Catfish Noodling

The European Wels catfish is the ultimate whopper of a fish. They can stretch up to ten feet in length and have been purported to weigh six hundred a seventy pounds – about three times the weight of an average noodler! These bottom-dwelling catfish are the biggest river beasts in Europe capable of darting through the water, propelled by a powerful tailfin.

They live about 20-30 years in the wild (although the oldest wild one on record was 80 years old) and have massive mouths. The Wels catfish is incredibly sensitive to chemical stimuli. They utilize barbels and olfactory buds to detect water movement and track prey (like frogs, water rats, fish, worms and even ducks), even in the absence of light.

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To some adventure anglers, the only way to catch these slippery, greenish-brown fish is by hand. A technique called “catfish noodling,” this primal showdown of man versus beast requires determination, strength, skill and courage.

But even for experienced hand-fishing anglers, taking on a massive, biting predator is a dangerous mission. To find this elusive behemoth fish, noodlers go into favorite catfish hideouts and often use their hands as lure. But rumor has it that the legendary Wels catfish can toss a person up out of the water.

But why would such a successful predator harass humans? One theory is that Wels catfish attack to defend their eggs (female Wels can lay around 30,000 eggs per kilogram of body weight).

Find out what happens when the Oklahoma noodlers head to the Ebro River in Spain to wrestle the monster Wels catfish on the premiere episode of Hooked: Extreme Noodling TONIGHT at 9 pm ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel!

Can’t wait? Here’s a sneak peak from tonight’s episode:


  1. Cloningan
    May 29, 2011, 9:52 am

    hugeeee but no taste if u cook it

  2. Josh
    Stillwater, OK
    July 7, 2014, 1:15 am

    They would not let us eat them, we was wanting to try it to see what it taste like but they said no even to a small one.