The increased popularity of television shows like “Hillbilly Handfishin’,” “Catfishin’ Kings,” and “Mudcats,” proves that handfishing for large catfish can be an exciting and fast-paced sport. 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.
Commonly referred to as “noodling,” handfishing consists of finding a suspected catfish hole, barricading any possible exits the fish might escape through, using your hands as bait and sticking your arm inside the hole to catch the catfish bare-handed. Although seemingly easy, this sport can prove to be very dangerous for inexperienced anglers.
Adding to the challenge of handfishing, no man-made objects that attract fish, such as a barrel, box, or bathtub may be used. Handfishing anglers are also prohibited from using snorkel or scuba gear, as well as any hooks. A stringer may be used, but not until the catfish is caught by hand and is at or above the water’s surface.
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 select license vendors or online. Anglers participating in this special season will need to have a handfishing permit in addition to a regular fishing license. New for 2013, handfishing permit-holders are no longer required to complete and submit a questionnaire following the close of the season.
To purchase a handfishing permit online, visit ksoutoors.com and click “License/Permits.”
Image courtesy Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism