Sims Catfish

11-year-old Zee Sims says this catfish, estimated between 22 and 24 pounds, is the largest he has ever caught while “noodling”.

Any time is a good time for noodling according to 11-year-old Zee Sims, who caught an estimated 22- to 24-pound catfish using the unconventional method.

While out with family at an undisclosed location on Lake Ellsworth, Sims, a sixth-grader at MacArthur Middle School, and his uncle Ryan Cates, pulled the large fish from underneath a rock near the boat ramp using a method known around Oklahoma as “noodling”, a style of fishing that involves placing your bare hands into a known catfish hole and feeling around until you get a bite. After the whiskered bottom feeder latches on to your hand, you drag the catfish out, clean, fry, eat, rinse and repeat.

Sims was taught by his uncle and has noodled since an early age. He prefers to first irritate the fish before sticking his hand in the its mouth and grabbing the ‘cat’s lower lip to yank it out the hole.

“It’s an adrenaline rush, it makes it fun catching big fish,” the junior noodler said. “I’m trying to talk one of my friends into doing it, but they’re pretty skeptical about it.”

The 4’6, 81-pound middle schooler says he goes fishing every day, only stopping for interviews with local papers, and plans on teaching the skill to his younger cousin, Colton.

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