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Unusual Fishing Techniques From Around the World

Fishing is an ancient practice that dates back tens-of-thousands of years. Humans have come up with many unconventional methods to catch fish over time, adapted around geography, culture, and necessity. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most unusual fishing techniques around the globe, how they happen, where they happen, and why they happen.

A man reeling in a fish.

Catfish Noodling

Also known as catfish hogging, dogging, grappling or stumping, this style of fishing is primarily used in the South and Midwest. The noodler will venture out into the water and, using their hand or foot, probe rocks, logs, or caves in the hopes of finding a catfish nest. Once a catfish has been located, it's game on. Noodling makes it so you can catch a catfish without traditional fishing gear, but certainly not without a fight. Oftentimes, the noodler will be left exhausted, bruised, and bleeding by the end.

You might already be familiar with the art of catfish noodling, given that it has been popularized through the growth of social media. However, this practice is far from new. In fact, it was first documented by James Adair in 1775, an Irish immigrant, trader and historian. He talked about his experiences with different Native American tribes, watching them manhandle catfish in the rivers around South Carolina. It wasn't until the Great Depression, however, that noodling became a routine practice for families struggling to provide for their families.

A man holding up a catfish after catching it with his bare hands and no fishing gear.


This next style of fishing has been adapted from a popular technique that you're probably well aware of - but with a twist. Skishing is similar to surf fishing, except your line isn't the only one battling the swells of the ocean. As if reeling in a big one didn't already come with its own unique set of challenges, skishing adds a whole new layer of difficulty. Armed with a wetsuit and flippers, the angler will swim out into the surf, cast a line, and (ideally) catch a fish to reel in, all while treading water in the open ocean. The goal is to weed out the trophy fish. Fish that are seldom caught when you cast a line from the shore.

Skishing was invented by extreme angler, Paul Melnyk, in New York. The reasoning behind this technique is not very clear. Some say it was a test to angling ability, others suppose it was an effort to bother local surfcasters. Nonetheless, it's a unique way to reel 'em in.

A man skishing, or combining skiing and fishing to land a trophy fish.

Fishing with Otters

Animals have been involved in direct fishing throughout history, including horses, dogs, and birds. But in traditional Bangladesh culture, otters have been the hunter of choice. Fishermen train the otters to essentially chase the fish into nets. It is said that otters can bring in over twenty pounds MORE fish in a night than sole manpower.

The earliest record of otter fishing dates back to the Yangtze region of China during the Tang Dynasty. It was originally practiced for both sustenance and profit, and ended up spreading to multiple parts of the globe. It did end up phasing out of a lot of regions where fish populations diminished, but still remains an essential technique in southern Bangladesh. It's even considered a strategy for otter conservation!

An otter with a fish in its mouth.


Mostly used by biologists, electrofishing is the practice of using electric currents in freshwater streams, rivers, and lakes to temporarily stun nearby fish, making them easier to net. This is done by using a backpack model (like the one pictured below), tote barge models, or boat mounted models. Electrofishing is a common process used for the sampling of fish populations. Done correctly, it does not cause harm to the fish, and they'll be back to their natural state in as little as two minutes.

Electrofishing was introduced in the late 19th century when it was discovered that electric currents could affect the movement of fish. There were brief moments in history where electrofishing was trialed as a means to facilitate commercial fishing, but pretty much remains a tool used by marine biologists.

Two men electrofishing, or using an electric current to temporarily put fish in a trance so they can be easily netted.


Handline fishing is as straightforward as it sounds - holding a single fishing line in the hands with a lure or hook attached, and patiently waiting for a bite. While it's quite minimal in nature, it still requires the aid of tools unlike hand grabbing or noodling. Handlining works for both freshwater and saltwater fishing, on the shore or in a boat. Jigging or trolling are two recommended ways to get fish to take the bait.

This fishing technique has roots from colonial America to the mid-19th century. It is considered an easy and affordable fishing option because of the low startup and maintenance costs.

Person using a handline to fish from the shore.

From catfish noodling to handlining, it's clear that there is no limit to man's creativity while in the pursuit of the perfect catch. We encourage you to cast your lines in uncharted territories and continue explore fishing traditions across the globe!


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