Mississippi’s noodling season — a.k.a. hand-grabbing or grabbling season — opened statewide Friday (May 1) and will continue through July 15.

Set to coincide with the mating season of the flathead and blue catfish, grabbling requires fishermen to reach into holes in the banks, logs, stumps and, in some waters, wooden man-made boxes to catch fish by hand.

“People wade around looking for cavities where catfish nest. These can be natural, such as hollow logs and holes in a stream or lake bank, or artificial wooden structures,” said Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Fisheries biologist and avid handgrabber, John Skains. 

“When you reach into a log, the catfish attacks, and you grab it — or maybe it grabs you — and just hang on!”

There is no size or creel limit for flathead or blue catfish, but there are some restrictions on gear. 

A rope is allowed, but with nothing attached.

It is illegal to alter any natural areas by the placing of boards, wire or any other obstructions to logs or holes for the purpose of taking fish from those sites.

It is illegal to raise any part of natural or artificial devices out of the water to aid in the capture of a fish.

Fishermen are forbidden to place any kind of structures, other than wooden, in the water for fish houses. It is illegal to put plastic or metal barrels, hot water tanks, concrete pipe, tires or other non-biodegradable materials in any public waters of the state. 

It is illegal to place any cavity-type structure, intended to be used for grabbling purposes, in all Mississippi waters of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

Any person grabbling for fish must have a valid sport fishing license.