“I stuck my hand down in this hole and pulled out a giant catfish.”
If you’ve ever heard about noodling for catfish, you might wonder what in the world might possess someone to stick their hand into a dark hole and hope something latches on.
Or, maybe you’ve never even heard of noodling before now.
So, what exactly is “noodling?” Well, it’s basically catching a fish with your bare hands.
Some call it hand fishing. Some call it grabbling (or grabblin) or hogging, and of course, some call it noodling.
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…
So, Can I Go Noodling For Catfish In My State?
You may have watched these videos and read the stories on this page 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?”
If you live in one of the following 16 states, you may be ready to put a hand N1! (But, be sure to check your local game laws for legality and restrictions on noodling for catfish.)
You can click on your home state name below to find out what the catfish noodling laws are where you live. Also, be sure to watch the incredible noodling videos further down the page!
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
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!
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 below)
“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 FROM ALABAMA BELOW, NOODLE “A STINKY ONE…”
Aly From Alabama Noodles Big Blue Cat
(Aly From Alabama’s Catfish Noodling video transcript)
“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.”
So, How Can I Learn to Noodle A Catfish?
You’ve seen some incredible videos and pictures of people noodling. So, after watching and reading about it, do you want to learn to Put A Hand N1? Read below for a step-by-step noodling tutorial!
How to noodle for catfish:
- Safety First!
Always have at least one person in the water with you, spotting you, when you noodle for catfish. Noodling can sometimes require you to go under water and holding your breath. Don’t overestimate your ability to hold your breath. Also, catfish are extremely powerful fish, so be sure you don’t underestimate their strength. You may also want to wear gloves to protect your hands. They bite hard!
- Find where they’re hiding…
Check under boat ramps on holes in the bank. Some people also noodle in man-made boxes that have been submerged to attract catfish during the spawn. You can use a stick to probe in the holes. If there’s a catfish in the hole, it will often bite the stick with a distinct “thud.”
- Stick your hand in the hole
This can be the most unnerving part of noodling. Be sure to keep your 4 fingers together so you don’t break a finger unnecessarily (see picture below!) Slowly move your hand around in the hole and get ready to get bit!
- Grab it!
Once the catfish bites your hand try to close your hand, grabbing its lower jaw. Once you get a grip on it, try pulling it from the hole. Once you are able, slip your other hand up under the catfish’s gil plate (see picture below). This helps prevent the catfish from “rolling” and getting away. The roll is very powerful, so don’t neglect this step. On larger fish, you may want to wrap your legs around its tail to lock it up.
There’s nothing like the rush of noodling. You’ll be able to handle this step with no problem! And be sure to shout, “Put A Hand N1!”
What Do Other People Say About Noodling?
Check out some quotes below about catfish noodling from some people you may have seen on social media catching huge catfish with their bare hands!
“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!”Jess Bond
“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!”Nate Kennedy
“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!”Lane Allen
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?
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 Big Catfish 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 put a hand N1. 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!
Have fun, be safe, and put a hand N1!