Noodling is just a little unnerving

Will Rodden and his son Ryatt Rodden

By Jeremy Pyle
Staff Writer

When you think about fishing in Oklahoma, a lot of things may come to mind. Oklahoma is known for its wide open spaces and plenty of places to fish. It is known for the plains that are covered by lakes, ponds and streams that are home to big fish. But I don’t believe there is anything more Oklahoman than hand fishing for big catfish.

Some people call it noodling, but it requires having the intestinal fortitude to stick your hand into a hole under the water with the hope that it’s a catfish down there, not a turtle or a beaver. Not gonna lie, its a little scary, I mean, who sticks their hand in a hole under the water to pull out a fish that clearly is angry and doesn’t want to come out?

Ryatt Rodden, 8, proudly holds up his first ever noodled catfish. (Photo by David Rodden)

Meet Will Rodden. Will has been my best friend since the first time we met. We went fishing together the day we met, and within a week of meeting Will, he took me noodling for the first time. He showed me that noodling really isn’t that hard, its just a little unnerving.

Here is what you do. Get into a river or stream, really anywhere that there is a good section of muddy bank, hopefully kinda steep. Walk along the edge of the water feeling underneath for a crevice. Then, when you find the crevice, now the fun starts.

Usually, a catfish has more than one entrance to their holes that they hide in. If you only block one entrance, he will boogie out the back door. So its always helpful to have more than one person to cover the exits. Once the exits are covered, now its time to stick your hand down in there and see what is hiding. Of course, you always hope for a nice sized fish, but really you are just hoping for a fish at first.

This last weekend it was a 38 pound flathead and it was a blast. Will got on one side and we had his son Ryatt blocking the other exit hole. Ryatt is young, but that kid is fearless.

Being a young state competition wrestler, he has had his time wrangling kids that were his size, so wrestling fish almost his size comes naturally. This was the trip that saw young Ryatt noodle out his first ever catfish. There were smiles all around and it made it an extraordinary trip.

By the time, we were done, we had a 38 pound flathead catfish, about a 6 pound carp, and Ryatt had his 8 pound fish that he proudly held up for the camera.

Do you want to go noodling? How about fishing off of a dam or maybe even go out and set some jug lines? Well, I encourage you to do it. This year has been huge for fishing. And as I always say, Fishing is the best way to social distance.

As always, thanks for reading this week’s edition of Oklahoma Catfish Report, Hand Fishin’ With Jeremy.

Check us out online at or And as always send me pictures of your hand caught fish or any fish that your kids have caught recently to Lets get this next generation fishing! Its up to our generation to pass it on to the next.