There’s something about catching catfish that has always been exciting to me. As kids cutting our teeth on fishing, my brother, two cousins and I spent many summer nights setting out catfish hooks on Molido Creek in back of our Goldonna homes.
Part of the intrigue was camping out down by the creek in the woods while we tended our lines. It didn’t matter that the catfish we caught were bullheads – “mudcats” to us – it was thrilling to approach a pole, shine the light on it and see it whipping around indicating a fish had taken the bait.
Later, we graduated to setting trotlines and stout drop lines in bigger waters, those of Saline Bayou into which our little Molido emptied. The fish we caught were channel, blue and flathead catfish, further up the scale than lowly mudcats.
Had “jug” fishing been invented back then, this would have opened a whole new world to the four of us. Jug fishing involves tying baited fishing lines to milk or beverage bottles, tossing them into the lake and chasing them down when a catfish takes the bait.
Today, not nearly as many catfishermen rely on jug fishing because of a new and more exciting technique has been developed using a cheap and simple device kids use to keep afloat in the swimming pool. They’re called “floaties” or “noodles” and when converted to catfishing gear can be extremely effective. Noodles are long and hollow and constructed of closed foam for floatation.
Fellow outdoor writer and good friend, Keith Sutton, who lives in Arkansas, goes by the nickname of “Catfish”, and with good reason. He’s fished for catfish all over the U.S. as well as in other countries and is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on catfishing. Noodling for catfish is one of his favorite methods of putting fish in the boat.
“I buy several of the five-foot long floaties and cut them into three equal lengths,” Sutton explained. “Then I drill a hole side-to-side in the noodle four inches from one end and large enough to accept a piece of drinking straw as long as the floatie is wide. This allows the line to go through without slicing into the foam when a good fish bites.”
In order to double his pleasure, Sutton ties a four-foot section of line securely to the noodle, threads it through the drinking straw and to the end, he ties a three-way swivel.
“I tie a six-foot section of line to one eye of the swivel, add a sinker and hook and to the other swivel eye, I add a two-foot line and hook. This allows me to fish two different depths and when the fish are biting, you can often catch two at a time,” he noted.
“For night fishing, I add a piece of reflective tape to each noodle that shows up easily when light hits it.”
Sutton uses a unique bait that attracts catfish more than most others. He offers the fish a hot dog.
“I’ll buy the cheapest wieners I can find, cut them into chunks and marinate them in powdered strawberry drink mix and garlic. This is a killer bait for catfish,” Sutton explained.
A local catfisherman who uses noodles for catfish on Lake D’Arbonne, added another wrinkle to using this method to catch fish.
“To keep from having to chase the noodles down when it’s windy, I tie on a heavy weight that anchors the line to the bottom, keeping the devices from floating away,” he explained.
Want to have some fun and catch more catfish this summer? It’s easy; all you have to do is “use your noodle.”