Noodlin' Around With the State's Law Banning the Practice of Catfishin' With Yer Bare Hands

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It's a big day for 30-year-old SMU grad Brady Knowlton, who graces the front page of this morning's Wall Street Journal -- and, now, Gawker. All because Knowlton, a Dallas oilman and new dad and world-traveling big-game hunter (per his Facebook page), likes to stick his arm into dark, wet holes and yank out catfish. Which is to say, he's a noodler -- a term familiar to anyone who's ever seen Brad Beesley's terrific doc on the subject, Okie Noodling, which bears the tagline, "No Worms, No Wimps, No Worries." Knowlton's a bare-handed catfisherman. Nothing wrong with that.

Well, actually ...

Noodling's illegal in Texas. Because, you see, it's not "sporting." There are only 17 states in which it's permitted at present, OK among 'em. Knowlton's trying to change that by getting a bill pushed through the state Lege that would allow it. But he's running up against folks who wanna keep it prohibited, if only to protect the local catfish population -- which one Texas State University biologist says ain't in no danger of being decimated by bare-handed fishin'.

To some in Texas, the ban on noodling is a sign of government run amok.

Gary Elkins, a Republican state lawmaker who represents part of Houston and sponsored Mr. Knowlton's bill in the house, says the state should have no role in telling noodlers how to go about catching their prey.

That does not mean he has any desire to try their methods, he says: "I'm not sticking my hand in a fish's mouth."

Read the whole thing here.

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