News 9's Lacie Lowry And Lacey Swope Learn The Art Of Okie Noodling

Monday, July 14th 2014, 7:17 pm
By: News 9

Noodling, cat fishing, tickling, any way you want to say it, it's fishing for catfish with your bare hands. The practice is banned in many states, except a handful including Oklahoma. So, we sent our Lacie Lowry and Lacey Swope out on an adventure to Keystone Lake to show us the dangers, the fun, and the art of Okie Noodling.

"It's called Hillbilly Hand Fishing here in Oklahoma, that's what noodling is," said Lacey Swope, a meteorologist for News 9.

According to Bass Pro Shops 1Source noodling is best done during the spawning season in spring and summer, when catfish are more likely to stay in their hole and protect their eggs.

"It seems pretty easy, just sticking your hand in a hole and pulling out a catfish, not that easy," said News 9 anchor Lacie Lowry.

Noodling can be done in shallow water with your head above the water or you can chose to go deeper, under the water to find the catfish, which is what Swope and Lowry did. They also went out with guides that knew exactly where the catfish would be lurking.

"You literally go down under the water, there's holes you'll feel around with your feet, go down with your hands, feel and see what's in that hole," said Swope.

However, experts say it's best to jab a stick into the hole before your hand to make sure there's a fish in there and not something else.

"There are so many hazards to this that have nothing to do with catfish, you've got snapping turtles, you've got snakes, you've got beavers, all of which can either kill you or take your hand off," said Lowry.

When you determine it's a catfish in the hole, you stick your hand inside the hole. You can do it barehanded or wear gloves. Swope and Lowry decided to wear gloves. Once your hand is inside the hole, you wait until the catfish bites it.

"The catfish don't have big teeth, they have really fine, sandpaper-like teeth," Swope said.

Despite several attempts Swope and Lowry kept losing their fish.

"The first I was trying to catch, it wouldn't open its mouth, it wouldn't bite me," Swope said. "So once I pried this particular fish's mouth open, stuck my hand in there, knew that I had it, I shoved my other hand, up under its gill and was trying to pull it out. I completely underestimated what a flathead can do and it was out of my hands in two seconds, it was gone."

For Lowry, holding her breath was a problem.

"There was a couple of times where I thought I was going to be able to reach up and get some breath and I couldn't and I had a moment of panic," said Lowry. "Then you also have the scare of getting your arm caught in some of these jagged rock spots."

Later in the day, Swope did finally keep a hold of one, but then let it go.

"Just put them back down there by their hole and they're good to go," Swope said. "I mean they're good eatin', but most of the time it's just for the sport and you let 'em go."

One thing both Swope and Lowry agreed on after their day of noodling, was they hope to do it again.

"We will go noodling again for sure," Swope said. "Now that I've done it and I've been bit, yeah, it's on."

"I will absolutely do it again," Lowry said. "Here's the thing, I always do it in a safe, controlled environment, as controlled as you can be I guess. I always go with people who know what they're doing because I don't know what I’m doing."

Here are five things you need to know before going Noodling, according to Bass Pro Shops 1Source:

  • Noodle in Shallow Water, with No Strong Current
  • Never Noodle Alone
  • Check Holes for Snakes, Snapping Turtles or Beavers Before Sticking Your Hand In
  • Carry a First Aid Kit
  • Wear Tight Clothing
Learn more.