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Outdoors Outpost
Laying Down the Laws
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 • Posted August 15, 2012

Some new laws were enacted for Texas during 2011, laws we should all, as citizens, be aware of. Obviously, considering the previous sentence, none of these laws prohibit ending a sentence with a preposition.

This is a good thing, I believe, since my family has a long history of ending sentences with prepositions, contrary to Oxford Rules. I never met Mr. Oxford, but I doubt I’d get along with him. And I’m sure Winston Churchill wouldn’t, either. Churchill was once berated by a reporter for ending a sentence with a preposition, and he responded, “That is a silly rule, up with which I will not put.” Or words to that effect.

Anyway, we’ve discussed some of these new laws in this column previously, such as the ‘CHL Fast Lane’ law, which allows citizens who have concealed handgun licenses to bypass the metal detectors at certain entrances to the state capitol building in Austin. This is a good rule, as people with CHLs have already proven they aren’t criminals, and it saves time.

We’ve also looked at the ‘Pork Chopper’ law, that allows the hunting of hogs from helicopters. This is not a good law, it’s a great law. The only problem with it is that no one has, as yet, invited me to shoot hogs from their helicopter, which I would be willing to drive long distances to do.

Another new law is the one raising the maximum speed limit in Texas to 85 mph, which will make a trip from Junction to El Paso go quicker, since everyone will be driving 95 on I-10. If you stop at Cooper’s Barbeque in Junction for supper, you can make it to El Paso in time for a breakfast of huevos rancheros at Crisostomo’s.

You’ll notice these are all positive laws, as is another new one, which requires presentation of a valid, government-issued photo ID in order to vote. That one has received a lot of criticism, but you have to admit it keeps people from voting for years after they’ve passed on, which I understand has been happening in some places.

But one of the best new laws to be passed during 2011 made noodling legal. Previously, if one noodled, he could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, and fined up to $500. Now Texans can noodle to their heart’s content, assuming noodling provides heart contentment.

In case some Yankee gets hold of this column, noodling is the practice of catching catfish by reaching down into the water and grabbing them with your hands, as opposed to using a rod & reel. The name derives from the practice of extending and wiggling the little finger, ostensibly to simulate a worm. Or something.

I’d never heard of noodling until recently, but I’ve heard of rock fishing all my life, which is pretty much the same thing, only different. The rock fisher usually gets all the way down in the water, and feels around under large boulders for catfish under the downstream side of the rock, and grabs them. One fellow I know once grabbed for a catfish that turned out to be pretty big, and swallowed most of the man’s arm. But a catfish can’t bite off an arm, so that one turned out OK. Well, not for the fish.

Another method is to cut a salt cedar stick about four feet long, and attach a large hook to one end with copper wire. The hook end is used to feel around under boulders for fish, with the hook turned downward. The fish won’t swim away when they feel the copper, for some reason. When something soft is found, the stick is turned, and the fish is hooked and pulled out. Salt cedar is used because it doesn’t float.

Regular noodling, however, has become pretty popular. Lots of people do it. For example, 11-year-old Mikie Webb, of Union Grove, Texas, near Longview, is evidently pretty good at it. And if I were to pick one word to describe Mikie, that word would be ‘tenacious.’

Mikie was noodling in a pond near his home recently, and managed to sneak up on a big cat. He ran his arm through the fish’s gill, and when he did, it swam off, dragging Mikie under water with him.

Now, if that happened to me, I would probably be trying to get me a big batch of loose, but Mikie hung on, knowing his 18-year-old brother, Tyler, would jump in and help him out. Which is pretty much what happened, or else this might not be such a happy story.

The fish, which ended up in the Webb’s fryer, weighed 51 pounds, about half what Mikie weighs. There’s probably a weight ratio record here, but I don’t know if anyone keeps track of such things. Maybe someone should.

So it seems like we’re going the right direction, law-wise. Now if we can just pass a bill making it legal to use fire extinguishers on people who talk on cell phones during movies, we’ll have it made . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who is available just about anytime for airbourne porcine suppression. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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