Tuesday, April 26, 2005

What the Hell is "Grabbling"?

This is an obscure method of fishing that I've never actually tried, probably never will, but that always seemed fascinating and more than a little nuts. "Grabbling," or "noodling" as it's also called, is a technique practiced mostly, if not exclusively, in the American South to catch some huge catfish. It involves reaching into hollow logs, under rocks, and into holes where catfish like to lurk, grabbing them by the mouth, and then wrestling them to the shore or a waiting boat.

One variation I read about on this catfish forum takes a more strategic approach by placing structures attractive to catfish out in the river (in this case, 2'x3' wooden boxes), letting them sit overnight, and coming back the next day to grabble anyone who's taken up residence. Apparently the boxes are appealing places for female catfish to lay their eggs - catfish spawning season is prime time for grabblers, since that's when females seek out protected places for their nests.

Obviously it helps not to be too squeamish, or too worried about bodily harm, to master this crazy technique - there can be all sorts of nasty creatures lurking in under rocks and in hollow logs...snakes, gar, snapping turtles and alligators being some of the first that come to mind. Even if you're wearing gloves, which most sane grabblers do, there's definitely some risk involved...and a fat, angry catfish must be a pretty daunting opponent. (A tail in the face from a thirty-pounder would be pretty memorable.) But maybe that's all part of the thrill of grabbling. Frankly, as a Northern boy who used to think a foot-long bullhead was big, I really have no idea.

In case you were wondering, yes, there is a "Girls Gone Grabbling" video available. I haven't seen it (yet), but the pictures alone are making me see grabbling in a whole new light.


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