Some Missourians have been known for years to go noodling, or and-fishing. You stick your hand under a log or into a hole underwater and see if you can’t get a catfish to grab on. The sport’s illegal in the state now … but a bill (SB 350) by Sen. Dan Clemons (R-Marshfield) of Southwest Missouri would change that. His bill would allow enthusiasts to bag five fish per person during a two-month season.
Bill Turner with the Department of Conservation says their studies show this diminishes a vital population. Turner says noodlers target the bigger catfish, which are fewer in numbers than smaller fish in Missouri’s rivers. He also says when they’re yanked off their nests, if there are eggs in that nest, the eggs die.
Noodlers Anonymous was there — comprising young and old — to explain their passion. They say it’s a family tradition passed on through several generations, and a viable sport; no different than hunting or fishing that thousands of Missourians are allowed to enjoy.
Some members allege the Department of Conservation skewed test results to prove noodling has an adverse effect on catfish populations and that noodlers are being discriminated against.
Sen. Chuck Purgason (R-Caulfield) told the Department of Conservation that they need to work with the noodlers to put measures in place everyone can live with, that it’s not the legislatures place — most of whom have no knowledge of the sport nor the biological impact — to make a decision on the matter. He said noodlers pay taxes just like everyone else in the state and they’re entitled to enjoy their sport just like everyone else.
Supporters and opponents of the measure stated their cases for the Senate Agriculture Committee … it was a heated debate that continued in the Capitol halls after that hearing concluded.
A Senate Joint Resolution (No. 8), sponsored by Sen. Wes Shoemyer (D-Clarence), from Northeast Missouri, would put the measure to a vote of the people.
The broadcast of the story and audio from opponents, proponents and Senators are listed below.
Jessica Machetta reports [Download/listen MP3]
Howard Ramsey, noodler, testifies
Proponents, kids, testify in favor of the bill.
Fisheries & Water Resources Committee with Conservation Federation opposes bill
Gary Webb, Noodlers Anonymous, supports the bill
Conservation Department opposes bill.
Sen. Chuck Purgason calls for both sides to work together.