Not many can ignore the call of the Arkansas River or the promise of a three-pound catch. Even in winter, you’ll have luck with whites and saugers. But if all you’re doing is basic angling, you’re missing out on an entire spectrum of new challenges. Try any of these types of unique fishing techniques for an experience you won’t soon forget.
Hogging and Noodling
Who needs a rod and reel? Not bears, who have grabbed fish straight out of the water for centuries. Hands are better equipment than paws, and you don’t even need a boat. Just grope around the muddy bottom of shallow waters for holes, and wait for a good bite—on your hand. There’s a bit of wrestling involved, so bragging rights are well-earned. Just make sure you check local regulations and limit your prey to buffalo, catfish, carp, and drum.
You don’t need expensive gadgetry for this old-school method—just an empty soda jug with a hook and line tied to the neck. You’ll need up to 20 jugs, because this will be a free-floating flotilla you need to follow. When a catfish makes a bid for the bait, the jug starts racing away. It’s up to you to get to the jug before the catfish pulls it under for good. Make sure you label your “equipment” with your name, address, and driver’s license number, per regulation.
You’ll use a multi-pronged spear to nab those fish that can be elusive when using other equipment. Use a flat-bottomed boat equipped with lights, because it’s a lot more fun to gig after dark. You can only gig rough fish unless you’ve got a permit for alligator gar. After you’ve been doing it for a few years, you’ll graduate to throwing your gig like a spear, and eventually to the big show: full-fledged spearfishing.
One of the more physical types of unique fishing techniques, bowfishing requires hunting skills and a lot of hit-and-miss. You’ll need some new equipment because adapting a typical crossbow can be tricky. You can bowfish on land, by boat, or wading in the shallows; take a stab at invasive species like Asian carp, and you’ll be doing everyone a favor. You can go for catfish, too, between July 15 and May 1, but there are limits. Pro tip: Aim low, because the water refraction makes the fish seem higher than they really are.