Texas mulls allowing fish 'noodling'

April 28, 2011 at 8:47 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, April 28 (UPI) -- Devotees of catfish "noodling" -- catching the large fish using only the hands -- may soon pursue the activity in Texas, lawmakers there say.

State Rep. Gary Elkins, a Houston Republican, has proposed legislation that would make noodling legal in Texas under certain circumstances, the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman reported Wednesday.

Some have raised concerns about the practice because most noodling targets one kind of catfish -- flathead catfish -- and could endanger the species. That's because many flatheads, especially large ones in the 30-60 pound class, are caught in their nesting holes, where they go to breed and lay eggs.

If noodling disrupts the natural breeding cycle, the species could be threatened and recovery of the species through hatcheries may be difficult, as the species is notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, experts said.

Missouri conducted an experimental noodling season but discontinued it, because authorities were unable to determine any direct impact on catfish populations -- but were concerned about the impact noodling might have on the population of large catfish -- the report said.

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