Saturday, June 04, 2005

Grabbling Makes The Economist!

That bastion of enlightened political and financial commentary, The Economist, has clearly been reading my blog. Why else would they feature an article on grabbling (or "noodling", as they refer to it) just weeks after my own treatise on the subject?

Their article "In Praise of Noodling" (check out that photo!) discusses a recent legal victory for noodlers in Missouri, where a group called Noodlers Anonymous successfully lobbied for the right to fish by hand, albeit only for a six-week trial period. According to the article, noodling is only legal in 13 states, in part because there are some legitimate environmental concerns over whether it depletes populations of breeding catfish.

Missouri noodlers will need to register and report their catches to the state's Department of Conservation, which has posted a handy fact sheet and FAQ on the subject. It includes this wonderfully deadpan observation: "Some consider hand fishing to be hazardous because deep water, sharp rocks or metal may pose hazards to anglers wading, and other animals such as beaver, muskrats, and snapping turtles could also be using the same holes that catfish frequent for spawning." In short, noodling could really mess you up.

After evaluating the results of the six-week trial, the state may allow noodling on a permanent basis in the future. Hopefully the Economist article won't prompt a riverine rush of newbie noodlers -- I have a feeling those catfish have enough grabby hands to deal with already.