For Reals?

Fish bitin' today?
Creative Commons License photo credit: anyjazz65

I love news aggregate services. If it weren’t for Google news, I would have missed this totally awesome story in the Wall Street Journal: Long Arm of the Law Penalizes Texans Who Nab Catfish by Hand. I looked again at the title, re-read the source, and said in the vernacular of my three-year-old granddaughter, “For reals?!?”

Sometimes I can’t get my head wrapped around my impression of living in Texas with the reality of living in Texas. My impression is that Texans don’t like big-government, taxes, and laws. This is a state whose legislature meets only every two years and recently passed a bill legalizing guns on campus! The bill is on the desk of the governor so there’s still hope it won’t be signed into law.

The reality is that Texas has some really weird laws on the books. Currently, this law is a Class C misdemeanor and carries a $500 fine with it. Now I grew up fishing and it never even occurred to me that people would have any luck catching fish by hand! The sport (?) is called noodling.

The noodler ventures to where the fish, usually catfish, dwell and stick their arms into the dark holes. The catfish chomps down on the noodlers arm and he wrangles it to the surface. We’re not talking about a 15-inch fish, like in trout; we’re talking about big-ass catfish, like 60 pounders!

I must confess, I don’t really understand why people like to fish for catfish in the first place. I was raised that you clean what you catch. Have you ever cleaned a catfish?!? They’re nasty and they have rows of teeth! Now I’m really entering onto sacrilegious ground, but I consider catfish bottom-feeders and, like organ meat, some things are best uneaten.

In true Texan style, there is a huge debate about this law. Those in favor of retaining the law claim that it protects the catfish population. For reals, people?!? I come from the state of über-environmental laws, and even catfish are not protected there.

There are 17 states where it is legal to noodle, including Oklahoma. In fact, they are the home to the Okie Noodling Tournament being held July 9, 2011 at the City Park in Pauls Valley…for reals.

Thursday bonus: You have to see it to believe it!

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