Animal Planet has greenlit a series called “Hillbilly Handfishin’,” about an Oklahoma man who teaches city dwellers the excitement catching catfish without the aid of a hook or fishing line, according to Inside TV. The practice is more commonly called “noodling” or, more accurately, “noodlin’.” From the delightful Wikipedia page for noodling:
Noodling is fishing for catfish using only bare hands, practiced primarily in the southern United States. Many other names, such as catfisting, grabbling, graveling, hogging,dogging, gurgling, tickling and stumping, are used in different regions for the same activity. Noodling is currently legal in eleven of the fifty United States.
Whoa, “catfisting” is legal in eleven states? That’s great news for your lonely aunt.
Noodling has also been featured in the New York Times on more than one occasion (2007, 2006). It requires the fisherman to submerge himself in a river, stick his arm into a muddy hole, and hope for the best:
Catfish are hardly the only creatures that burrow or inhabit holes in rivers or lakes. Beavers are common residents, as are snapping turtles and deadly cottonmouth snakes. [NYT]
So basically, it’s not so much a sport as it is a glory hole for your arm.