Freedom to Fish


In a triumph for liberty lovers everywhere, the great state of Missouri has legalized–sort of–the hand fishing or "noodling" of catfish, in which intrepid sportsmen and women grab the fugly things with their bare hands.

The practice had been barred due to concerns about depleting breeding catfish and dangers to practitioners (including, apparently, passing out under water and pulling up snakes and snapping turtles rather than whiskered fish)–issues that didn't keep 11 other states from allowing noodling.

Whole story here.

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  1. Hand fishing is an important aspect of the right to bare arms.

  2. I wonder if this sport will enjoy a popularity boost from the opening scene of The Return of the King

  3. Shewt, we don need none of them fancy poles!

  4. Okay, you can noodle a catfish.
    Can you canoodle one?

  5. They haven’t exactly made it legal… They charge $7 for a permit to do it!

  6. Ayatollah – if I could pay $7 for a pot smokin’ permit, I’d call it legal.

  7. Well, Adam, after leaving a dozen messages, the County Clerk would finally call you back, and tell you to come by the office at 11. You’d show up, and sit in a chair for two and half hours, then he’d walk in, give you a big “Oh, yeah” look, and tell you he’s calling the Sec. of State about getting the permit forms RIGHT NOW. The Sec. of State doesn’t answer, so the Clerk then tells you he’ll call you that night.

    The next morning, you call him back. He tells you he’ll call you back in ten minutes. Two hours later, he calls and says you can pick up permit at 5:00, but it’s going to be $9 instead of seven…

    Three days later, the County Clerk hands you your $13 hand fishing permit, which you gratefully accept.

  8. I would have thought concerns over declining stocks of fish would be more relevant in situations where trawlers or other large scale methods were in use. A smallish number of people catching fish with their bare hands (!) ought not to endanger supplies, should it? I’ll admit that I’m no expert on the issue, but logic tells me that regulation on *commercial* fishing and ensuring sustainability of those areas should be their focus. That said, in my home town abalone fishing is very tightly controlled and bag limits are imposed, for probably good reason. Every year it’s touch and go whether there are enough stocks to sustain fishing for future years.

  9. This is indeed a weird sport. I finished shooting a documentary on the subject just this last summer. On the subject of depleting the catfish population, on our best day we brought in about 16-20 fish. But those were also days when we had 10 people with us which only gave 1 or 2 to each person.

  10. Did anybody see that “King of the Hill” episode when Kahn becomes a redneck, and he and his friends smear rotted fish all over their forearms, and when they lower their arms into the water a catfish swallows their hand and arm? Apparently it’s both harmless and a way to get some good eatin’.

    I wonder if that’s covered by these licenses.

  11. Adam the concern over depleting fish stocks comes from the fact that noodling is done while catfish are guarding their nests…that’s why they are so aggressive.

    Fish and Wildlife management is one of those places where a wholly unregulated “free market” doesn’t make sense, at least in terms of our current moderns society. Tragedy of the commons and all.

  12. Noodling involves having the catfish actually bite onto the arm of the noodler, right?

    All the news stories I’ve seen about this don’t mention that aspect.

    Nothing wrong with the practice – I was just curious.

  13. But trainwreck, we could always transfer ownership of the catfish from “the public” to the Catfish Noodling Society, just like the Scots treat their salmon. Owners don’t treat their property like a commons.


  14. How much noodle could a catfish can if a catfish could canoodle?

  15. The cold hard lands
    they bites our hands,
    they gnaws our feet.

    The rocks and stones
    are like old bones
    all bare of meat.

    But stream and pool
    is wet and cool:
    so nice for feet!

    We only wish
    to catch a fish,
    so juicy-sweet!

  16. They can have my catfish when they pry it from my cold, dead hand!

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