Senate OKs Legalizing "Noodling"

Sen. Bob Duell, R-Greenville, debates the "noodling" bill regarding a bare-handed catfishing technique during debate on May 19, 2011.
Sen. Bob Duell, R-Greenville, debates the "noodling" bill regarding a bare-handed catfishing technique during debate on May 19, 2011.

Amid the budget drama of the day, senators had a few moments of levity when they brought up the "noodling" bill, which would legalize the practice of hand-fishing for catfish.

“I personally don’t noodle, but I would defend to the death your right to do so,” said Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, author of the bill.

Dipping ones hand into freshwater and waiting for a catfish to clamp down on it is currently illegal in Texas. Doing it could net you a $500 fine. Deuell's bill requires noodlers to have a freshwater fishing licensed and freshwater fishing stamp, but allows them to practice their sport without fearing the long arm of the law.

Sen. Mike Jackson, R-Pasadena, said he was worried the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department may create a separate stamp — which fishermen would have to pay for — specifically for noodling. In response, Deuell said, “If it will bring us $3 billion, I’m for it.”

“I assure you it will not bring in $3 billion to cover our gap,” said Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville. Noodling is a common practice in his district, Nichols said, but he was unaware the practice is illegal. “People really do noodle, but sometimes they find things other than catfish,” he said. “It’s actually a quite dangerous hobby out there.”

 

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.