Fishermen Go Hogging for Catfish

RUSSELLVILLE, AR (KAIT) -- This time of year you'll see boat loads of people on lakes and rivers trying to catch fish.  Most people use the traditional rod and reel, but that's not the only method that you can use.

All throughout Lake Dardanelle the Butler family has fifty-five gallon barrels secured underwater that they say catfish love to call home.

"We take what we call the dow rod or noodling stick and we'll stick that up in there and feel around.  That way we know what's in there," said Glen Butler.

Glen Butler said there are different ways to noodle or hog the fish.  Some people stick their hand into the hole in the barrel, but run the risk of catching something else they don't want to catch like snakes, snapping turtles, or beavers.

"We kind of go at it a different way.  We know what's in that particular hole before we ever run our hands in there," said Butler.

After they make sure a fish is in there, it's time for the fun part.

"You stick your hand in the hole and he's sitting there and he's going to hit his tail, come up, and swallow your hand and bite.  It feels about like a car door slamming medium speed on your hand," said Brian Butler.

The gloves they wear to noodle catch on the fish's teeth allowing the noodler to get a good grip.  But that doesn't mean the fish will make it easy on you.

"It's just fish against man is what it all boils down to," said Glen Butler.

"It's a rush to actually go down and just wrestle them out of the holes.  I don't fish with a rod and reel anymore after I started noodling.  It's just no fun to me anymore," said Brian Butler.

There is a noodling season in Arkansas.  For anyone north and west of Highway 67, the season is open from July 15th until October 31st and for anyone south and east of Highway 67 the dates are from June 1st until October 31st.  There are also specific dates for specific rivers.  For those who want to try their hand at hand fishing Brian Butler said it's important to take an experienced noodler with you because it can be very dangerous.

According the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission you can hog or noodle for buffalo, catfish, carp and drum.

In Missouri they are currently doing an experimental season for hand fishing.   The Missouri Department of Conservation tells Region 8 News the season is only for very specific areas of the state of Missouri and those areas are in northern Missouri.