2 arrested for ‘noodling’ at Lake of the Ozarks. What is it, and why is it illegal in Missouri?

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 5:03 PM CDT
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LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. (KY3) - Fishing is popular here at the Lake of the Ozarks.

“That’s the beauty of Lake of the Ozarks, is, we have a number of fish species that attract anglers from all across the country," said Missouri Department of Conservation’s Protection Division Chief, Randy Doman.

There are three big types of fish that people really try to catch.

“Certainly crappie and large mouth bass are the two big ones, but also catfish," Doman added.

Female catfish typically nest with their eggs in late June or July, making them harder to catch.

“They’ll go into a natural cavity, such as a root wad, or a log, or underneath a rock bluff, and they’ll sit there for a long time and they’ll guard their eggs, they’ll lay eggs, and they stay there and they’re not susceptible to the traditional hook and line form of fishing," Doman said.

They are susceptible to hand fishing, or a practice called ‘noodling.’

It’s allowed in some states, but not Missouri.

That’s why Russell Wallis and Samuel Phillips, both from Camden County, were arrested and charged by the Department of Conservation, after what the department called a ‘lengthy investigation.’

“The reason we don’t allow hand fishing in Missouri is we want to protect those vulnerable, usually mature females, from over harvest," said Doman. "Because, if they’re harvested off the nest, the eggs are gonna die and our studies have shown that could lead to long term population impacts if left unchecked.”

Depending on how many fish are taken from the water by hand fishing, someone charged with that crime could face hundreds to thousands of dollars in fines, lose their fishing privileges, or face jail time.

The MDC says if you see hunting or fishing violations to report them by calling Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111.

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