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Tuesday - February 6, 2018 4:01 am

'Noodling' would be explicitly permitted under proposed DNR rule change

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Among the last-minute bills racing through Wisconsin's legislature is one that has nothing to do with roads, schools, welfare or any of the other hot-button issue.

But, it does take a solid crack at catfish noodling.

Noodling is the practice of reaching into a hole and dragging out a catfish by hand. And Monday on WIZM, Mondovi Republican Treig Pronschinske said it's high time the practice becomes legal in Wisconsin.

"Everybody's looking for a new challenge," Pronschinske said. "I think this is something that people definitely clam onto."

Research shows that legalizing hand-fishing could severely deplete local catfish populations.

Catfish are very vulnerable during the nesting season (May-July) because they lay their eggs in natural cavities and then do not leave the nest. If they’re taken away, their eggs quickly die. Catfish on the nest are not vulnerable to being caught by traditional sport-angling methods.

Catfish that have migrated to smaller wading streams are especially vulnerable to "noodling." Most hand-fishers prefer these smaller rivers and streams, which can then be overharvested.

Current law does allow catching some so-called 'rough' fish by hand. Pronschinske's bill essentially just expands that to include catfish.

"We have over 3,000 miles of catfish water, along with lakes and other reservoirs, which is pretty phenomenal that we're able to have this type of opportunity in Wisconsin," Pronschinske said.

Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds is the News Director at Midwest Family Broadcasting. He covers the internecine agonies of La Crosse city hall. He really likes basketball.

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