1. Fishing for catfish using only bare hands, practiced primarily in the southern United States. The noodler places his hand inside a discovered catfish hole.
2. A form of fishing in which someone runs into a lake and searches for holes on the bottom with his foot. Then he inserts his finger into the hole and lets something bite it. Hopefully, it’s a catfish.
— Urban Dictionary
By Loyd McIntosh
Photos by Jerry Martin
The following activities are illegal or prohibited in the State of Alabama: Bear wrestling matches, to chain an alligator to a fire hydrant, to wear a fake moustache that causes laughter in church, and to be blindfolded while operating a vehicle.
Those illustrations may be a bit far-fetched, but the overall point is adventure, and real endorphin-creating, adrenaline-pumping adventure can be hard to find — at least the kind of fun that doesn’t land you in the Graybar Hotel or get your face plastered on one of those mugshot magazines you see on convenience store counters.
For those looking for a good time that will get the blood flowing and, literally, get you in touch with nature, look no further than noodling, an outdoor water sport gaining in popularity among young men throughout the area. Noodling, sometimes referred to as grabbling, is a type of fishing that eschews rod, reel and worms in favor of the bare hands.
From late-May through early-July, noodlers make their way to lakes, ponds and streams around St. Clair County. Mostly young men, these gonzo outdoorsmen look for holes near or in the banks, preferably under a dock or a boat ramp, where large catfish may be hiding. Once an appropriate spot is found, a noodler will leap over the side of their boat and into the murky water.
For the rest of the story, see our sister magazine website Discover, The Essence of St. Clair.