Monday, March 16, 2009

Entry: Noodling

I first heard about noodling on NPR (considering the stereotypical NPR listener, it's amazing how much one can learn about rural life from it, especially on the weekends). I tuned in in the middle of the program, so while I learned that it was popular in Oklahoma, I wasn't sure what it was for a while. Considering the activity is called "noodling," I thought maybe it produced baby Okies, but that is not the case at all. By the time I pieced together what noodling is, not only had I reached my destination and it was time to turn the radio off, but I was all shades of "Are you effing kidding me." Surely those mellow-voiced, eloquently homey radio hosts were pulling a fast one!

When I got home I turned to Wiki, and, well, the proof is in the pudding. And by "pudding" I mean "open-source encyclopedia entry." I might as well just cut and paste, because I'm sure you're getting impatient:

Although the concept, catching fish with only the use of the arm in the water, is simple enough, the process of noodling is more complicated. The choice of catfish as the prey is not arbitrary, but comes from the circumstances of their habitat. Flathead catfish live in holes or under brush in rivers and lakes and thus are easy to capture due to the static nature of their dwelling. To begin, a noodler goes underwater to depths ranging from only a few feet to up to twenty feet, placing his hand inside a discovered catfish hole. If all goes as planned, the catfish will swim forward and latch onto the fisherman's hand, usually as a defensive maneuver in order to try to escape the hole. If the fish is particularly large, the noodler can hook the head around its gills.

If you're having trouble wrapping your head around that, here's a montage to illustrate, courtesy of YouTube.



Yankee that I am, the thought of sticking my hand in a giant fish's gill strikes me as kind of gross. It's also a pastime that involves the very real possibility of pissing off snapping turtles, gators, or whatever angry, sharp-toothed, aquatic animals might live in your region (including the catfish themselves-- a 60 pound fish must be a formidable opponent). TILfW's official stance: consider taking up macrame instead.

7 comments:

Pooka said...

Re: baby Okies - You're thinking of "canoodling". Although, given the stature and ample bosom of the Nordic Amazon depicted in the opening montage, as well as her swirly-fish powers, perhaps the locals find this to be a display of courtship and, uh, finger prowess? Leading, eventually, to baby Okies anyway.

Regina said...

I like how the fish is still emitting love bubbles even after she's brought it above the surface of the water, where it will suffocate. Now that's charisma.

Chiara said...

Noodling here, at least in cooper pedy, means looking for opals on the surface, in the scraps of rock around other people's mine shafts.

Regina said...

I would much rather end my day with an opal than a 60-pound catfish. At least I could theoretically sell the opal and buy some fish that I actually like to eat.

Nuclearun said...

okay, here's an odd thing to me, and bear in mind I'm not really complaining, but has anyone else noticed that the vast majority of canoodlers are women? I mean excluding those guys that were on Dirty Jobs; most of the time you only see women doing it in videos... maybe I'm just watching all the right videos...

Regina said...

Nuclearun: generally, it's a good marketing practice to put a pretty girl in wherever possible, which explains the video. The NPR show where I initially heard about noodling featured an interview with what sounded like a grizzled, at-least-middle-aged man; then again, I don't think they were trying to encourage the practice.

Nuclearun said...

Actually I've thought about it a bit more and insight came to me, its not that there are an inordinate number of women noodling, there are just statistically fewer women doing other forms of fishing, and there is a lot of other fishing going on. Hence: if there are 50 ways to fish (as an example) and in 49 of those 95% of those who fish are men, that doesn't mean that the 1 way of fishing thats 50/50 is biased towards women fishing, just that the other 49 are biased towards men.