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Okie Noodling

Discussion in 'Turf and Surf Hunting and Fishing' started by Minuteman, Mar 15, 2008.

  1. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    I have been a "Noodler" all my life. I grew up noodling the central Oklahoma rivers with my Dad and uncles. I got a chance to go to the annual noodling contest in Pauls Valley last summer. it was a great time. I would recommend it to anyone in the area. It is usually around the first weekend of July. Held at BOB's Pig Shop. I did'nt enter this contest but intend to the first time I am home when it is going on.
    I was surprised at the press that was there. Aside from the locals there were two foriegn film crews and one making a documentary.
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  2. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    They say that to be a noodler you have to be crazy. There may be some truth in that. My noodling buddies that I grew up with would fit that desciption, at least nuts.

    Here is a couple of my favorite noodling stories.

    A guy that we grew up with had never been noodling before. "Hank" wanted to go with me and my noodling partner. We were going down the river checking underneath rocks and weren't having much success. Hank was following behind watching. When we would find a good sized rock we search around the bottom of it for a hole. The catfish will burrow a hole in the sandy river bottom and get up underneath a rock to lay thier eggs. But they always have an escape hole so you have to go all the way around the rock and have a partner to block the escape hole while you reach up into the other hole and try to get a hold of the fish.

    We checked a medium sized rock. I reached up in the hole on my side of the rock (the deeper river side), my buddy reached up in a hole on the bank (shallow) side. Our hands touched so there was no fish there. As I was withdrawing my hand he grabbed my wrist. I looked across the top of the rock and he winked, "You feel that? I think there's a fish in here.". "Yeah I said, a small one, you think we should let Hank have it?"

    We called Hank over and I told him to run his hand down along my arm and when I took my hand out of the hole to reach in as far as he could. He had to get down and turn his face away from the rock to reach up under it. I looked over and my partner had one foot on the rock and his arm up under it as far as it would go. When Hank reached in my partner grabbed his wrist and heaved for all he was worth. Hank was slammed up against the rock and you never heard the like of screaming and thrashing from a grown man.

    About the time he realized what had "got" him, my buddy looked at me and said " I don't know about you but as soon as I let go of this big SOB I'm running!" I said "You'll be behind me!" and I took off. He let Hank go and was right behind me. Hank chased us all the way back to the truck, cussing and throwing rocks at us.

    He never has asked to go with us again.

    But they say what goes around comes around. Another time we were trying to get a huge fish out from under a gigantic boulder. The hole was at the very bottom of the rock on the river side. It was about 5' deep and the current was strong. When you held your breath and pulled yourself to the bottom of the rock, fighting against the current, you were exhausted and out of air. After several unsuccessful attempts we devised a plan. We had another noodling buddy with us and we decided that the two of us would sit, cross legged, on the top of the rock near the edge ( the water was only a few inches deep on the top of it) and the guy from the first story, he would lay on his stomach and slide up between us. When he gave the signal we would each grab an ankle and shove him under the water on the river side. That way he wouldn't have to fight the current and would reach the hole with plenty of air. We were to hold him there until he signaled that he was out of air by kicking his legs. Then we would haul him to the surface.

    A pretty good plan.

    As my buddy and I sat there staring at each other across the rock, an ankle of our buddy in each of our hands, the question came to my mind " Hey, how hard you reckon he can kick?". " You want to find out?" my other buddy replied.

    So after a minute or two the buddy under the water kicked his legs slightly to signal us to haul him up. We just sat there, cheshire cat grins on our faces. Then he kicked again, a little harder. We still sat. Then the kicking began in earnest. Pretty soon it was hard to hold on. We were laughing hard with tears in our eyes when we hauled him sputtering and spitting to the surface. As soon as he could catch his breath he said "I KNEW it!! I knew as soon as my head went under the water that I'd F'd up!!!"

    So yeah I guess the crazy label for noodlers is valid. But it makes for some lifelong memories!!
  3. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member


    Thanks for sharing your stories!
  4. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    My favorite Jeff Foxworthy line;

    "If you use any part of your body as bait, you might be a redneck!"
  5. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    I've never seen it live, but I've seen a show on noodling. It looks like it's an adrenaline rush.

    I don't think I could ever do it.
  6. Blackjack

    Blackjack Monkey+++

    Sorry MM, but I gotta agree with "they" on that one ;)

    I've had friends do it, and I truly love fishing, but I aint stickin' my hand in a hole in the riverbank. Gotta draw the line there :)
  7. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Yeah Im kind of opposed to snakes, let alone if was far enouph south to potentialy run into gators.
  8. Blackjack

    Blackjack Monkey+++

    The business end of snappin turtles is what scares me.
  9. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    If you learn from an experienced noodler you will never touch anything but a fish. There are ways to determine if a hole is a fish hole or not. You don't stick your hand in it until you have checked it out first.

    That documentary that came out a few years ago had a guy on there who is a flat out idiot. The guy that was on David Letterman.
    You NEVER noodle around brush piles and up underneath the bank. Stupid.

    We have a lot of college kids come out in the summer, with a lot of alcohol involved, and they are the only ones I ever heard of that got a hold of anything besides fish.

    One guy was noodling around a brushpile and stuck his hand up in a beavers den. His nickname is now stumpy.

    As for snakes and turtles, the catfish are spawning when we noodle and they are defending thier nest. If it is a fish hole, and you'll know if it is, then there won't be anything else in there. Especially with Blue cats. They are very aggressive and will attack anything that enters thier nest.

    Snakes in the water will usually swim away from you, and in Okla we don't have cottonmouths where I'm at, too cold for them.

    But it is dangerous to a degree. You can get your arm caught and not be able to come to the surface. I heard of a guy that had his young nephew with him and a huge monster of a fish got a hold of his arm and wouldn't let go. It was pulling the kid down river and the uncle grabbed his ankle and was fighting to hold on. The kid ended up with nerve damage in his arm.

    My buddy had his arm broke a few years ago. He was trying to get a 40 pounder out of a hole. He had fought with it for some time when the fish quit fighting. He relaxed the arm that he had a hold of the fish with and started pulling it out. All of the sudden the fish rolled hard and my buddies arm was wrenched to the right and it broke. He got the fish tho!

    You can tell the noodlers homes around here. During noodling season we take the heads of the fish after we clean them and stick them on the fence posts along our driveways. My wife was raised in the city. Never been on a dirt raod until she met me. After we got married we bought a house out in the country. One day we were driving by a guys house and he had about a dozen fish heads on his fence. My wife couldn't believe it. She started humming the theme song from deliverance. She thinks it's barbaric.

    I've had a lot of guys that said "Man I'll never do that!" but when they went out with us and started seeing us pull them fish out from under them rocks they had to try it. And then they were hooked. Well, except for Hank. It is an adrenaline rush like you wouldn't believe. And it is a fight. Just you and that fish, no hooks to set, no lines to break, just sheer will power, man against beast, whoever is the baddest wins.

    Man, getting excited, can't wait till summer!!!!
  10. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    Call me crazy but I'd like to try it. :)

  11. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    OK, you're crazy. :lol:
  12. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    Hmmm..., maybe a Monkey Noodle this summer? Come to Oklahoma around the 4th of July. Camp out on the river. I'll have a couple of buddies with airboats. Run trot (not "trout" in these parts) lines and noodle during the day. Consume massive amounts of dead animals and adult beverages at night. Sounds good. Who's in?


    Seriously tho, the skill of hand fishing is one that any survivalist needs to master. In a survival situation it is the fastest and easiest way to provide a large amount of food. You aren't going to feed an extended family or large group by rod and reel. Nets and traps work well IF the fish come to them. In hand fishing you go find the fish. They can't hide.

    There are stories of entire tribes of local Native Americans that would make a temporary camp on the river and the men would hand fish huge catfish. There are reports of 200+ pound cats coming out of the Arkansas River up until the early 1900's. The Indians would wrap them in mud and bake them in an open pit. Then they would have a huge fish feast.

    Even today we can go out and in a couple of afternoons get enough fish to feed dozens of people.

    Good skill to have.
  13. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    I'd love to but we are already working 6 days a week and they are talking about going to 7 days a week. [beat]

  14. TheWiseGuy

    TheWiseGuy Monkey++

    Hmmm im gald i live in oklahoma and what you told me mm its about 40 mins away from were i live ive been wanting to noodle for ever!!!!!!
  15. 13BRAVO

    13BRAVO "Hit the ground running!"

    I have a friend that does that. I guess you could say I ain't stickin' my hand in something I can't see. He's come back with stories that would blow your socks off. He told me if you smell a musky odor that would probably be a muskrat or a beaver and not to put your hand in that hole. His name is Tracy Beckelheimer if anyone knows him. He's from the Wayne Payne area, maybe even lives in Purcell or Lexington.

    Those are some big Flats, M.M.
  16. Pauly Walnuts

    Pauly Walnuts Monkey++

    FUG THAT!!! No desire and you guys are nuts!!! I love rednecks because you guys will try anything!! I've heard of guys drowning, having fingers removed by snapping turtles and all sorts of crap!
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