If you’ve ever heard about noodling for catfish, you might wonder what might possess someone to stick their hand into a dark hole and hope something latches on.
Even though noodling might seem scary at first, it can be fun like you’ve never experienced when you #putahandN1!
We’ll talk more about how you do it later on in the article… But first, some photos of some flathead catfish caught while noodling…
If you want to see pure outdoor joy, watch these catfish noodling videos below of our friends, Andrew Urban and Luke-Avery Urban and “Aly from Alabama” as they noodle some huge catfish! The videos below will make you smile… we promise!
CHECK OUT AWESOME CATFISH NOODLING VIDEOS BELOW… HUGE CATFISH CAUGHT WITH BARE HANDS!
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 and how to try it yourself!
Catfish noodling joy
(Andrew’s Catfish Noodling video transcript below)
Shake it boy! Look at that. That’s a big boy. Hold him above your head if you can. That is a nice cat!”
“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!
MORE NOODLING VIDEOS BELOW THAT YOU WONT BELIEVE…
Another Monster Catfish Noodling Video Moment
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)
“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?”
“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.”
“I love noodling because there isn’t anything that can prepare you for it. Every aspect of noodling is based on your ability to conquer your own fears — you can’t prepare yourself and you can’t practice. There is a level of surprise that is untouched in any other sport or hobby, and the adrenaline rush is absolutely incredible.”
Aly “Aly from Alabama” Schreiber
“Noodling challenges me every time and the feeling of conquering fear is absolutely addicting!”
“There’s just something about the adrenaline rush of going into a hole blind, but expecting to get bit every time! That’s what I noticed the first time I tried it a 12 years old! From the first bite of a little 3 lb blue cat, I was hooked on that adrenaline rush! It’s become something of a passion for me, not just a hobby at this point! Couldn’t really see myself going back to not doing it at this point!”
“It’s just the adrenaline you get from getting on a big fish, and the experience of having fun while doing it. But it all comes down to putting a hand N1 and that’s what I love the most!”
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) or hogging, and some call it noodling. We weren’t sure what the buzz was all about, but we were fascinated to find out what it was like to get bit.
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 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 Noodling story
– By Charles Farmer
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!
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.)
People interested in managing their land for wildlife are continually seeking better and more efficient ways to improve the habitat so it can support more and healthier animals, particularly deer. As is so often the case, nature has already figured out the best ways – sometimes it just takes us a while to recognize them.
Let me give you an example.
Hardwoods: Then And Now
Deer hunters head to the woods for many reasons, not the least of which is escape. And most of us, at one time or another, have lamented that perhaps we were born a century or two too late. As we slip through the local woodlot, which is little more than a vestige of days gone by, we wonder what it must have been like before men and metal changed the landscape.
The first Europeans that set foot in the New World, and those that followed for several centuries found a forest that, rather than being patchily distributed on the landscape, stretched on unending for miles. Canopy openings that allowed sunlight to reach the forest floor nurturing small glades were sparse, and usually caused by natural events.
The understory beneath ancient towering hardwoods was much more open as less sunlight could reach the forest floor during growing season. But the biggest difference might well be what covered the ground after the growing season ceased. Rather than the carpet of acorns we’re now accustomed to seeing in the fall, the forest floor of 120 years ago would have been littered with green pods that more resemble some spiny sea creature or alien spawn than the fruit of a plant. Inside each, one would find several chocolate-hued nuts.
Chestnut Trees – King of the Forest
Prior to the turn of the previous century, and for millennia before, American chestnuts (Castanea dentata) dominated the eastern hardwood forests of North America, growing 12 stories tall and wide enough that two men could not reach around their base and touch fingers.
The nuts they dropped in
voluminous quantities were a vital food source for countless wildlife species,
and later for humans, who could shovel up bushel baskets full of them in short
Yet in the geologic blink of an
eye (roughly 30 years) they were effectively wiped out by a blight.
Oaks ultimately filled the empty ecological niche once occupied by chestnuts, dominating the overstory and providing an abundant source of hard mast.
A 20-year-old chestnut can produce as much as 20 pounds of mast per year. On a per acre basis, that’s as many carbohydrates as corn, but without all the labor and expense of replanting every year.
Research has even shown that whitetails prefer acorns over just about any other widely occurring natural food. The deer don’t know the difference, but as you’ll soon learn, this stand-in source of mast doesn’t quite stand up to their forerunners. Fortunately, like healthy seedlings of the once mighty chestnut, hope springs eternal.
Back to the Future
In the early 1950s, James Carpentar discovered a large and very healthy American chestnut in Ohio that appeared to be blight resistant. He sent budwood to Dr. Robert T. Dunstan, a well-known plant breeder in North Carolina, who began grafting and later cross-pollinating American grafts with a mixture USDA-released Chinese chestnut selections.
Are acorns really a whitetail deer’s favorite? Keep reading!
After selecting individuals with the best hybrid characteristics, Dr. Dunstan crossed them back to both the American and Chinese parent trees, creating the Dunstan chestnut, a breed with the optimal combination of blight resistance and production of large, high quality nuts.
The business started largely as a commercial chestnut orchard.
“Until fairly recently, most of the millions of dollars worth of chestnuts sold each year were imported because there were no commercial orchards in the U.S.,” said Iain’s father, Robert Wallace.
And like any start-up, they encountered their share of obstacles.
“We had deer in our orchard every night during harvest season,” he said.
He further elaborated that one of his biggest problems for commercial orchardists is deer eating the nuts before they can be collected. However, the elder Wallace quickly recognized it not as a problem, but an opportunity.
Trying to compete with the mighty oak might seem a particularly risky business venture, until you learn about the chestnut’s nutritional superiority. They contain 4 times the carbohydrates of a white oak acorn; possess 2.5 times the protein and only a fraction of the fat found in acorns.
Chestnuts also have less tannins, making them a much sweeter, and thus more palatable (no-one ever wrote songs about acorns roasting on an open fire). And though chestnuts have not been present on the land for more than 100 years, the ability to instantly recognize their nutritional superiority and palatability is still permanently encoded into the deer’s DNA. They know a good thing when they smell, and taste it.
There are other advantages chestnuts hold over other mast trees that might be of particular interest to those looking to plant wildlife mast orchards.
Chestnut trees grow faster and bigger, sometimes bearing in two to five years, where a white oak might not bear for 20 years. Eventually, chestnuts can grow a dozen stories tall, becoming prolific producers of the caloric carbs wildlife like deer are so dependent on for their winter survival. They also lack the boom and bust cycles more common to oaks, and their blooms come out later in the spring so they are far less susceptible to broad scale mast crop failures caused by late freezes.
Why Plant Trees For Deer?
Before we go further we should probably back up momentarily as some readers are probably wondering why you would plant trees instead of just building food plots like everybody else. Regardless of what you plant, your goal should be not just to attract animals like deer during a particular part of the year (hunting season), but to hold them there as close to year-round as possible. Why? Because the more time they spend on your property, the more comfortable and habituated they become. And the best way to do that is by providing the optimal year-round habitat, the components of which include food, cover and water.
Building and maintaining food plots with annual or perennial herbaceous crops is a very popular way to increase available nutrition for wildlife, but can result in nutritional gaps during certain parts of the year. It can also be costly and labor intensive, particularly with annual crops that must be planted every year.
Your property will be far more attractive to, and beneficial for wildlife if you can strive to keep fresh food sources available for as long as possible throughout the year. Mast orchards represent an alternative or complement to your food plots, and after the initial investment and establishment, will provide increasingly more food indefinitely, and with a great deal less cost and effort compared to food plots or even feeders. They also provide a means for landowners to fill potential nutritional gaps, ensuring there is plenty of the right food throughout the year.
As previously noted, chestnuts offer several advantages over other hard mast sources by growing faster and larger, bearing fruit at a younger age and providing a more nutritious nut. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plant other species, like varieties of red and white oak. Variety is the spice of wildlife, and the more you provide in the way of food, the more attractive and productive your land will be. But don’t stop there.
All too often, landowner’s focus on fall foods and forget about the rest of the year. As previously alluded to, the more deer and other species are present on your property in the spring, summer and winter, the more likely they’ll be there in the fall. Visitors become residents as feeding areas become home ranges, and home ranges become core areas. And it shouldn’t be just about deer either.
Provide Well-Rounded Nutrition
You can further fill the void with species like grapes, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, at the same time attracting a broader spectrum of upland game and game bird species, not to mention non-game animals.
Again, you improve the habit quality over a wider time span by providing greater variety of soft and hard mast plant species, particularly those that help fill gaps in the nutritional calendar.
For example, plums provide fruit as early as May and June in southern regions, and a little later further north. Pears, which ripen from mid to late July through August, depending on variety and location, can fill the next gap as herbaceous plants mature and lose palatability but hard mast has yet to fall.
Which Trees Should You Plant?
Next on the nutritional calendar come things like apples and persimmons, the latter of which come in early-drop and late-drop varieties and are an incredibly powerful deer attractant, particularly during ear to mid-autumn archery seasons. By then, hard mast should start dropping and, if you’ve planted enough variety, will continue providing fall attractant and winter survival food at least through the end of the calendar year, and quite possibly through the winter.
Now that you have an idea of the types of mast-producers you’d like to plant, you need to select a variety of species from each group.
Chestnut Hill Outdoors offers an array of both soft and hard mast producers in several different size containers. Furthermore, they will help you select the optimal varieties for your specific site conditions, including landscape level variables like plant hardiness zones and regional climate as well as local variables like slope, aspect and soil type and moisture regimes. And they don’t stop there. In order to ensure you receive the maximum benefit from their products, the Chestnut Hill Outdoors staff also provide sound advice and instruction on proper site selection, planting and care.
They even continue seeking more effective and efficient ways to get products to their customers. Planting larger, and thus older trees helps shorten the waiting period until your mast orchards produce fruit, but large trees can be expensive to ship. That’s why Chestnut Hill Outdoors teamed up with Walmart to provide a more convenient and economical distribution hub for larger trees. They now ship Dunstan Chestnuts and other mast orchard species to Walmart retail locations across the eastern U.S. And they are scheduled to arrive at the optimal time for planting in different regions.
When it comes to planting mast orchards for wildlife, about the only down side is that it will take a few years before you begin realizing the benefits of your investment.
The upside is that with little or no additional input from you, your initial investment will continue paying benefits indefinitely. Short of buying land, it’s one of the soundest long-term investments you can make for yours and future generations of people who appreciate and enjoy wildlife.
Many of us can still remember shooting our first rabbit or catching our first bluegill. I recall the feeling of sneaking under under a bridge to shoot a pigeon, as well as the time I accidentally hooked my grandpa’s ear while bass fishing.
These unforgettable memories motivate us to take the kids in our lives out on the lake or into the woods. As a fishing guide and bow tech, I have enjoyed guiding families and building bows for kids. But through the process, I have realized that we may be making some mistakes when it comes to what we are teaching kids about the outdoors.
But, could we be over-emphasizing success and rushing kids into hunting big game too early? Shouldn’t our focus be to build confident, determined kids that have an appreciation and maybe even a passion for the outdoors?
A Fixation With Success
Today, the most common approach for getting kids to love the outdoors seems to be ensuring success. By getting kids to catch a fish or harvest an animal, we hope they will feel that same rush of emotions that we have fallen in love with.
But, it’s the context surrounding that success that is so rewarding, not necessarily the result. The rush should come from the hours we have put in developing our craft and the time we have spent thinking about what it will be like to finally hold a big fish or a set of big antlers.
Recently I went bass fishing with my sister, her husband, and my nephews Jack and Collin. I let the boys cast the whole time, and eventually the lures were getting far enough from the boat that I thought we might not get skunked.
Jack turned to me and said, “I thought we were going to catch more.” I told him, “That’s fishing Jack. I’ve been on a lot of good fishing trips where I didn’t catch anything.” If we had caught fish after fish it would have been more exciting, but the boys likely wouldn’t have seen the bigger picture. Failing teaches lessons that I don’t believe success covers.
Which develops better skills: passing a rod to a kid with a fish already on the line, or letting them struggle to cast far enough for a few trips before finally catching a bluegill? Which option makes them think things should be handed to them and which one leads to self-confidence and a determination to succeed?
We don’t want kids to think our sports amount to just killing animals, the way it is often framed by antis. As a hunter, I experience success and failure depending on how well I prepare and perform (of course, a little luck doesn’t hurt!)
We should focus on having kids take part in the whole process and understand that success is anything but guaranteed.
Rushing Kids To Hunt Big Game Too Early
As a bow tech in Utah, I often meet parents wanting to increase the poundage on their kid’s bows to clear the threshold for mule deer hunting. But, what’s the rush to hunt big game?
What I loved about hunting when I was younger was getting away from teachers and parents telling me what to do. I loved the unforeseeable outcome of the hunt and the challenge to outwit the game.
Today, we escape bosses and spouses to hunt larger, more demanding species, but the feeling of freedom and solitude in the woods is the same. That’s what I want my nephews to experience. I want to give them the opportunity to overcome obstacles through hunting and come to have a better understanding of the outdoors and what it takes to succeed.
The species should meet a kid where they are at. I don’t believe an eight-year-old can reasonably piece together a deer hunt without quite a bit of hand holding. But they can run around the backyard shooting rabbits and squirrels. Those hunts give kids the maximum amount of responsibility and decision making power.
Additionally, if a young kid shoots a big buck, will he ever enjoy shooting pigeons under a bridge? If a kid catches a marlin, will she get excited about catching a ten-pound carp?
Taking small steps to bigger game and more challenging hunts allows kids to learn more about hunting as well as themselves. In my opinion, when a kid gets excited about a hunt, puts in effort, and overcomes obstacles, that’s a success.
It’s Really About The Moments
“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
– Henry David Thoreau
I once spent a few days guiding a father and his seventh-grade son fishing for salmon in Alaska. It was clear the kid wasn’t mature enough to comprehend that the trip represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most people. Instead, he fixated on catching one salmon and proving himself to his dad. Unfortunately, the dad didn’t do much to get away from that fixed mindset of success.
What happens when they return home and the kid doesn’t want to go catch bluegill in the quarry because he won’t receive the same praises as for a 40-pound king salmon? Does it really build a love of fishing, self discipline or humility to have a paid guide hold your hand throughout the process?
By comparison, that
same summer I guided a 70-year-old man and his 40-year-old son. When I stood in
the river with the son he would say, “I just really want my dad to catch
one.” And, when I walked over to his father at the other end of the bend
he would tell me, “I’m really glad to see he’s having a good time.”
These were two guys that understood it wasn’t the fish they were after. They
wanted each other to the enjoy experience and weren’t fixated on their own
So, don’t worry so much about success or big game. Focus on providing an example of dedication and respect for the outdoors. You either get bit by the bug or you don’t. Some kids are wired to love the sport and some are not. Fishing and hunting provide an opportunity to challenge kids and make them learn valuable lessons. It would be a shame to miss those opportunities by focusing too much on antlers and scales.