I understand how noodling for flathead catfish can be hazardous for the human. This activity has resulted in bloody knuckles, broken wrists and even death. These hazards do not even include those from snapping turtles, poisonous snakes, or lacerations from unseen submerged objects.

In fact, this method of fishing is only legal in 15 states with Wisconsin recently making it legal. The Wisconsin link video mentions the possibility of adopting seasons and bag limits to help protect the catfish populations.

Is noodling more detrimental to catfish populations than fishing with a rod and reel?

  • Who said it is? Sep 9, 2018 at 21:16
  • With a few exceptions, Wisconsin has a year round season for catfishing with hook and line in general inland waters. The fact that they are considering a season for noodling makes me wonder what makes it different. Also, the fact that the majority of states do not allow it but do allow catfishing with rod and reel. I could be wrong, but I'd be surprised if they all do not allow it for the safety of the angler only. Sep 9, 2018 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


Yes, because of which catfish are taken and when. Specifically, because it targets the mature catfish when they are guarding their nests.

The problem with this technique is that noodling targets large, mature blue and flathead catfish while they are spawning. During their spawning times, these catfish hunker down in dens, crevices, and holes and aggressively protect their nests. It’s at this time noodlers stick their hands near the nests creating a reaction strike from the fish. At this point, they are grabbed by the fisherman and removed.


Missouri’s biological concerns are that handfishers, who go for the biggest fish they can wrestle from riverbanks or hollow logs, will take too many sexually mature fish from their underwater nests.


After the second season, though, the MDC pulled the plug on the experiment, due to concerns that noodling could harm catfish populations.

When noodling occurs is at a point in time when the females are laying eggs in cavities and then the males are coming behind them and protecting those nests,” said MDC Regional Fisheries Supervisor Christopher Kennedy. “So anytime we interrupt that process that nest has a very high percentage rate of failing and it could have dramatic impacts on your populations.”

How the Catfish Noodling Craze Washed Over America

So it does have more impact on the fish populations, and I suspect that its one of those things that got onto TV and then turned into something of a craze.

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