Summertime Catfish Noodling

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1 | Checking a Catfish Hole

A day of noodling catfish begins by reaching into an underwater hole to see what’s inside.

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2 | Flathead Catfish Bite

If something is inside, it’ll usually bite you. This is often the result.

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3 | Noodlers Fighting a Small Flathead

Every now and then, a catfish will be waiting in the hole, guarding its nest. If you’re quick enough, you can grab its bottom jaw when it bites your hand and pull it out.

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4 | Wrestling a Big Flathead to the Bank

Once you “have aholt” of the fish in open water, the fight begins. This is when arms get skinned, fingers get broken, and cuss words get used.

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5 | 40-pound Flathead Catfish

Flathead and blue catfish can weigh upwards of 100 pounds. This one is around 40.

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6 | Best Grip for Noodling Flatheads

If you really want to get a thrashing catfish to the bank or boat with your hands, you’d best learn some good holds. A hand in the mouth and a hand under the gill plate work best.

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7 | Girls Gone Grabblin'

Some folks have made a business of grabbing cats. Pictured here are Marty Jenkins (foreground); Fostana Jenkins (background, right); and Michelle Brantley taking still shots for the next Girls Gone Grabblin’ video.

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8 | Matt Brantley with a Flathead Catfish

There’s no denying a big flathead is a picturesque critter.

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9 | Releasing a Flathead

Flatheads are great to eat, but we (and most noodlers I know) release them most of the time. This past June, we caught the same marked flathead from the same hole three days in a row.

 

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10 | Checking Under a Big Rock for Nesting Catfish

Likely catfish holes can be found under big rocks, logs and old concrete slabs.

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11 | Stringer of Catfish

We don’t let them all go, though—a fish fry must have a source.

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12 | Admiring a Big Flathead

Being a good catfish noodler really only requires two things: holding your breath and not letting go.

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13 | Flathead Catfish are Apex Predators

Of course, an appreciation for an apex predator like a flathead helps, too. I once heard of a noodler who caught a flathead with a 3-pound bass in its gullet.

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14 | Late-Season Catfish Noodling

With summer coming to a close, the flatheads are leaving their nests and thus, another season of noodling comes to an end.

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Crazy or not, catfish noodling is illegal most places not because it’s dangerous, but because it’s so effective at catching giant flathead catfish