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Noodling for a Catfish Dinner

May 21, 2011
In which 17 states is Noodling legal?

In which 17 states is Noodling legal?

Up until last Thursday the practice of noodling was illegal in the state of Texas, carrying a fine of up to $500 for anyone caught! 500.00 US dollars?  For hand fishing?  How ridiculous!  Of course, that didn’t stop Texas Southerners from the practice, mostly, I’m suspecting, because it is legal in 17 other states, including neighboring states of Arkansas and  Louisiana.  Lots of young men still tried their luck at “Hillbilly Hand Fishing”, which is the game of catching catfish by using only ones hands.  Now, they don’t need to fret one iota over emptying their billfold if caught hand fishing.

Senator Bob Deuell, who represents the east Texas community of Greenville, spoke in defense of this sport, saying “I personally don’t noodle, but I would defend to the death your right to do so” … spoken like a true Texan! Or Hillbilly Hand Fisherman, which he states he is not.  On the other hand, I’m thinking, if I were prone to go illegal noodling prior to the decision to make it legal and I was a public figure, I sure wouldn’t admit I enjoyed the sport!  But, benefit of the doubt, I’ll give him trust, and state he is not a noodler!

Anyway, this past Thursday after legislation approved noodling as a legal fishing method the age-old Southern tradition can now, be legally enjoyed by the men folk in Texas.  They can go out and noodle to their heart’s content.  For me, I’d rather sink a fishing line fitted with a red and white bobbing-thingamabob and watch it bobble up and down while I scream “got one!”.

Southern Catfish Fry:

Batter Ingredients

2 c. cornmeal
1 c. flour
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. hot paprika (or 1 tbsp. paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper)
3 pounds catfish
2 quarts vegetable or peanut oil

Cut catfish into strips about three (3) inches and soak in salt water (brine of 1 quart water with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt) for one hour in fridge.

Heat oil to 350 degrees F  (175 degrees C) in deep fryer.

Combine all dry ingredients, dredge catfish into dry mixture, dust off excess coating by giving each piece a light shake.
Use slotted spoon to lower fish into hot oil and deep fry until golden brown – about five (5) minutes.
(Hint: do not overcrowd fish in deep fryer otherwise the oil temp. will drop and the fish will soak up too much oil)
  1. Great recipe! While noodling is legal where I am, I still get my catfish the old fashioned way, I buy it at Kroger.

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