Feb 10 2010

Illustration Friday – Muddy (#10)

This week’s Illustration Friday topic is Muddy. To me nothing is muddier than a catfish. I grew up near the Mississippi River in Illinois, and there were always rumors of giant catfish that lived below the dams. Supposedly they were as big as Volkswagen Beetles, growing huge on whatever food spilled over the dam. If you’ve ever seen videos or photos of guys (or girls) “noodling” for catfish, it’s one of the freakiest things ever.

Noodling is fishing for catfish using only bare hands, practiced primarily in the southern United States.
Although the concept of catching fish with only the use of the arm in the water is simple enough, the process of noodling is more complicated. The choice of catfish as the prey is not arbitrary, but comes from the circumstances of their habitat. Flathead catfish live in holes or under brush in rivers and lakes and thus are easy to capture due to the static nature of their dwelling. To begin, a noodler goes underwater to depths ranging from only a few feet to up to twenty feet and places his hand inside a discovered catfish hole. If all goes as planned, the catfish will swim forward and latch onto the fisherman’s hand, usually as a defensive maneuver, in order to try to escape the hole. If the fish is particularly large, the noodler can hook the hand around its gills.

Most noodlers have spotters who help them bring the catfish in, either to shore or to their boat. When a catfish bites onto a noodler, it holds on for quite a while.

With some of the biggest fish caught weighing in at up to 50-60 pounds, very few noodlers are strong enough to attempt noodling by themselves. Although carrying the fish after they have been subdued is not difficult, trying to secure a fish and remove it from one’s hand at the same time can be a challenge.

Giant catfish (pretty much any catfish) give me the creeps. Plus, if you’ve ever been jabbed by one of their barbs…ouch.

Another all digital piece.

Photo credits:
CatfishSara T
Fish Texturekgreggain
TextureOnur Aksoy