Using your noodle: To catch catfish, that is!

Noodling’s fast-paced action appeals to youngsters like Reed (left) and Cole Jones.

Fifty years ago, my future father-in-law, James Janette, showed me how to catch catfish by tying fishing lines to 2-liter Coke bottles and setting them loose in Cotile Lake.

Nowadays, the sport is called noodling (not to be confused with grabbing catfish by hand), and Styrofoam pool noodles are usually used instead of plastic bottles. There are different techniques for making fishing noodles, but here is a simple way to do it.

Cut the hollow pool noodles into 8-inch sections, and use a black nylon line for the string. After wrapping duct tape around the middle of the noodle, cut the line about three feet long and tie it on top of the tape (the tape helps keep the line from cutting into the Styrofoam). Some people also put reflective tape on top of the line so it will shine in a spotlight at night.

Tip up bonus

Once the line is attached, run it through the noodle’s hollow center so it hangs out the end. The noodle will lay flat on the water while fishing, but when a fish pulls down on the line, it will tip up and make it easy to see which noodles have a fish on.

A small ¼- or ½-ounce sinker is tied just above a 2-0 Eagle Claw kahle hook to keep the bait down.

Once everything is rigged, wrap the line around the noodles with the hook buried in the Styrofoam and store them in a decoy bag or laundry sack.

Whole shad, cut bait, liver, crawfish, catalpa worms, nightcrawlers and shiners are all good catfish baits. Sometimes it pays to try several different baits until you find which one the fish like best.

Noodling is a great activity for kids. Mason Jones says his boys really enjoy fishing this way.

“The kids love it,” he said. “It’s usually fast paced and it keeps them entertained. Between baiting hooks and pulling in fish, there is always something for them to do. It’s not uncommon to have a fish on within minutes of first putting out the jugs.”

Feed ‘em hot dogs

Of all things, Jones uses hot dog wieners for bait.

“I’ve tried soaking them in anise oil, vanilla extract, Kool-Aid drink mix, and just about everything else. They don’t seem to prefer one over the other,” he said. “Now, I just cut up a couple of packages of wieners into one-half or three-quarter-inch pieces, put them in a plastic container, stir in a jar of minced garlic, and let them marinate for a day or two. The fish love them and it’s cheap, easy, and doesn’t make a mess in the boat.”

Noodlers over age 17 must have a fishing license and use no more than 50 noodles per person. Each noodle must have a tag with the person’s name, telephone number and fishing license number and be rebaited at least once every 24 hours. Always check rules and regulations where you fish to make sure you comply.

Palmetto Island State Park, south of Abbeville, is a gateway to some good noodling spots. Its boat launch on the Vermilion River allows fishermen to access miles of river and the Intracoastal Waterway.

Six cabins with screened-in porches, full kitchens and fireplaces sleep eight people each. There are also RV pads with sewer, water and electricity hookups and both improved campsites with water and electricity and primitive camp sites.

A bathhouse, water playground and biking and hiking nature trail further enhance a visit to the park.

About Terry L. Jones 106 Articles
A native of Winn Parish, Terry L. Jones has enjoyed hunting and fishing North Louisiana’s woods and water for 50 years. He lives in West Monroe with his wife, Carol.

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