Electric Noodling

catfish

Several weeks ago, I was searching for the best electrician Birmingham AL has to offer because I was having some serious issues with my electrical outlets.  As I was looking all over the web for a highly reputable company, an ad popped up in the corner of my computer screen that really caught my eye.  It said “Looking for an adrenaline rush?  Love the outdoors?  Contact us to schedule a lesson in Noodling!”  Well you know I had to at least find out what the heck “noodling” is. 

After I went down a big wormhole on the internet, here is what I came up with:  Noodling, I discovered, is the sport of catching catfish with your bare hands.  Yes, I said bare hands!  The “fisherman” doesn’t use a fishing pole, a net, or any bait.  They simply put their hands in a well-known catfish hangout and wait for the catfish to clamp down on their bare skin (or glove-covered skin, at the very least).

This sounded really crazy and fascinating to me at the same time!  I am quite the adventurer and I love to try new things.  I decided that I wanted to try this sport, too.  First, however, I needed to do some research and figure out the best and safest way to try it. I felt like clicking on an ad was not the answer so I did some more digging to find someone with experience and skill.

I located a great noodling instructor at Lay Lake, which is not too far from Birmingham.  I picked a Saturday and drove over there to give it a try.  From the beginning of his lesson, the instructor really had me a bit scared.  He discussed the dangers of noodling.  Perhaps the most dangerous thing is the fact that other types of living creatures like to reside in the same holes as the catfish.  Some of these creatures are poisonous snakes, alligators, and snapping turtles.  Another danger is drowning.  It can be an overwhelming sensation when a catfish chomps down on your arm or fingers and sometimes the pain or the frightening shock can cause you to lose your footing and swallow too much water. 

The positive information the instructor provided was that he had been doing this for a long time in this one lake and he was very familiar with the catfish holes.  Also, he was going to “spot” me when it was my turn to “fish”. 

I put on all of my gear.  I decided to wear my wetsuit that I usually used when I was scuba diving.  I also had long, heavy gloves on because I really did not want to lose any part of my hand or arm.

Bob, the instructor, took me to a shallow area of the lake, which was nice because I was relatively sure I wasn’t going to drown in the shallow water.  He instructed me on placement of my hands and fingers, how to stay pretty still, and also how to remain calm.  He took his spot just beside me so he could help me if I needed it.  I counted to ten and slowly placed my arm about a foot inside the dark cave along the side of the lake.  I waited for only a few minutes before I felt it; undeniably the most instant shock I’ve experienced recently, a tightening of the skin under my thick glove as something chomped down on my arm, just above my wrist.

I yanked my arm towards me on instinct and pulled up this crazy, fighting catfish!  My first thought was that it has to be about a 50-pound catfish.  It was really struggling with me, so Bob grabbed the catfish from behind and we were able to drag it to the side of the lake.  It took a while to get that catfish to release my arm, but Bob was finally able to assist and get it to release its strong grip.  I grabbed the catfish by the gills so we could weigh it, and it registered as a 35-pound beast.  Wow, that was a thrill and I’m so glad that I tried it, but just once. 

I did eventually go back and track down a reliable electrician, in case you were wondering!

-JP