|Fishing for cat without a net; Extreme sports, Southern-fried; [MET Edition]|
|Toronto Star. Toronto, Ont.: Jul 19, 2005. pg. E.07|
|Full Text (527 words)|
2005 Toronto Star, All Rights Reserved. )
For some, fishing means sitting in a boat on a quiet lake, listening intently as your grandfather teaches you how to bait a hook.
Others daydream of standing in a fish-strewn river, casting their line as far as their fly rods will allow.
But for some anglers in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia and other like-minded "red" states, fishing, specifically for catfish, is about diving into a swamp, shoving a hand into the nearest hole along the shore, and praying that you don't get maimed.
It's called noodling, and it may not be quality time with Grandpa, or fodder for a snore-inducing Robert Redford film, but every summer, thousands of otherwise seemingly normal people submerge themselves in murky swamp water, trying to coax massive catfish out of hiding with their bare hands.
Even if everything goes as planned - and the anglers are lucky enough not to be inadvertently dangling their hands in front of a turtle, beaver, muskrat or anything else capable of biting clean through bone - the catfish will still scarf down whatever it can get its mouth around.
Which, in the case of a full-grown male cat, could mean an entire hand.
"Once you get in their mouth good, you've got to hold on to them," said Marty Jenkins, head of Catfish Grabblers, a production company specializing in noodling, or, if you will, grabbling, DVDs.
"The fish are defending their holes while they're spawning, and when something comes into their holes, they will grab a hold of it, and thrash around for a second or two.
"But that's when they can do their damage."
But what, pray tell, does rasslin' catfish have to do with skateboarding, surfing, freestyle motorcross or other sports regularly featured in this space, you ask?
Well, according to ESPN Outdoors columnist Keith Sutton, one of the foremost experts on catfishing, blindly sticking one's hand into swamp holes attracts the same personality types as those who engage in backflipping motorcycles or flying 40-foot gaps on skateboards.
"I refer to noodling as extreme fishing," Sutton said.
"You're reaching into places you can't see, and you're never sure of what's in there. It may be a catfish, but it may also be a turtle or a muskrat or who knows what.
"I think the people that do it like the adrenaline kick you get out of extreme sports.
"It's not something that everybody does, but it is something that when they hear about it or see something on TV, they go, 'Gee whiz, look at these idiots. Let's check this out."
ATTEMPT ON HOLD This past Saturday, motorcycle distance jumper Ryan Capes was all set to make some history at Seattle's Pacific Raceway.
However, a severe wreck during practice resulted in a ruptured spleen and, of course, the indefinite postponement of the record- breaking attempt.
Capes, a four-time world distance record holder, was set to become the first person to break the 300-foot (100-metre) barrier, and reclaim the record currently held by Californian Trigger Gumm at 277.5 feet (83.25 metres).
Capes is expected to make a full recovery but has been told by doctors to stay off a bike until October.
jason_abelson @ yahoo.com