How Noodling Works


Announcer: Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from www.HowStuffWorks.com.

Josh Clark: Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. With me, as always is Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant.

Chuck Bryant: You can call me Rusty.

Josh Clark: No doubt, Chuck. This is the first time in eight or nine years since we've done this.

Chuck Bryant: Weeks. Everyone should know.

Josh Clark: It feels like years.

Chuck Bryant: This is the first one back from my elementary school Christmas vacation.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: It's been weeks.

Josh Clark: It's our first one in 2010, the future.

Chuck Bryant: Yes. I told Josh I'm having reentry problems like I always do. I walk to my cube and everything looks strange. It was like the first day on the job.

Josh Clark: Yeah. He's constipated.

Chuck Bryant: A little bit, actually.

Josh Clark: That's what happens when you stay away too long. You wake up, sit up stiff as a board, and you're like, "I have to work today."

Chuck Bryant: And poop.

Josh Clark: And poop.

Chuck Bryant: How was yours? Good break?

Josh Clark: Yeah. I went to the Isle of Palms in Charleston.

Chuck Bryant: How was that?

Josh Clark: Really nice. It was super cold, but it was nice. I went to Drayton Hall.

Chuck Bryant: I don't know that that is.

Josh Clark: It's the oldest intact preserved plantation of its kind on the Eastern seaboard, as far as I know.

Chuck Bryant: Do you know the difference between a farm and a plantation?

Josh Clark: The plants?

Chuck Bryant: I'm going to start 2010 with a fact. Plantations only grow one crop.

Josh Clark: Is that right?

Chuck Bryant: That's what I'm told.

Josh Clark: I would've thought it had something to do with the size.

Chuck Bryant: No. One crop! Farm, many crops!

Josh Clark: Very nice. Is "farm" Latin for "many crops"?

Chuck Bryant: I think so.

Josh Clark: There's a good fact from Mr. Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant.

Chuck Bryant: I should quit while I'm ahead and check out here.

Josh Clark: We'll give you the email address so you can say, "Congrats, Chuck." We'll give it to you at the end of this podcast, which happens to be on a little something called noodling. You may also know it as hogging, dogging, and stomping.

Chuck Bryant: Hand-fishing.

Josh Clark: That's, yeah.

Chuck Bryant: That's a popular one, actually.

Josh Clark: That's what the city folk call it.

Chuck Bryant: No, actually, I was on the YouTubes, and all those duded were calling it hand-fishing.

Josh Clark: Have you ever done this?

Chuck Bryant: No.

Josh Clark: Nor have I, and it doesn't seem like a sport that will ever become real popular because it's so thoroughly terrifying.

Chuck Bryant: Yes. Absolutely. I would never, ever do this.

Josh Clark: What we're talking about is, as Chuck said, hand-fishing, but it goes by all sorts of colloquialisms. We called it noodling in this article on www.HowStuffWorks.com. Basically, what it is, is you stick your hand into an underwater catfish nest - which they tend to nest underwater.

Chuck Bryant: And you're in the water, we should point out. You're not doing this from a boat.

Josh Clark: No. And you get the fish to bite your hand, and you pull it out, and there, you've just fished.

Chuck Bryant: You've just noodled. That's it.

Josh Clark: That's pretty much it. Of course, there's all sorts of other interesting stuff that surrounds this, which we will discus at length starting now.

Chuck Bryant: Do you know what it reminded me of?

Josh Clark: What?

Chuck Bryant: You saw the 80s "Flash Gordon" movie, right?

Josh Clark: No.

Chuck Bryant: Come on. Sure you did.

Josh Clark: I didn't.

Chuck Bryant: You didn't see "Flash Gordon"?

Josh Clark: No.

Chuck Bryant: With the Queen soundtrack and all that?

Josh Clark: Definitely not.

Chuck Bryant: Wow. Well, Timothy Dalton, in one scene, it's like a test of courage where they reach into different holes in this big rock type of thing. There's a creature in there that will bit you if you stick your hand down the wrong hole. So they go down to the elbow, and of course one of the guys got tagged on the wrist, and green ooze oozed out his wrists. It reminds me of noodling.

Josh Clark: Did he perish?

Chuck Bryant: Oh yeah.

Josh Clark: Noodling reminds me of the sand monsters in "Return of the Jedi."

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: Except it's smaller.

Chuck Bryant: Not much.

Josh Clark: No, and actually, noodling can be deadly. There's all sorts of peril that the sport is fraught with. Let's talk about the history of it first.

Chuck Bryant: Okay. Native American and its roots, evidently!

Josh Clark: Yeah. Apparently the first time it appears in western literature is in 1775. This trader historian named James Adair was traveling the south. He said, "The Native Americans have this weird thing where they get in the water." And they actually apparently used red cloth.

Chuck Bryant: To entice the fish?

Josh Clark: To go, like, "Toro," to the catfish. Then they'd use their hands to pull them out.

Chuck Bryant: I imagine the Native Americans would use whatever means they could to get the fish out, and this was one of them. And since catfish are so huge, this was a prized catch.

Josh Clark: Yeah. Apparently, like you said, there was all sorts of other methods used to fish among the Native Americans, including clubbing them over the head, using spears, bows, and arrows, and I think scaring them up with torches and then just grabbing them as they came to the surface.

Chuck Bryant: No dynamite or rods and reels.

Josh Clark: Not yet. That occurred in the 19th century.

Chuck Bryant: They also, in the article, said the Great Depression. Clearly, in the south, it was probably a goodtime to go noodling.

Josh Clark: Yeah, because it's totally, completely free. You're using nothing but your hands, your body, and whatever gas it took to get your pickup truck to the noodling hole. That's about it. Isn't that interesting? I guess it was still around, but then in the Great Depression, everybody was like, "We need to start this up again."

Chuck Bryant: Right. Then it's passed down from father to son, although there are female noodlers. They're much braver women than I am.

Josh Clark: What's that one girl's name, Misty McFarlin?

Chuck Bryant: I don't know. The champion!

Josh Clark: Yeah. She's pretty good. Her father's like this well-known noodler named Rusty McFarlin who's a plumber/noodling philosopher.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. He was in that documentary I watched.

Josh Clark: I think he's a big one.

Chuck Bryant: He likened plumbing to noodling, actually.

Josh Clark: I'll bet.

Chuck Bryant: He even said the word "turd."

Josh Clark: Did he?

Chuck Bryant: He did.

Josh Clark: I hate that word.

Chuck Bryant: It's awful.

Josh Clark: So Chuck, as you might imagine, this is a fairly rural activity.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, the rural south. Then Oklahoma is a huge noodling state.

Josh Clark: So is Missouri, as well. And it's only legal in 13 states as far as we know right now.

Chuck Bryant: Right, and that is up from just eight years ago, only four states allowed noodling.

Josh Clark: In 2001?

Chuck Bryant: Uh huh.

Josh Clark: That's nine years ago now, buddy. Welcome to the future.

Chuck Bryant: Look at me, 20th century man. Yeah, so 13 states up from four! That's a big increase.

Josh Clark: It's definitely gaining popularity, thinks in part to that documentary you vaguely referred to earlier.

Chuck Bryant: That's right.

Josh Clark: What's the filmmaker's name?

Chuck Bryant: The filmmaker's name is Bradley Beesley. I believe it's called "Okie Noodling," and he really put it on the map.

Josh Clark: Not only did he put it on the map, he established the first noodling tournament for the documentary so he could get better shots or whatever.

Chuck Bryant: As it says clearly in the document ary, "There ain't no noodling tournaments because no one's taken the initiative."

Josh Clark: Nice.

Chuck Bryant: That's what one of the guys said.

Josh Clark: Well delivered.

Chuck Bryant: So Brad said, "You know, what a great way to end this documentary. I'll start my own noodling tournament." That's exactly what he did.

Josh Clark: It's taken off from then, right?

Chuck Bryant: Oh yeah.

Josh Clark: So, Chuck, we talked about the generalities. You stick your hand in a hole. Let's get a little more into it.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. Why would a catfish bite onto your hand? What's the reason?

Josh Clark: Actually, what you're doing is reaching your hand into a catfish nest where there are thousands of eggs waiting to be hatched.

Chuck Bryant: Exactly.

Josh Clark: What I find interesting is you're not catching the female. The female comes and lays the eggs. Then the male comes along and chases her off and takes over the duty of protecting the eggs, so you're catching males.

Chuck Bryant: That's what they're doing. They're guarding when they come after your hand. Apparently, how you noodle is you wiggle your fingers around to get their attention.

Josh Clark: Which may be the reason it's called noodling. Your fingers look like wet noodles.

Chuck Bryant: That's true, although no one is quite sure.

Josh Clark: No, they're not. It remains a mystery. You stick your hand in. The catfish goes to bite you. Sometimes it'll nibble, and you can kind of get a grasp on it. Sometimes it will try to swallow your entire arm.

Chuck Bryant: Ideally - it sounds odd to say that, but I think that's what you're looking for.

Josh Clark: Either way, once your hand makes entry into the catfish's maw, you wiggle it down as far as you can to the gills, and hook the gills from the inside out. Then all of a sudden, now you have a really firm grasp on that catfish. Plus, when you have your hand in something's gills, it tends to really focus on that and freak out a little bit. Then you pull it to the surface, and there you have it. You've got your catfish. As we said, this thing is kind of fraught with peril. The first thing you're going to encounter is the teeth, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. They're not super sharp, but there are lots and lots of them. They likened it to sandpaper in the article. Actually, this was written by my good friend, Debbie Ronca.

Josh Clark: Is that freak girl?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, www.FreakGirl.com. She's about the least likely person on Earth who would ever write an article on noodling.

Josh Clark: She did a good job with it.

Chuck Bryant: That's the great part about our job. I'm writing about giving a facial at home, and she's writing about noodling. We should switch articles occasionally, it seems like.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: But anyway, Debbie wrote this. She did a great job. She says it's like sandpaper on your arm, but they said it starts twisting and turning when it's on your arm and it can cut you up a little bit.

Josh Clark: Right. I read a quote from a noodler that said, "Once they start spinning, it can plum rub your hide to the bone." Something like that.

Chuck Bryant: That's good.

Josh Clark: That's your first problem. This catfish whose gills you have your hand in is rubbing its sandpaper teeth all over your wrist. That can tend to hurt. Also, some catfish can get pretty big.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. I mean 40, 60, or 80 pounds.

Josh Clark: That's a flathead. The blue cats get even bigger, upwards of 100 pounds I believe. If you were in water that's chin deep, it can pull you under, hold you under, and you are a drowned noodler.

Chuck Bryant: You know, in the documentary, there was one of the legendary guys. I'm not sure how this works, but the highways where the lake and the river is now over the highway, so I guess it's just poor planning or something. These old broken roads, basically, were in the water. They will go under the broken asphalt because that's where the prime lair is, and they will get trapped under there sometimes and die.

Josh Clark: Yeah. Apparently, it's also something of a pastime when you're searching a lake for a drowned person. People will also noodle while they're looking for the dead person.

Chuck Bryant: That's called killing two birds, my friend.

Josh Clark: Exactly. Every once in a while, somebody who's looking for a drowned person and noodling in the meantime will end up drowning themselves and getting found.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. They do this in rivers, too. One guy drowned from the current sweeping him under a beaver den.

Josh Clark: Which is why noodling is not a sport to ever be engaged in alone. You always want noodling buddies.

Chuck Bryant: You've got to have partners, spotters, because once you bring the fish up, generally your spotter will help remove the fish from your arm and get it into the boat or on land, if you're by the banks.

Josh Clark: Right. Or if the fish pulls you under, it's good to have a 200-pound friend to pull you back above water. Also, they help barricade the way so if the catfish tries to escape, it'll just bump into their legs, or something like that.

Chuck Bryant: Right. There's one funny part in the documentary where they're interviewing these two guys who are chest deep. There's only two dudes in the scene, and they talk about, "Do you ever worry about your buddy when he's under there for a long time?" He says, "We worry about him sometimes. When it's been a long time, that's usually when he pops up!" When he says that, the guy pops up from underwater.

Josh Clark: Nice.

Chuck Bryant: Like he didn't even know.

Josh Clark: No editing?

Chuck Bryant: No editing. He didn't know there was a third person there, but he was noodling underfoot during the interview.

Josh Clark: Because you can drown, chin deep water is kind of dangerous, but you have to go where the catfish are.

Chuck Bryant: Sometimes you dive down underwater completely, and sometimes your head is above water.

Josh Clark: Another danger to noodling - and if you're picking up that this is kind of a dangerous sport, you're a very sharp person. We should probably take the time to say that How Stuff Works does not recommend you try noodling alone or as an inexperienced person with other inexperienced noodlers.

Chuck Bryant: I'll just say at all.

Josh Clark: Sure. Go ahead.

Chuck Bryant: At all.

Josh Clark: You can also every once in a while stick your hand into a catfish nest that turns out to be a beaver's dwelling, and underwater snake, muskrats.

Chuck Bryant: Apparently they're mean.

Josh Clark: Snapping turtles are real bad, too. They'll take a finger off. If you encounter one of those guys, you want to take off. As Ronca says, "Get out of there."

Chuck Bryant: Unless you're Jerry Rider, the legendary noodler that was on "Dave Letterman." He is a big snake guy too, so when he sees a snake, he sees that as an opportunity, not a bad thing.

Josh Clark: Oh yeah? So he grabs the snake?

Chuck Bryant: He'll grab snakes. He bit him a few times. He's like, "See there? I'm bleeding from these three spots." They asked him what they felt like. He said, "Just like a hypodermic needle."

Josh Clark: Yeah. Of death!

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. He said, "I'll have him tamed pretty soon."

Josh Clark: So he catches them and tames them?

Chuck Bryant: That's what he said. He's a snake guy.

Josh Clark: Wow. Jerry Rider's snake circus!

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. He's the toughest guy I've ever seen.

Josh Clark: He sounds pretty tough, actually. Normally, unless you're Jerry Rider, you don't want to put your hand in a snake whole, because most snakes who live underwater or near the water are deadly poisonous. Most noodlers will tell you they can tell a catfish nest from any other kind of nest just by feeling the outside of the nest.

Chuck Bryant: Sure. Experience!

Josh Clark: The reason for that is the opening will be sandy and clean, and pretty compact because once the male comes in and is guarding the eggs, he's just moving back and forth constantly, keeping sand and algae off the eggs and out of the nest. The male catfish keep a pretty tidy nest, apparently.

Chuck Bryant: You could not pay me any amount of money to do this. I get a little weirded out. I go trout fishing in the northern Georgia Mountains and I'm up to my waist in beautiful, clear mountain water.

Josh Clark: Where you can see what's going on.

Chuck Bryant: Where I can see what's going on, and my head is sti ll in a pivot when I'm near the bank because I just know I'm going to look up, and a snake's going to drop on my head. These are muddy riverbanks.

Josh Clark: Yeah. That's where catfish dwell. Actually, the fact that noodling has become such a popular sport; noodles are kind of barometers of the health of a waterway, depending on how you look at it.

Chuck Bryant: Oh really?

Josh Clark: The Army Corps of Engineers loved to keep a tidy river way, and so do most trout anglers because you can see what you're doing. Trout generally live in clean water, but catfish like it murky, shady, and muddy. That's how a waterway is naturally. They're not naturally clean or tidy. Apparently the Army Corps of Engineers fell asleep at the switch for a couple of decades in the 70s and maybe 80s, and basically let the Mississippi Delta go to pot, unless you're a catfish fisherman. Then the catfish population came back. The fact that noodlers are finding catfish easily is an indicator of the health of the waterway, but there's also a lot of controversy over noodling.

Chuck Bryant: We have to mention this.

Josh Clark: Apparently it's a cultural thing. Most noodlers, like Chuck said, it's legal in southern states and Midwestern states. It's a very rural activity. Most city folk aren't going to go stick their hand in an underwater hole and hope a catfish bites their hand.

Chuck Bryant: Do you know why? One of the guys in the documentary addresses it.

Josh Clark: Why?

Chuck Bryant: He says because they're on golf courses.

Josh Clark: That's an excellent point.

Chuck Bryant: It's a valid point.

Josh Clark: Chuck and I are fairly citified, and of course, neither one of us would ever do this.

Chuck Bryant: No.

Josh Clark: Part of the reason why noodlers are sort of looked down upon by regular anglers is that it's a rural/city head collision, I guess you could say.

Chuck Bryant: Sure, because there's plenty of city types that grab their trout boots and go out on the weekends and go trout fishing, and that kind of thing.

Josh Clark: There's also an environment concern which may or may not be true.

Chuck Bryant: Right. Because clearly what you're doing is pulling out a catfish that's guarding a big stash of eggs, and many times, you don't return that fish back to the water. You'll keep it and eat it for food, because catfish is good eating.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: Even when they do return these fish to the water, which they sometimes do - just like catch-and-release fishing, there's a proper way to do it, and they get beat all to heck on the shore. They think they might not survive from just massive injury.

Josh Clark: Right. Like you were saying, you're removing this catfish from its role of protecting its eggs, which means that once that catfish is gone, all manner of predators go, "I'm going to go eat me thousands of catfish eggs." How could that not logically have an impact - a huge impact - on the population of the catfish?

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: Here's how. Because most people don't stick their hands in catfish nests in the hopes that it will bite them and they can pull it out and eat it.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. It has gained in popularity, but it is still a fringe sport.

Josh Clark: We're talking maybe 1,000 people across the country that do this, maybe 3,000.

Chuck Bryant: That's why there's been no studies. They can't prove anything because no one wants to put any money into a noodling study.

Josh Clark: Right. I think we should study it to see if it does have an impact. In the meantime, most fish and game, DNR departments in the various states where it is legal, are hedging their bets and keeping the number of catches a noodler can make from May to August, which is spawning season, it's three in Missouri. I think that's the average.

Chuck Bryant: That's lower than if you're just a hook-and-line angler.

Josh Clark: You can get ten in that state per day. Three per day and ten per day, depending on if you're an angler. Noodlers, of course, find this unfair, but again, there haven't been any studies. I think three's an arbitrary number, probably.

Chuck Bryant: I wonder if anyone's ever caught a noodler.

Josh Clark: A dead noodler probably.

Chuck Bryant: Like hooked a noodler underwater.

Josh Clark: Apparently there was this boy in the 19th century who went noodling, and he got held under by the catfish he caught. I guess his grip was so tight that a day or so later, they found the boy and the catfish dead side by side on a sand bar.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: Yeah. Hand in mouth still.

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: Isn't that something? What a way to go. If you're a noodler that is the way you die.

Chuck Bryant: That is what Jerry Rider said. He said, "I'll noodle till I die, unless noodling kills me." He shouldn't have said "unless." He probably meant "especially if" noodling kills me.

Josh Clark: Exactly.

Chuck Bryant: Should we talk about the tournament?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: We mentioned it briefly. It is the biggest North American hand-fishing tournament. I thought it was the only one, but apparently it is the one. It's the Okie Noodling tournament. That's what it's called.

Josh Clark: Pretty straightforward.

Chuck Bryant: It's in July. It's at Bob's Pig Shop in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. There's prizes up to $2,000.00, I think. There's different categories, like fish of the day, then total poundage of your three.

Josh Clark: Stringer.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: There's also natural and scuba noodling. Scuba noodling is exactly what it sounds like.

Chuck Bryant: I imagine they're frowned upon. I didn't get any word on that.

Josh Clark: I would think so. So is gaffing, which is noodling with a hook, because basically, you're a wuss.

Chuck Bryant: Is that what that means?

Josh Clark: Pretty much. Yeah, because you're not sticking your hand in there! You're sticking a hook in their gills and pulling them out. No. 1, you're immediately doing more damage to them, I imagine, but you're not using your hand. It's hand-fishing, not hook-fishing.

Chuck Bryant: They even frown upon gloves, dude, so this is how tough these guys are.

Josh Clark: Yeah. They frown upon gloves because you can't tell from touching whether it's a snapping turtle, or a muskrat, or a catfish. Also, they can get snagged on things underwater and keep you under. Yeah. These are tough fellas - and women.

Chuck Bryant: Yes, Josh. There is a DVD series even called "Girls Gone Grabblin." I wonder if that's a typo.

Josh Clark: I don't think that's a typo. There's been some records. Apparently, every year somebody sets a record at the Okie Noodling contest. What's cool is these people aren't al in the same hole. They're all over the state, as long as the fish is caught within Oklahoma, within a 24-hour period from 7:30 p.m. on Friday to 7:30 p.m. when they're weighed on Saturday. There is a gentleman's agreement to not go into the same noodling hole that some other people are already in.

Chuck Bryant: It's like a fishing spot. Same deal!

Josh Clark: That's pretty much it. Oh, the fish has to be live when it's weighed. Other than that, that's pretty much it. The most recent record was set this past July, 2009. Its 2010 now, the future. It was 68.6 pounds by a guy named John Bridges, and he had a stringer, the three fish that you're allowed to catch in that 24-hour period.

Chuck Bryant: He won that one too?

Josh Clark: I don't know if he won it. I don't see how he didn't, because he had another fish that he caught that was almost the same weight as part of his stringer. I imagine he won the stringer that year.

Chuck Bryant: Josh, do me a favor. Close your eyes and picture a 66-opund catfish up to your elbow.

Josh Clark: Sixty-eight point six.

Chuck Bryant: Can you imagine that?

Josh Clark: Don't you think I've learned by now the hard way not to close my eyes when you tell me to?

Chuck Bryant: Good point.

Josh Clark: Yeah. That's a big ol' catfish.

Chuck Bryant: Do you like to eat catfish?

Josh Clark: I'll eat it.

Chuck Bryant: Okay.

Josh Clark: Sure. I'm not that citified.

Chuck Bryant: I was just, you know.

Chuck Bryant: Of course. A nice beurre blanc sauce!

Josh Clark: Right. Thank you, Chuck. Catfish, that 68.6, that's huge. That's definitely not as big as they get. Every rural area has a legend of a catfish that's like 250 pounds. Did you ever see that "King of the Hill' where I think he was trying to catch General Sherman? No, that was "The Simpsons."

Chuck Bryant: Was it?

Josh Clark: Yeah. I think they called it General Sherman or something like that. It was this huge catfish, and Homer and Marge were on like a save-our-marriage retreat, and Homer sneaks out to catch the fish.

Chuck Bryant: I think I did see that one.

Josh Clark: Hilarity ensues.

Chuck Bryant: That's good stuff.

Josh Clark: Yeah. I think it was Season 5 or something.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, but you do definitely hear the rumors. Like Hogzilla. It'

s the same thingJosh Clark: Is it? Where's that, Arkansas?

Chuck Bryant: You'll just hear rumors about, like, several hundred pounds.

Josh Clark: It sounds like Arkansas.

Chuck Bryant: I think it's real. I don't know about Hogzilla, but the huge catfish definitely are.

Josh Clark: Chuck, let's end this by mentioning that noodling is not necessarily exclusive to North America.

Chuck Bryant: No, it's not, Josh. Since 1934, there's a tournament in Nigeria - or a festival I guess you could call it.

Josh Clark: Are you going to take this one?

Chuck Bryant: Should I?

Josh Clark: Sure.

Chuck Bryant: The Arungu Fishing Festival.

Josh Clark: No. Argungu. That's how I take it.

Chuck Bryant: That's exactly right.

Josh Clark: Argungu. That's a difficult one.

Chuck Bryant: It is.

Josh Clark: That's why we live in Georgia.

Chuck Bryant: Well, this is a one-hour long contest, which is kind of cool.

Josh Clark: But I think you can catch a fish any way you can, right?

Chuck Bryant: It is hand-fishing, but you can use nets. I think you can't use hooks and poles. In 2008, the winning fish - you were right, Josh - was 140 pounds.

Josh Clark: Right. And they take their hand-fishing very seriously in Nigeria because they found out that the winning fisherman in 2008, Bello Yakub, they found out he brought a dead fish from another river and said, "Oh, look what I caught," and they arrested him.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: He was arrested for fraud in a fishing contest.

Chuck Bryant: I want to know how you sneak a 140-pound fish into a river.

Josh Clark: That's probably how he got caught. I mean, you can't. You can't do it very covertly, so somebody saw him and was like, "Bello Yakub cheated."

Chuck Bryant: Ratted him out.

Josh Clark: And they went, "Chink. Chink," and threw the book at him.

Chuck Bryant: Those were handcuffs, by the way, just so people understand what that sound effect was all about.

Josh Clark: So yeah, that's noodling.

Chuck Bryant: I don't think there's anything else to add.

Josh Clark: That wasn't too bad for our first one after eight years.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, on a Monday morning. Yeesh.

Josh Clark: So if you want to learn more about noodling, you can read Debbie Ronca's riveting tale in article form by typing "noodling" into the handy search bar at www.HowStuffWorks.com, which of course, leads us to listener mail.

Chuck Bryant: Before we read listener mail, we're going to send a special shout out to our friend, Chance, and his little sister, who have had a really rough go of it over the holidays. We're not going to get all into it, but Chance did say it would really make his and his little sister's day if we said hello. So we're saying, "Hi, and hang in there, guys."

Josh Clark: Yeah, and Happy New Year to you.

Chuck Bryant: Happy New Year. So having said that, I'm going to call this "We Are Frauds, and We've Been Found out."

Josh Clark: No [censored].

Chuck Bryant: "Hey Josh and Chuck, allegedly. I am writing you a very distressed 15-year-old boy living in northern Illinois. The reason for my distress is that after closely examining the last several podcasts, I can come to the conclusion that your podcast is a sham." A 15-year-old! He's just figuring this out. "The evidence for this is that after listening to one of your podcasts on healthcare, I noticed that the voice quality seemed different, leading me to believe that you two never actually sit down and do the podcast together, but the podcast is merely a series of recordings and phrases cleverly put together through some sound editing equipment."

Josh Clark: It's really just a series of Chuck's, right?

Chuck Bryant: Right, and then Jeri just makes it all happen. "After listening to that podcast, it made me wonder, and I went through other ones and noticed that you two never skip over each other when you talk." Not true. We are talking over each other right now as we speak.

Josh Clark: We are right now, yes.

Chuck Bryant: "To further reinforce this suspicion, I recently viewed the webcast on December 2nd, and Chuck was disappearing into the background of the drape." You know sometimes how the blue screen will mess up, and I'll disappear. That's what that is. "If this is just an honest technical mistake, or if this is the work of clever video and audio synching gone wrong, please write back to confirm your existence. Until then, I have no choice but to assume there is no podcast, but merely a series of recordings played with editing equipment. From, Zach."

Josh Clark: Zach, I think you would very much appreciate one of our fellow podcasters here at www.HowStuffWorks.com called Stuff They Don't Want You to Know. It's about conspiracy theories. I think it'd be right up your alley. You can find that free on iTunes. Right, Chuck?

Chuck Bryant: Uh huh.

Josh Clark: And of course, you can always find us for free on iTunes, which is probably where you found us.

Chuck Bryant: To begin with.

Josh Clark: Yeah. If you want to send us an email accusing us of fraud, we wouldn't be the least bit surprised. You can wrap that up and address it to StuffPodcast@HowStuffWorks.com.

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