Fighting for Noodling
"I've dealt with this regulation committee so many times.. it wouldn't have mattered how good a presentation we would have put on.. it was done," said Gary Webb, and member of Noodlers Anonymous
And done it was - Noodlers Anonymous has been fighting to make hand-fishing legal for seven years now.. the sport has been illegal since 1919.
"Ever since i was five or six years old I've been around noodlers.. and the stories.. and the heritage of it," Webb said.
For Gary Webb and his buddies, noodling is a sport more than anything. So, they don't really care about keeping the fish. Catch and release is fine with them. The Missouri Department of Conservation sees things a little differently. It's afraid catfish will become scarce if noodling is legalized.
"It was time to get a little bit more conservative with catfish management in Missouri.. and therefore it didn't seem reasonable to add another harvest method to the regulations," said Steve Eder, Fisheries Division Chief.
But, members of noodlers anonymous claim their catch accounts for only a small percentage of the catfish harvest. They say they're only asking for five fish per season. But for the time being, that wish won't be granted.