No MO Noodling
"13% of the fish that were tagged had already been caught and harvested," said Steve Eder, of the Missouri Department of Conservation.
A normal rate of harvesting is five percent. Eder says hand-fishing is especially detrimental to catfish populations. Noodlers fish close to the shoreline and reach into hollowed logs underwater where catfish nest. Both of these areas are places fisherman can't generally access using a traditional line and hook.
But Ramsey says there's no way noodlers can contribute to the state's over-fishing.
"In the two years noodlers could fish there was only a total of 27 catfish taken," Ramsey said.
"It's not about the noodlers ... We have too many catfish being harvested ... to allow any other season than angling right now doesn't make sense," Eder said.
Now the noodlers will take their fight to the Capitol, trying to pull in a legal season through the legislature.
Both sides expect the regulations committee to vote in favor of the fisheries recommendation to end hand-fishing in Missouri. If the committee outlaws noodling, the bare-handed fisherman can still hold onto their legal fight by luring legislators into creating a state law legalizing the sport. A state law would trump any decision by the regulations committee.