The following is how my wife turned her pick-pocket skills into an East Tennessee fly fishing surprise and an N1 Moment for me.
Fly Fishing experience?
I had dabbled in fly fishing while in college, but I hadn’t done it in years and would still be considered very much a rookie fly fisherman.
Then, in 2013, while on a family vacation to Sevierville, Tennessee, my wife surprised me with a guided fly fishing trip. She had arranged for me to go on an all-day, smallmouth bass fishing float with Frontier Anglers TN.
Smallmouth bass fishing is fun. They are very aggressive fish and are a blast to catch. But, when you put a hook N1 with a fly rod, the experience goes to another level.
Frontier Anglers TN owner, Josh Pfeiffer, was my guide on this extremely hot July day. But, although the weather was sweltering hot, the fishing was hot as well.
Unfortunately, in addition to hooking several nice smallmouth, I also hooked Josh’s hat 3 consecutive casts (I told you I was a fly fishing rookie, remember?) Thank goodness for patient fishing guides.
I tucked that trip away in the unforgettable outdoor moments files, but didn’t fish the area again… until 2018. And, this trip was as much of a surprise as the last one!
East Tennessee Fly Fishing Surprise
It was Father’s Day, 2018. My wife and two daughters gave me a few gifts like they do every year. The last gift was an envelope. I opened it up, and inside was a gift certificate for… you guessed it, a fly fishing trip with Josh Pfeiffer. And while I was certainly excited about getting to go fly fishing again with Josh, there was more to the story…
About a month prior to receiving this gift, I thought it would be great to contact Josh and see if we could set up a time to do a little fly fishing and film some instructional fishing videos. Even after 5 years, I still had his business card in my wallet. So, I emailed him to see what he thought of my idea. He emailed me back and said he might be interested in working something out. But, I got sidetracked and never closed the deal.
My pick-pocket wife
My wife, who had no idea I had been communicating with Josh, thought that sending me fishing for the weekend would be a great Father’s Day idea. But, she couldn’t remember anything about who had taken me five years earlier. So what did she do? She went through my wallet, of course!
She found Josh’s business card and called him to book the trip. I later asked Josh if he thought it was strange that both my wife and myself were separately contacting him. He said he wasn’t really sure what to think, so he didn’t say anything to my wife. Smart man.
Fly Fishing with an old friend
So, a few weeks later, I was back on the water with Josh, five years removed from my last fly fishing trip with him. On this second trip, we fished for trout. And just like the previous trip, Josh’s knowledge of East Tennessee fly fishing didn’t disappoint. Over a two day span, I caught close to 30 rainbow trout. And while I love to put a hook N1, that was only part of what made the trip so special.
I wanted to go fly fishing again with Josh. My wife wanted me to go fly fishing with Josh. But, neither of us knew what the other was thinking. What resulted was a great surprise, a few laughs, and some great fishing.
I thought to myself, you know, this is what we always say at N1 Outdoors. It’s not the size of the fish or the wild game. It’s the unforgettable moments and memories that are made outdoors with friends and family. That’s what we love to celebrate. This trip was no different.
I’ll do some East Tennessee fly fishing again… and this time it will be a lot sooner than five years!
If you want to see pure outdoor joy, watch these catfish noodling videos of our friends, Andrew Urban and Luke-Avery Urban and “Aly from Alabama” as they noodle some huge catfish! These videos will make you smile… we promise!
After watching these, you’ll understand why we decided it was time for us to try noodling (be sure and read about that trip below!) You can also read about some other noodling adventures and learn about some other interesting names for noodling.
(Andrew’s Catfish Noodling video transcript)
Catfish noodling joy
I think we might get him. Got him! Holy crap! Look at that, son! Look at that! Whoo! That’s a cat daddy right there, boy!
Shake it boy! Look at that. That’s a big boy. Hold him above your head if you can. That is a nice cat!
In this noodling video, Andrew’s brother, Luke Avery-Urban, puts a hand N1! Check out this incredible catfish noodling video!
(Luke-Avery’s Catfish Noodling Moment video transcript)
Another Catfish Noodling Video Moment
Luke’s under there. He’s got a fish hitting. Let’s see what he’s got. Whoo! Yeah baby! Yeah baby! C’mon… c’mon. I got you. Who’s your daddy?
Watch our friend Aly noodle a huge blue cat below!
It’s a big, big fish. It’s a big blue, I think. Or, a good size flat. It bit me good. It’s got to be a blue.
I can’t get my hand in its gill. I wish you could feel this fish right now. Can’t tell what’s going on.
It just swallowed my whole hand! My whole hand is in its stomach. It’s starting to go crazy.
That’s big blue. I didn’t even think it was a blue. It swallowed my whole hand like that.
It stinks! She’s a stinky one.
What Is Noodling Anyway?
Watching catfish noodling videos like the ones above from the Urban brothers and Aly from Alabama made me want to put a hand N1 too! What was it about sticking your hand into dark holes where you couldn’t see anything and hoping something huge would bite your hand?
Some call it hand fishing. Some call it grabbling (or grabblin), and some call it noodling. We weren’t sure what the buzz was all about, but we were fascinated to find out.
So, we scheduled our first noodling trip with Luke-Avery Urban on Clarks Hill lake in Lincolton, Georgia.
But first, a limit out
Luke-Avery was generous enough to spend the whole day with us, teaching the N1 Outdoors audience how to fish for striped bass and hybrid bass. So, we spent the first part of the day striper fishing and it turned into a striper and hybrid limit!
Once we had limited out on striped bass and hybrid, we were off to some boat ramps that had produced some quality noodling trips over the years for Luke-Avery.
Spawning time is the optimal time for noodling catfish. We learned that water temperature is key in learning when the catfish spawn happens. The female lays her eggs in hollow logs, crevices or caverns under the bank, and in holes or openings under boat ramps, which is where we would be searching.
Once the female catfish lays her eggs, the male guards the nest fiercely until the hatch occurs. We found out that they will bite down hard on anything entering the nest!
Optimal water temperatures for blue catfish is 70-84 degrees, while some believe that 81 degrees is the magical temperature for blue cats. Most believe that the flathead catfish spawn an temperatures of 66-75 degrees. Whatever the perfect temperature is for each, we were able to experience both species in one outing!
Hurt at first bite
At our first stop, I got to experience what it feels like to get bit on the hand when trying to noodle a catfish for the first time. I learned quickly that it’s best to keep your fingers together when noodling. The first bite was actually on just my little finger. It sure didn’t feel very good! If you have never experienced how strong the mouth of a catfish is, noodling will help you understand!
Luke-Avery said he’s taken a lot of grown men noodling and most of the have yelled underwater the first time they get bit. I was determined to not do that. But, I will say I was certainly startled.
I tried multiple times to grab the catfish in that first hole and just could get a grip fast enough. Finally, Luke-Avery said to let him try. He stuck his hand into the hole and got bit as well. When he came up he said, “that’s a blue cat. They bite harder than a flathead catfish does.” (Flathead catfish are sometimes referred to as mud cats, yellow cats or shovelhead catfish.)
We left that hole and moved farther down the boat ramp. Eventually, we were both diving down in 10 feet of water checking other holes. Luke-Avery was able to pull out a nice blue cat.
My first catfish noodling success
When we left there, we went to another ramp where Luke-Avery had noodled some 40+ pound catfish in prior years. We got bit several times but were having trouble landing any cats. Finally, I was able to get a hand N1 and land my first flathead catfish! It was a rush for sure!
I found out that noodling was definitely worth all the hype and I can’t wait to put a hand N1 again!
Another Catfish Noodling story
Summer is upon us and in Southern Illinois, and that means it’s time for catfish to start spawning, which means noodling! Catfish swim up in holes under all sorts of things such as stumps, boat ramps, and rocks.
With noodling, the first thing you do is feel around with a stick in the hole because fish this big will be in holes 15, maybe 20 feet, back. We found a big flathead catfish under a boat ramp and we knew it was time to Noodle1. So, I went under the murky water and put my arm in the hole, waving it around inside there and… Bam, I got bit!
So, I grabbed its bottom jaw and ripped it out of the hole while putting my other hand under it. We ran a stringer in it to see how big it was once he broke the surface. It was a monstrous 40+ pounder! I’ll never forget the day I put a hand N1!
– By Charles Farmer
So, Can I Go Noodling For Catfish In My State?
You may have watched these videos and read these stories and said, “There’s no way I’m ever doing that!” But, you might love experiencing the thrill of catching a catfish with your bare hands and wonder, “Is noodling legal in my state?”
According to Wikipedia, as of 2002, noodling was legal in 12 states in the U.S.
If you live in one of the following 15 states, you may be ready to put a hand N1! (But, be sure to check your local game laws for legality and restrictions.)
We love providing you with great hunting and fishing content. In this N1 Minute video, learn how to tie the palomar knot. (The double palomar knot video is further down the page.)
(How to tie the palomar fishing knot video transcript)
Fishing Tip | How to tie the palomar knot
Learn a fishing knot that’s simple and strong. Stick with us for the N1 Outdoors N1 Minute.
Hey everyone. Today I’m going to show you how to tie the palomar knot. It’s my favorite fishing knot. It’s one I learned many years ago. And, I like it because it’s very strong and easy to tie.
Step 1. Thread the hook
Ok, we’re going to show you how to tie the palomar knot. We’re just using 10 lb. test mono line. Now, this knot works very well with braided lines, and I’ll show you why it’s a little easier with braided line in just a minute.
But, basically, we’re going to have to take this line and double it over… about eight inches or so. We need to get this end – the double end – through the eye of the hook. So, we’ll try to press down… now, this is where it gets a little tricky with mono. So, to get this through the eye of this hook, and you can tell it’s a little bit difficult to do that. Sometimes, you’ve actually got to crimp this line. That’s not a good thing for line strength, so, I’m going to show you another way in just a minute. But, we slip that through the eye of the hook… it should look like this.
Now, there’s another way we can do this without having to crimp that line. We can just take this line and thread it through the eye of the hook. Now, we’ll just take this line and thread it right back through the way we came. Like I said, about eight inches or so should do the trick. This is what it will look like. Now, we’ve kept from having to crimp the line. This is a much better option.
Step 2. Tie a simple overhand knot
Now, we’re just going to tie a simple overhand knot, like you’re going to start tying your shoes. Just a simple overhand knot. It’s going to look just like this.
Step 3. Drop the hook through the loop
Before you cinch that knot all the way tight, you want to take this hook and drop it through the loop right here. So we’re going to take it and drop it through the loop. We’re going to begin to pull both ends of the line tight.
Now, sometimes when you begin to pull this knot, this loop is going to try to get stuck under the eyelet of the hook. You just need to make sure it gets over the top of the hook before you pull tight.
Step 4. Pull tightly and trim
We’re going to take the ends and pull tightly.
I’m going to take my clips and snip the tag end here, just to give you and idea of what it looks like. That’s what it’s going to look like when you’re finished. It’s a very, very strong knot. You can also moisten this before you pull tight. It reduces the friction and helps the knot cinch down tighter.
My Dad, when I was a kid… one of the first knots he showed me was the clinch knot. I used that for years. And then I came across the palomar knot. It’s the go-to knot for me. It’s very strong and it’s very easy to tie. And, hopefully, this is a knot you can use when you fish. And, we hope you put a hook N1.
(How to tie the double palomar knot video transcript)
How to tie the double palomar knot
Hey everyone. You may have joined us earlier for the instructional video on how to tie the palomar knot.
In this video, we’re going to show you how to tie the double palomar knot. It’s great for braided line and for when you’re fishing heavy, thick cover. It’s just extremely strong and it’s only one extra step from the standard palomar knot.
Step 1. Thread the eye of the lure
In this example, we’re going to use an actual lure. It’s a little bit easier to see the eye of the lure, as opposed to the smaller eye of a hook. So, we’re going to use this and just like with the standard palomar knot, we’re going to pass our line through the eye. And, then we’re going to take the end of this line and go back through the eye of the hook like this.
Step 2. Tie an overhand knot with two passes
And, tie a standard overhand knot, just like we did with the palomar knot, except when we do that this time, we’re going to actually make two loops through here. Through this loop, we’re going to go one loop, two loops. A standard overhand knot… two passes.
Step 3. Drop the lure through the loop
Pull it down a little bit so that your loop end is large enough for the lure to go through. And, then we’re going to take the lure and just drop it through the loop.
Step 4. Pull tightly and trim
At this point, it’s great if you can moisten that knot. It will pull tighter a lot easier. You’ll pull on both ends and then each end individually. Just pull tightly, and you see, that’s what we have. Now we’ll take our snips and clip that tag end. And there you have an extremely strong, double palomar knot.
Thanks for joining us. If you’d like to see other hunting and fishing tips videos, simply visit N1outdoors.com and click on the videos section and the whole library is there. Thanks for watching. We hope you enjoyed this double palomar knot illustration.