Is Noodling Catfish Dangerous? Explaining The Dangers Simply

Catfish noodling is the act of putting your hand underwater, sticking your arm in a catfish’s mouth, and pulling it out of the water with your hands. Your fingers are used as a form of bait. The term “noodling” was coined because of the act of wriggling one’s fingers, like noodles, to catch catfish.

Is noodling catfish dangerous? Noodling catfish is dangerous for both the angler and the catfish. Catfish are aggressive and when their lives are threatened, they will fight back, which will put a noodler in danger. It’s just as dangerous for the catfish because it harms their ecosystem.

Catfish noodling is a controversial act that many anglers and people are divided on. It’s a tradition that can be dangerous for many, but counts as a sport to others. Continue reading to find out more.

Is Noodling Catfish Dangerous?

Catfish noodling can be dangerous for both noodlers and catfish. Being careful and experienced are two important factors to consider when it comes to noodling. Many beginner anglers have wondered why catfish noodling is so dangerous.

Catfish are known to be larger types of fish. When noodling, anglers have to consider the size of the fish.

There are many reasons why catfish noodling is dangerous, and it doesn’t all have to do with the catfish. Anglers also worry about what else might be lurking at the bottom of the water. 

Does Noodling Hurt the Fish?

Noodling hurts catfish. It hurts them physically, and it also damages their ecosystem. For example, when hand-fishers are shoving their arms aggressively into a catfish’s mouth, that could break the catfish’s spine and could also cause them to bleed.

It also poses a danger to the catfish’s gills, since many anglers are not careful when grabbing catfish. This could ruin their only breathing tunnel and could lead to the catfish’s death. Not only that, but it can also hurt the population of catfish, which we will discuss later. 

Does Noodling Hurt the Ecosystem?

Research shows that noodling severely harms catfish ecosystems. Since hand-fishers usually go for spawning catfish, which are quite vulnerable during that time, they cause damage to the ecosystem. Anglers usually noodle for catfish during warmer weather. This is the best time for spawning catfish.

When noodlers take catfish away from their nests, their eggs die quickly after. Their eggs are left to fend for themselves without the right amount of protection and nutrients they would have gotten from their parent catfish. It works differently for people who use a rod and a reel.

Even if the noodlers do decide to put the catfish back in its nest, it could be too late for their eggs. Since the act of noodling can be quite aggressive, it could cause harm to the catfish eggs regardless.

Pulling down and grabbing a catfish forces plenty of power on the surrounding area, which could lead to their eggs’ death.

The more people noodle for catfish, the more harm it does to their ecosystems. The abundance of catfish slowly decreases each time they are noodled. This gives less opportunity for anglers to fish for them the old-fashioned way.

Can You Get Hurt from Catfish Noodling?

You can definitely get hurt from noodling catfish. There are many reasons why hand-fishing can be dangerous for anglers. This style of fishing does not require many tools if any. Anglers come in direct contact with the fish during this dangerous act. 

As stated before, catfish are a particularly strong and aggressive type of fish. When hand-fishing, if you do not have a good grip on them, they will have the strength to pull you down the water. This could cause you to have some broken ribs or even drown.

Catfish have sharp sandpaper-like teeth, so even if you have a good grip on them, noodling can get very dangerous. When threatened, catfish tend to bite harder and when your arms are shoved far down inside their mouths, they will not hesitate to gnaw on them.

They will also spin their heads when your arm is deep inside their mouths, which would cause them to tear off your skin. Wearing gloves could protect your arms sometimes, but it presents a new danger. A catfish’s teeth could get stuck on your glove, which gives it the ability to drag you down underwater.

I recommend the gloves from BIG WORM FISHING. They are super affordable, and for the price, there really aren’t any better-made gloves out there.

A new study shows that there are at least 1,250 species of poisonous catfish. This is particularly dangerous for people who do not know where these catfish usually live. These types of catfish use their venom as protection against people who hand-fish them. 

This poison causes people to have severe pain, muscle spasms, reduced blood flow, and respiratory problems. It can also break down a person’s red blood cells. Catfish will do anything in their power to protect themselves against people who try to noodle them. Check out this guide for more information on how to safely handle Catfish.

Is Catfish Noodling Illegal?

Catfish noodling is illegal in some states because it affects their ecosystems, and it counts as stealing the fish from their natural habitats. This causes the catfish population to decrease dramatically. 

Another reason noodling is illegal is because it is a dangerous act. Many reported deaths have been caused by catfish noodling. So, for the safety of anglers, some states took it upon themselves to ban noodling entirely. 

Some anglers also tend to catch the wrong types of fish while noodling, which also hurts their populations. To protect other species of fish, as well as catfish, some states have disallowed this practice due to that reason alone.

Where Is Catfish Noodling Legal?

There are some states where catfish noodling is legal, such as Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Texas. However, some rules apply to some of these states when it comes to noodling for catfish.

For example, in Mississippi and Texas, catfish noodling is only allowed from June 1st till August 31st. The size of catfish hand-fished in Mississippi has to be 30 inches and in Texas, the size of catfish has to be at least 24 inches. Both must be caught in a legal fishing area.

Is Catfish Noodling Ethical?

The morality of catfish noodling is always up for debate among people and anglers. Some people view this activity as a hobby and tradition, while others deem it cruel and harmful for both people and catfish.

Catfish noodling has been around for as long as people knew how to swim, some people are very stuck on that tradition and believe that catfish noodling is ethical and only view it as a sport that they practice.

On the other hand, some people believe that the reason why catfish noodling is unethical is because of the danger that it presents to the catfish as well as humans, as mentioned above. Many anglers also dislike the lack of abundance of catfish as a result of noodling and would rather fish for them.

Related Questions

Is Catfish Noodling Legal in Texas?

Catfish noodling is legal in Texas under some conditions. Noodlers have to stick to legal fishing areas. They can only hand-fish from the 1st of June till the 31st of August. In addition, any catfish caught under 24 inches in size is counted as illegal. 

Is Noodling Legal in Missouri?

Catfish noodling is illegal in Missouri. It is among 34 other states where noodling is illegal. Noodling was banned in Missouri in 1919 during a time when many states were imposing stricter rules for hunters and fishers. 

Is Noodling Catfish Legal in Indiana?

Noodling catfish is illegal in Indiana. There are harsh penalties for people who noodle in Indiana. It is also illegal to use a firearm or a crossbow to shoot or kill catfish. These methods are considered cruel and pose unnecessary harm. 

Is Noodling Catfish Legal in Kansas?

It is legal to noodle for catfish in Kansas under some conditions. Some of the states that allow noodling for catfish usually only allow you to noodle from June till August. In Kansas, you are allowed to noodle from June 15th till August 31st. You also have to noodle in a legal fishing area. 

Is Catfish Noodling Real?

Catfish noodling is real. It is the practice of catching catfish with your bare hands. Catfish noodling has been around for hundreds of years. It was first practiced by Native Americans, and probably even earlier people. Noodling is also referred to as hand-fishing, dogging, gurgling, and hogging.

Outdoorskilled’s Recommended Gear for Superb Catfishing

I’ve testeI’vezens of reels, rods, and lines for Catfishing, and after years of testing, here are my quick picks that will definitely improve your current setup and results!

My recommended reel is the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Reel C3-7000 which is ideally suited for catfish.

The rod I always recommend is the KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rod. It’s lightIt’sht, durable, and affordable. Furthermore, you’d haveyou’dde selection of models to choose from, whether you’re looyou’reor a spinning or casting rod. Lastly, it comes in twin-tips models, which means you’ll be you’llg two rods rather than one.

What I use is the Berkley Trilene Big Game Monofilament Fishing Line as it’s the sit’sgest, toughest mono I’ve ever I’veed and because it has exceptional shock strength, great knot integrity, tremendous abrasion resistance, and a high-visibility color option, you really can’t findcan’ter options

Helpful Resources

A Beginner’s Guide to Catfish Fishing

Resources for Catching Catfish Faster and More Easily

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