By Tom Berhens
Let me tickle your tonsils…
Mason Munoz caught a 55.5-pound blue catfish on June 8 at Lake Palestine. He did it by noodling, using only his bare hands and feet.
Noodling is done by sticking your hand under water, probing deep pockets such as under docks, overhanging lake banks, or anything else that might hold a fish. The noodler, after feeling a fish (he or she hopes-yes there are women who do it) sticks their hand down the fish’s throat and pulls him out of his hole.
Richard Ott, a fishery management biologist out of the Tyler office of the Texas Parks and Wildlife reported that Munoz’s catfish was the largest fish he has ever heard caught by noodling.
Friend Troy McNaughton played an important role in making the catch.
Munoz said the big catfish latched on to his right foot. He then used his left arm for the pivotal move of the catch as the fish latched on to it up to his elbow. Munoz, who is 5-foot-7 and weighs 145 pounds said he was noodling in about eight feet of water. The catfish was pulling him into deeper water. McNaughton had to pull Munoz out of the water as he was beginning to swallow water.
Munoz and McNaughton boated the fish which was 46.5 inches long and had 29.75 inches of girth – into their boat. Their catch was verified by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department natural resource scientist Deborah Lane.
Because it was weighed and measured Munoz was unable to release the fish back into the lake. He decided to turn it into food and will have a replica made of it at a later date. After cleaning the fish, Munoz said there was about 20-25 pounds of meat.
Munoz is still recovering from his catch. He has at least six visible cuts on his left hand as the fish bit his knuckles hard. He had swelling in his arm that took a week to subside.
Munoz warns that noodling is not for everybody. He cautions that it can be dangerous and never do it alone.
It’s time to start making plans for the upcoming hunting seasons now by applying for Drawn Hunts. There are a wide variety of high quality, supervised hunts across the state, including special drawings for both adult and youth hunters. The online system is now accepting and the first hunt category deadline is less than a month away.
Application deadlines are on the 1st and 15th of each month. Drawings are usually held the following business day. The first application deadline is August 1. Check tpwd.texas.gov for additional information on how to apply.