Friday, July 6, 2012

Noodling - An Okie Tradition

Ahoy Fellow Fathomers! Today in The Locker I pay tribute to the longstanding tradition of noodling. Otherwise known as "hand fishing" in some parts of the country. This fascinating hobby is actually a rite of passage in some families and taken very seriously by anyone involved in the sport. You must take it seriously, otherwise, things can get fairly dangerous beneath murky water.
According to Wikipedia, the method of noodling http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noodling is explained as such:
"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 easier 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; noodling in pairs is considered important for safety, and also makes it a more social activity, with noodling partners often forming long-term partnerships.[1]
A typical weight for a flathead catfish caught by noodling is 40 lb (18 kg).[1]"

In my homestate of Oklahoma, festivals completely dedicated to the sport of noodling have gained national notoriety. Check the following links for some good times information:
http://www.paulsvalley.com/noodling.html
http://okienoodling.com/okienoodling/splash.html
Even National Geographic got involved! http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/american-festivals/okie-noodling-photos/
Folks are mighty proud of Southern traditions, and everyone in the host communities gets involved.

But, would YOU want to put your hand in this things' mouth?

UGH! gives me the willies just thinking about it. Don't fool yourself women ARE doing this too...it isn't solely a male exclusive adventure. I just prefer to watch from the sidelines, or catch my fish with a pole.
This renegade redneck activity inspired a new novella, entitled, Finding Love Under a Rock. I wrote this YA romance as the beginning of a new series entitled the Critter Getter series. My heroes and heroines will be searching for Bigfoot, exploring animal suicides, the Fibonacci sequence and bees, and a whole series of other weirdness for the YA crowd. This should please my pre-teen daughter, Allee, immensely.

Please enjoy this excerpt:

"Kalista trudged slowly toward the cabin and her new escapade into the wild. Her hiking boots crunched against fallen sticks and dead leaves from above. The rocky terrain made it slightly challenging to maintain a feminine gait and she felt unnaturally awkward. She looked toward the open cabin door and kept waiting for Leandra to come back out and see where she was. Okay, Leandra, no one grabbed you and shoved you down some trap door once you got inside, did they? “Hey, Leandra, are you in there?” She yelled, hoping her voice didn’t actually crack the way she heard it reverberate through her head.

“Of course, silly,” I heard her chime from inside. What’s taking you so long?”

Kalista then heard an unfamiliar deep male voice. “You must be Kalista. Great to meet ya.” The body that followed the voice out the door made Kalista double take.

“Umm, yes, I’m Kalista Bristow. And, you are?” The most interestingly handsome hillbilly I’ve ever seen. Wait, I’ve never actually seen a hillbilly, except on TV. His impressive muscular frame took up most of the doorway. Not wearing stereotypical overalls, he rocked the simple tank shirt and denim cutoff shorts. He wore a bandanna around his head and reminded Kalista of the red dirt music singer, Stoney LaRue.

“Well, I’m Caleb Chandler, and my buddy, Owen Guthrie, is inside going through the paperwork with your friend, Leandra.” He stuck out his hand in a greeting much faster paced than his speech.

“So, tell me, Caleb, have you ever had to enforce one of your release of liability waivers?”

“Nope, haven’t lost a city slicker yet on one of these trips.” He leaned in, raised his eyebrows, and lowered his speech an octave.  “Although, one lady did lose a rather expensive watch. Some ole flathead cat is out there swimming around a lot more slowly with all that gold in his belly weighing him down.”

Kalista offered a weak laugh. “Oh, I’m so much more at ease now. Good thing my hands and arms are bare.”

“Good deal, wouldn’t want either of you ladies losing an engagement ring or somethin’.”

“Are you fishing for my personal details, Mr. Caleb?”

Caleb turned as red as a sugar beet. “Why, no, I’m just making conversation. We are friendly in these parts.”

Kalista finally released a relieved laugh. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. That was mean, I’m sorry. Just please tell me this experience won’t be as harrowing as I think it will be.”

“I think you will have more fun than you expect. Trust me.” Caleb offered a look of pure sincerity and Kalista had no choice but to believe in him. “Now, come on inside and let’s take care of the boring paperwork so we can go have some fun.”

I look forward to sharing more of my Critter Getters with you soon. Have a great weekend folks and find a new adventure to lose yourself in!!!

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