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Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 10:53pm

Noodling tourny heats up for East Texans

Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 10:45pm

Since it was legalized in 2011, "noodling" has taken off in our area. Now, East Texans are finding several different ways to enjoy this new found sport, including tournaments. Saturday night, Dick's Bar and Grill in Mount Selman wrapped up their 2nd ever noodling tournament.

The largest fish was caught by Team Texas. The fish weighed 70.4 pounds. Competitors said the sport is anything but easy. Noodlers catch fish with their bare hands. Leo Sjogren said he's been noodling for three years.

"It's a little sketchy at first, but once you get in there it's not so bad," said Sjogen.

Early Saturday, the sport got a little more competitive in East Texas with Dick's Bar and Grill noodling tournament. It started Friday night and wrapped up Saturday evening.

"[It's an] Adrenaline rush.  It's fun. You get together with a bunch of buddies and go out to see what you can catch," said Sjogen.

Sjogen was one of the nine teams of four who tried their luck to reel in some big prizes. Mitchell Wright is a noodler who organized the event.

"We'll find who has the biggest fish, and they'll win the trophy for the biggest fish. Whoever has the biggest five-fish-stringer wins the money off the entry fees," said Wright.

How do they know the teams really caught the fish with their hands?

"We have officials out on the water with the fisherman, and we check for hook marks," said Wright.

Sometimes it's dangerous.

"You don't know what's down there. There could be beavers, snakes or turtles," said Sjogen.

The fish bite the noodlers, so they wear gloves for protection.

"I have scars up my arm from the fish because when they bite you, it's like real heavy sand paper digging into your skin," said Wright.

Danger has not stopped the adrenaline junkies.

"You're likely to catch a bigger fish this way than with a rod and reel," said Sjogen.

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