Hand-Grabbing or Noodling for Catfish in Mississippi
Hand-Grabbing for Catfish – Fun for the Entire Family
Editor’s Note: When you’re hand-grabbing catfish (noodling), most of the action takes place underwater, but when the catfish and the fishermen come up, the action’s almost like grabbing a tiger by the tail. When you’re underwater, and you grab a big flathead catfish weighing 20 pounds or more in themouth and pull it out of the box you’ve sunk to create a hole where it can spawn, you’re in for a dramatic catfish fight. I learned about hand-grabbing for cats from five-time world-champion turkey caller and founder of Preston Pittman Game Calls Preston Pittman of Pickens, Mississippi. “My friends Michael Willoughby and Steve Bowden are the real hand-grabbers,” Pittman says. “They’ve been doing it for years, and they’re the best I’ve ever met.” Willoughby and Bowden build boxes and sink them on Ross Barnett Reservoir, near Jackson, Mississippi, before hand-grabbing season arrives, which generally runs from May until about mid-July in Mississippi. Then, when hand-grabbing season starts, they check their boxes to see if the boxes have any catfish in them.Willoughby and Bowden always leave some boxes undisturbed to give the catfish a spawning place to reproduce more catfish. “A hand-grabbing trip is fun for the entire family,” Pittman explains.
This past week I went hand-grabbing with Pittman, Willoughby, Bowden and many of their friends and relatives. I didn’t realize how much fun a catfishing trip could be. Hand-grabbing catfish wasn’t just a man’s sport; wives and girlfriends accompanied us on this trip. These ladies, wearing gloves, went down underwater and would grab a catfish by the jaw, quicker than you could say, “I got ‘im.” Stay with us all week to see some of the fastest and the most-fun catfish-grabbing you’ve ever seen.