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Catfish Noodling Becomes
Legal in Georgia


One would expect to be a little apprehensive about trying the newest legal method of fishing in Georgia noodling for catfish. The angler works around the perimeter of a lake or river, searching for holes in the bank or under submerged logs, proceeds to insert their hand into these areas and hope that a catfish will take them up on their tasty finger offering, latch onto the anglerís hand and allow him to pull the fish out. Noodling, sometimes referred to as grabbling, tickling, dogging or hogging, is legal in only a handful of states (Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina and Missouri) and will become legal in Georgia as of July 1, 2005 thanks to HB 301, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

Now that noodling is legal, it may arouse the curiosity of many people, but I am not sure how many will actually attempt it, says WRD Chief of Fisheries Management Chuck Coomer. I think the best advice our agency can provide is to take a friend with you when you fish and to use some caution, especially to those who are completely unfamiliar with this method, in the event that you come across something other than a catfish or have difficulty coming up for air.

House Bill 301 passed both the House and the Senate with an almost unanimous vote (only 2 votes against it in the Senate) and amends Georgia law (Code Section 27-4-37), relating to game and fish, by allowing for the taking of flathead and channel catfish by noodling. Participants can take flathead, channel and blue catfish by hand, without the aid of any device, hook, snare, net or other artificial element and without the use of any scuba equipment, air hose or other artificial breathing apparatus. Noodling will be legal from March 1 through July 15 each year.

HB 301 also legalizes spearing channel and flathead catfish only in the Savannah River basin. This practice was made legal to conform with harvest methods in South Carolina. Participants of this method may use a spear or similar instrument to harvest these species, as long as it has a wire, rope, line or other means available to recover the projectile and is secured to the person or weapon used in order to assist in the recovery of the fish. Spears may not be discharged into waters within 150 feet of others.

A Georgia fishing license is required in order to participate in noodling or spearing activities. For more information on these now legal fishing methods, contact the local WRD Fisheries Management Office or visit . To read the full version of HB 301, visit this web site .

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