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What other conduct should be decriminalized?

Missouri Approves Fishing With Bare Hands

December 28, 2004 4:17 PM EST


COLUMBIA, Mo. - Next summer, it will be legal to plunge into some Missouri rivers and grab catfish by hand - a type of fishing that is not for the faint of heart.


Known variously as noodling or hogging, handfishing has long been a misdemeanor punishable by fines, because state officials fear it depletes breeding-age catfish. It can also be dangerous: Noodlers hold their breath for long periods under water and sometimes come up with fistfuls of agitated snakes or snapping turtles instead of fish.


That does not discourage enthusiasts, who insist there is great sportsmanship in fishing with your bare hands.


So after years of urging by noodlers, and lopsided legislative support for easing up on handfishers, the Missouri Conservation Commission has approved an experimental handfishing season next summer. Forms of handfishing are already legal in 11 states, including neighboring Oklahoma, Arkansas and Illinois.


"It's a start," John Smith, deputy director of the Conservation Department, said Tuesday. "We are moving forward in good faith to answer the legitimate biological concerns that we have, and balance that with the requests for making this process legal."


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.


The commission agreed to a June 1-July 15 season, during which handfishers who have bought a $7 permit can use only their bare hands and feet to catch a daily total of five catfish. Fish under 22 inches long must be thrown back.


Handfishing will be legal only along specified stretches of the Fabius, St. Francis and Mississippi rivers.
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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"...during which handfishers who have bought a $7 permit can use only their bare hands and feet to catch a daily total of five catfish."


Catching fish with your feet? Now that I gotta see ...
 
Posts: 2427 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Is that the sound of banjo music I hear, Shannon?
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Oh right, John -- everybody knocks the banjo player, just because of one little hormonal glitch in one mountain venue, and remember, that little guy wasn't the one who was doing the you-know-what with Ned Beatty. Actually the banjo player was probably the most in-touch one of the bunch; but you never hear about how neighborly and talented banjo players are since that movie. It's always "...oh, you catch catfish with your feet, do you play the banjo too?" And, "So, your Aunt Betty Joe is engaged to your momma's older son by her fifth marriage, how many banjo players are going to be at the wedding?" and other buzz-killing slurs.

Does anybody realize that it takes no less than 8 fingers, each one doing something different at the same time, to play Earl's Breakdown or Old Joe Clark? Does anybody know that the banjo is a truly American invention, sort of like the space shuttle? Give us pickers a break and cast your dispersions on the bassoon players for a change -- now there's an odd lot.
 
Posts: 751 | Location: Huntsville, Tx | Registered: January 31, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I guessing you also play the mouth harp and spoons. I didn't know you were such the Renaissance Man, A.P. My apologies. Or, as my daughter says, just before she comments on my flagrant fashion violations, "No offense, Dad, but..."
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Shannon, I for one have witnessed this fishing spectacle and no, I don't play the banjo. My good buddy, Bill Striebeck (formerly of Halletsville,TX) is now the self proclaimed "Catfish Grabbin' Lawyer" in Greenville, Mississippi. He took me with him a number of years ago when I was still living in Mississippi and it's the d@mdest thing you've ever seen. If you ever get a chance to see it done, you should go. These "grabbers" or "grabblers" as they're sometimes called will dive under the water, locate the catfish den and use their arm, leg, or a pole of some sort, to run the fish into a corner of the den so they can catch the fish with their hands, string him on a line and then hoist the fish out of the water and into a boat. And yes, they do frequently encounter turtles and water moccasins in the dens or area where they're "fishing" which is more than enough for me to question their sanity. But it's quite a sight to see.
 
Posts: 293 | Registered: April 03, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Interesting sport, but not one I would participate in, even as an ardent fisherman. I have too abiding a fear of snakes, large snapping turtles and gar.

If you want to see some daring in this area, just go sometime to the Lake Livingston Dam on the Trinity River when they are shutting the flow down. When they shut the water flow or reduce it, it leaves big pools of water in the rip-rock below the dam, and it was there that I watched as these crazy guys stuck their hands and bodies under water "noodling" for big cats. It was astounding, nonetheless, to watch these fellows yanking huge monster catfish from the rocks, grabbing them barehanded through their gills, and sometimes reaching into their mouths and out through the gills to grab ahold of them.

And yes, it did seem whilst watching it like it should be accompanied by banjo music.

Here's my banjo joke A.P.:

Q: What do you call perfect pitch with a banjo?

A: WHen you heave a banjo into a dumpster and it doesn't hit the sides on the way in.

I just wonder how someone could do this with their feet?
 
Posts: 2578 | Location: The Great State of Texas | Registered: December 26, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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That's real cute, Greg
Banjo pitching & dumpster diving -- might soon be Olympic events, or maybe even NBA halftime shows, along with oil & water art shows on the floor of the Exxon station.
 
Posts: 751 | Location: Huntsville, Tx | Registered: January 31, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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An Irish bud of mine told me about noodling fish in Ireland many years ago. Apparently its a common sport over there, perhaps because Ireland has been snakeless ever since St. Patrick ran them all off the island 1,500 years ago. Another difference: the noodlers there don't usually play the banjo--they just go to the pub to sing.
 
Posts: 686 | Location: Beeville, Texas, U.S.A. | Registered: March 22, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Greg: The next time you see grabbling going on, please whip out your cell phone and report it to 800-792-GAME. That is the number for Operation Game Thief, which is a statewide wildlife crimestoppers organization affiliated with Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. Catching fish by hand is a crime (class C), and that number is answered 24 hours a day. A local game warden will be dispatched. You can remain anonymous if you like, and may even be eligible for a reward.
 
Posts: 245 | Location: Austin, Texas | Registered: July 08, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Is it still a crime if these noodlers wait until the big cats die from suffocation (is it "suffocation" to be deprived of water?)? In other words, is it still a fish after its a dead fish?

I'm years and years away from longevity pay. I could use a reward or two.
 
Posts: 39 | Location: Crockett, Texas, USA | Registered: January 04, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Scary first it was, "Is a dead person still a person" now "Is a dead fish still a fish" I really should go back to working on something productive.
 
Posts: 293 | Location: Austin, TX, US | Registered: September 12, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yesterday on Dan Patrick's ESPN radio show over the lunch hour, he spent most of his show talking about a "noodling" documentary he saw on cable. He called it "the best thing I've seen on TV in the last 10 years."

I think they might try to get it included in EPSN's "Outdoor Games" contest ...
 
Posts: 2427 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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For details on noodling from a first person perspective, check out this article.

 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Leave it to John Bradley to stimulate exciting debate about the more interesting issues in our profession. Like he said in another thread, I bet civil lawyers don't think about this stuff.
 
Posts: 2578 | Location: The Great State of Texas | Registered: December 26, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You see, John, as has been discussed in that other thread about stealing the woman's pacemaker -- I wonder why nobody thought about the other possible chargeable offense, the one in the federal game laws. If they would've just waited and done a little surveillance, they probably could have caught that fellow using the pacemaker to "call-up" some catfish, as was talked about in the forum a couple of years ago. If the device's battery is still up to its full potential, a drummer or other wildlife enthusiast could splice some wires onto the pacemaker's leads, drop the wires into the water from each side of the boat, switch 'er to "on" and scoop up the booty. Now, you're talking about some high-quality prosecutable offenses.
 
Posts: 751 | Location: Huntsville, Tx | Registered: January 31, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I must confess that I have no experience shocking fish. But there is this east Texas bass player friend of mine that lives up near Lovelady that I hear stories about...Based upon my fishing experiences, most fish in most places are pretty safe from me.
 
Posts: 2578 | Location: The Great State of Texas | Registered: December 26, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'm sure like everything if texas allowed noodling there would be reasonable limits on the size of the catch.

 
Posts: 55 | Location: College Station, TX, USA | Registered: January 24, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Those fellers said they were goin' out to pick up some girls after checking in with the probation officer -- looks like they got hooked up with the Shagnasty twins from over in Hogwaller County. I wonder if the guys are going to have a little wine after that moonlit slow dance.
 
Posts: 751 | Location: Huntsville, Tx | Registered: January 31, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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... Or maybe a little sherry.
 
Posts: 1233 | Location: Amarillo, Texas, USA | Registered: March 15, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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