The Lee Side: Don’t poke it with a stick

This summer is nearing an end and as I think back over the last few months, I am reminded of some ‘new’ early summer sports I was introduced to.

Posted on 8/17/13

By Lee Coleman

Fishing has always been a passion for me going all the way back to my childhood when we would sneak some of Mama’s white bread and go to the community pond and catch bream with bread balls.

On those hot afternoons when the fish would take their naps, we would escape to a thicket of oxygenating Georgia pine trees next to the pond and eat wild muscadines right off the bush until we were green in the face.

Now, I find out there is a new craze to catch catfish they call noodling.

A pal told me all you had to do was wade into a lake or river and find a great big old rock, log or brushpile and reach under it and feel around until you find a giant catfish and snatch it out of the water by hand.

I have caught plenty of cats in my life the old fashioned way but I don’t remember any of them being so docile and willing to be just airlifted out of the water.

Just for giggles, he said, you have to be patient and wait for Mr. Tommy Cat to bite down on your hand with rows of tiny teeth intact and then grab anything, including eyeballs, and jerk the fish out of his underwater abyss.

Does that mean if the catfish gets off your ‘hand hook’ you end up with a pair of dislodged eyeballs in your hand?

All I could think about was reaching under said object and grabbing something a tad more ornery than a catfish.

Like a big, angry snake or a misguided beaver.

Don’t worry, he said, you can feel the difference in the texture of a catfish and a snake but watch out for a beaver. They will bite your finger off.

Dang, you mean I can go fishing with you and come away complete with a set of catfish eyeballs, a welp from a catfish bite, a possible encounter with a snake and for the grand prize, the loss of a finger or two from the bite of a annoyed, bucktooth beaver?

The summer got better. Rattlesnake hunting. Really? What do you do? Walk up to a big rattler and poke it with a stick so the fight would be on?

In some towns, they have festivals for this ‘sport’. Does that mean lawnmower racing is a sanctioned NASCAR event?

I saw a photo of a man who caught a rattlesnake the length of a small house.

He told folks he just reached in the hole, snagged it and pulled the snake out.

To me, that is like someone wanting to jump out of a perfectly good airplane with only a giant piece of nylon and some twine attached to their back.

Here’s the clincher for me. Folks told me rattlesnake meat is ‘sum go-o-od eatin’. It tastes like chicken they said.

Sorry, I am not going to walk up to a singing rattlesnake and poke it with a stick just because I have a taste for some of the Colonel’s famous yard bird.

A herpetologist (snake expert) once told me he let a poisonous water moccasin bite him so he could share the experience with his students.

He said it felt like getting hit with a baseball bat. And, he added, it made him pretty sick.

Talk about your positive role models.

I love the outdoors and camping and fishing but I don’t understand voluntarily testing fate.

I interviewed Aron Ralston, the hiker who fell and was wedged behind a rock and ended up amputating his arm with a pocketknife to survive.

During our conversation, I inquired about the pain he felt while removing his arm at the elbow.

Simple answer. Put your hand and fingers in a car door jam and have someone slam the door on it as hard as they can.. Okay.

Then multiply that pain by 10,000. I thought I was going to faint right in front of him.

I respect thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. I truly appreciate the adventurous spirit in people but if it’s all the same to you, I’ll just take my stick and mosey on back to higher ground and not reach into any dark holes or under any rocks or logs today.

I’ll have the chicken please.

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