what is going to bite you until after it does.

There are quite a few dangers associated with hand fishing for catfish and getting bit by a poisonous snake is just one. Noodlers can get cut up pretty good when they put their hand in the mouth of a catfish. Catfish do not have typical fish teeth but don't think that their itsy bitsy teeth can't hurt you if you stick your hand in there.

Catfish teeth are tiny, and meant for grasping prey, rather than biting or chomping on it. These small teeth slant backwards in the jaw, so if prey is caught, it cannot easily escape (It's hooked so to speak). This design works well for the catfish. Their mouth is large enough that if they get prey in there then they can generally hang onto it, and choke it down without a need to chew their food first. So how can a catfish bite hurt a guy?

A catfish's teeth are so tiny that they feel like the grit on sandpaper, but because the teeth slant backwards, they can hold onto you pretty good. The next thing that happens is that the catfish goes into battle mode, and starts to spin, and when a catfish goes into a spin those tiny grains of teeth can rip you up pretty good. So if you do plan to hand fish for catfish be prepared for a few battle scars.

Do you love your catfish?

See results

Catfish like to hide in dark little underwater holes.

Catfish mailbox?

River's Edge Catfish Mailbox with Tamper Proof Mounting Hardware
River's Edge Catfish Mailbox with Tamper Proof Mounting Hardware

I guess it says a lot about your personality when even your mailman has to stick his hand into a catfish's mouth. Now that is taking noodling to extreme measures.


Getting finned by a catfish:

When you are noodling catfish there is one specific area of this fish that is the most likely to cause you bodily damage. It is the catfish fins that you really do have to take care around when you are hand fishing.

A catfish's best method of defense comes in the design of it's dorsal and pectoral fins. These fins are damn sharp, they generally have a spiny texture, and they can fillet you like a fine seafood dinner. It's called getting finned by a catfish and it is something that you do not want to do.

To add insult to injury these spines may also contain venom. Now you just know that venom from any critter is going to cause you more than few problems. Venom is generally a toxic substance meant to poison you and the venom from catfish fins can indeed get nasty.

Once you are done dealing with the venom then you can also start to worry about infection setting in to your numerous battle wounds. Let's face the facts, you really are not playing in the most sanitary of areas, and there is bound to be some sort of nasty stuff looking to get into those fresh cuts and gouges that you have so recently acquired while you were fooling around trying to catch that dang catfish.

These are the risks you encounter when you take up the sport of hand fishing. These of course are just a few of the dangers involved with noodling for catfish. I'm sure you'll discover a few others.


Hand fishing catfish is definitely exciting, but it can also be painful, and it can be downright dangerous.

Noodling is a sport that you should check out very carefully before you decide to participate in it.

Watch this video to see how to hand fish for catfish.

Other names for hand fishing catfish: - Depending on which side of the "Crick" you are from.

  1. Noodling
  2. Catfisting
  3. Grabbing
  4. Graveling
  5. Hogging
  6. Stumping
  7. Gurgling
  8. TIckling
  9. Dogging

Have I Ever Been Noodling? Heck no.

I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I am certainly not that naïve, I happen to like my body parts kept intact.

I'll leave the fine sport of hand fishing for catfish up to the folks who spell fun with a capital D for Dangerous.

On my outdoor trips you will find me sitting by the campfire. Yep, I'll probably have a Budweiser in one hand, and my Kindle Fire that I won on Zujava in the other (Thank you Zujava for that wonderful prize win).

I'll come back from a fishing trip relaxed, and ready to take on the world, while you on the other hand will probably be desperately searching for bandages for the next week or two.


Pretty Darn Stupid

It's for those with a taste for the unusual.

Cat fish
Cat fish

Why are mosquitoes attracted to some people more than others?

Do you know why these individuals are more attractive to mosquitoes?

A mosquito may like you more than someone else because the mosquito is actually able to find some people easier than they can other people....Why are mosquitoes attracted to some people more than others?

Do you know someone who has gone noodling for catfish?

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I caught a catfish (not by hand) when I was 5 years old, with my grandfather. First fish I ever caught. He cooked it up and gave me some. It tasted horrible. I've never liked fish, but know how to catch them because of my grandfather.

    • vineliner57 profile image

      Hal Gall 

      4 years ago from Bloomington, IN

      If you go to YouTube and search for "Girls Gone Grabblin", you can find some good videos. As for me, I prefer catfishing from the shoreline...

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I don't but then again I never knew it was called noodling either!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      5 years ago

      Well, this is pretty amazing. Funny too. I hope it really does not deplete the catfish population because those are some nice fish. Somehow though I have the feeling that there are more fish around than men silly enough to put their hands in the water. Dude!

    • TransplantedSoul profile image


      5 years ago

      A really game of chicken ... errrr fish I mean.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      5 years ago

      I didn't know that catfish can be catch by hand, so for me, this is new!.

    • WhiteOak50 profile image


      5 years ago

      As crazy as it sounds, I love to watch noodlers on TV. There is not a chance in this world I would personally want to do it because I hate snakes. A lot of snakes hide in those black holes, can you imagine finding one like that that? No Way!! You covered a lot of information on Noodlers, good work.

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      5 years ago

      The old fellows out here used to call it tickling. No way I'd ever try it, thank you!

    • Commandrix profile image


      5 years ago from Benson, IL

      Sounds interesting. I've seen it done but I don't know anybody who really does it on a regular basis.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am a noodling guide in TN and I can assure you that this sport is very exhilerating and one of the most fun activities on earth. It is also not nearly as dangerous as some would portray it if you have the right guide to show you! If anyone is interested google big tennessee catfish and you will find a tour and experience for the ages!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Nope, nobody I know is that crazy, but you gots to give 'em credit for being good at something!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I've never heard of this before, but why not? I wouldn't do it though. Nice lens.

    • Netlexis LM profile image

      Netlexis LM 

      6 years ago

      My husband mentioned noodling to me the other day and I thought it was a little weird. I guess there's something for everyone. Good lens.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Had to shout this on FB....others must see this!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I just had to scroll down to see what you name for noodling is and had to read the rest with laughter...thank you, and I agree with you but can see what going fist to fin could be a challenge after a few beers helping one along. The trophy would be the battle scars that are part of this package and not for the faint of heart, a little more beer can bring a little more courage. I don't think I could ever do it after seeing the guy in the video pull his arm out of the water with a huge catfish up to his elbow and his fist through the gills, OMG, I didn't realize how big catfish get....and then there's the opportunity to get finned by one for more stories to tell....there isn't enough beer in the world to get me to do anything like this!

    • youthministry profile image

      Paul Turner 

      6 years ago from Birmingham, Al.

      I lived the different names for hand fishing. Fun lens and I learned something new. Great job.

    • Aster56 profile image


      6 years ago

      It is fun watching the video but no heart to try it out. Nice information on noodling.

    • kristalulabelle profile image


      6 years ago from Wisconsin

      I have heard of noodling before but I've never known anyone who has done it. I'd be too afraid of finding a snake or snapping turtle...but hey, it takes all kinds to make the world go 'round, right? Fantastic lens, I really enjoyed the read!

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 

      6 years ago from Texas

      I have friends in Oklahoma who noodle regularly. Fun to watch, but I have no intention of participating. Fun article!

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Wow, this one zoomed straight to the top, even a purple star!

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image


      6 years ago

      The notion of noodling is one of the few things on earth that makes me feel like a sissy. I'd have to be might hungry!

    • Keith J Winter profile image

      Keith Winter 

      6 years ago from Spain

      Great Lens. Recently I've been watching a TV programme on Discovery channel where people are invited to catch catfish with their bare hands. It's not something I would want to do!!

    • markadamdouglass profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a very weird idea... and I am way too scared to try it!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love catfish. I have watched every show on Catfish noodling on TV and loved it. Great lens.

    • Tom Maybrier profile image

      Tom Maybrier 

      6 years ago

      My cousins know how to do this! I've always wanted to try it!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      6 years ago from USA

      Glad to see you don't do this. You're too much a lady :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Ah, since it is catfish and you are noodling ... would that possible be canoodling?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Never tried it. To tell you the truth, I was always a little chicken. Know people who have though.

    • profile image

      NC Shepherd 

      6 years ago

      I know people who have talked about noodling, but I don't know if they ever got around to doing it. It sounds like a dumb thing to do, if you ask me...and even if you don't ask me.

    • lclchors profile image


      6 years ago

      I love to eat catfish but I will let the noodling to someone else

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I probably do in fact know quite a few (relatives) who have gone noodling. Your name could be my names, but I don't know who they are. So, that seems so stupid! Great lens. Congrats to a fellow one of our weirdest!!

    • bearlane profile image


      6 years ago

      very good lens, will have to try gurgling someday! ;P

    • xXOUTDOORSXx profile image


      6 years ago

      nothing like noodling!

    • JoleneBelmain profile image


      6 years ago

      I have never tried cash fish, or cat fishing for that matter, but I can't see myself sticking my hand into a dark place to have something latch onto it lol... I've watched people do it on TV, I think I'll stick to that lol.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 

      6 years ago from Connecticut

      I love to fish with a rod & reel, but feeling around the bottom of a pond to grab a catfish is not for me!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      6 years ago from Iowa

      I've watched people do this on tv shows and I'm pretty sure I'm not brave enough (or crazy enough) to ever do this. Amazing to watch though.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I can't say that I'm aware of anyone who does this - not sure I'd have the agility to snatch 'em up! Fun lens - blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      I am not sure about doing this but it sure was fun reading about it! SquidAngel blessings.

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I heard of tickling trout, but that is skillful rather than dangerous. ><)))*

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 

      6 years ago

      I've never heard of noodling before and I don't think I know anyone crazy enough to do it.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Nope! Something is smelling fishy about the whole idea! :)

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      No, but have been stung by catfish many times after catching them with a normal fishing pole. I love it! Blessed!


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