Today’s edition of The Economist analyses another weighty
subject – noodling. Noodling is the art of hand-fishing for giant
catfish – a “primeval calling for some of the rougher outdoorsmen” of
America’s South and mid-west which is illegal in 37 states. As The

Noodling is a little akin to “tickling” salmon in
Scottish burns, but a lot messier. The noodler, empty-handed and
stripped to the waist, wades along riverbank hollows, rooting
underwater with his hands. Finding a hole in the muck, he wiggles his
fingers inside it, where they sometimes tempt the snapping jaws of a
whiskered catfish, defending its brood. (Some suppose “noodlers” are
named after this finger-waggling; others, many of them with scarred
hands, admit it is slang for “idiot”.) Then the fight is on: a good
noodler forces both hands down the fish’s maw, wraps his legs around
its tail and heaves the beast, which can weigh 50lbs (22.7kg), to the
surface. Bloody but proud he stands, more Greek wrestler than aloof

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