You won’t find any hotdogs or chicken livers with a “noodler,” but that doesn’t mean these anglers are fishing without bait. Using their hands as the bait and hook, handfishermen will find a suspected catfish hole, barricade possible exits the fish might escape through, stick their arm inside, and lurk around for a catfish mouth to grab. Although somewhat simple in theory, handfishing is an angling technique not for the faint of heart.
Adding to the challenge of handfishing, regulations do not allow man-made objects that attract fish, such as a barrel, box, or bathtub to be used. Handfishing anglers are also prohibited from using snorkel or scuba gear. A stringer may be used, but not until the catfish is caught by hand and is at or above the water’s surface.
Luckily, Kansas is one of a handful of states that offer this special season. With a special permit, anglers can handfish for flathead catfish in select waters from sunrise to sunset June 15-Aug. 31.
Kansas waters open to handfishing include:
● the entire length of the Arkansas River,
● all federal reservoirs from beyond 150 yards of the dam to the upstream end of the federal property, and
● the Kansas River from its origin, downstream to its confluence with the Missouri River.
Handfishing permits can be obtained for $27.50 at license vendors or online. Anglers participating in this special season will need to have a handfishing permit in addition to a regular fishing license.
To purchase a handfishing permit online, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “License/Permits.”