We just put our kayaks in the water where Mark and Geno had selected. Less than 100yrds there was a turn in the river with some small white water. Anyone with skill wouldn’t be intimidated at all; but I was slightly. I can’t mess up less than five minutes into the trip. I didn’t do poorly. I paddled through it without spinning a circle. I next had to adjust to how much you move in a kayak as oppose to a boat. I have fished from larger boats before but never a kayak. It takes some getting used to. I don’t have it down completely yet but I’m getting there. During my learning adventure, we came across three gentlemen, Jeff Hamilton, Kenneth "Shorty" Combs and Darrell Deaton noodling. I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t seen it except on youtube.com. I was also awe struck by the fact that they were doing this bare handed. I asked numerous questions like an elementary child. Does it hurt? Why aren’t you using gloves? How do you know where to look? What do you have to do? They were very polite and even answered all my questions. They then extended an invite to which we all turned down and thanked them. Paddling downstream a little I turned towards Mark and told him I have to do it. I had sworn I would never do it, because it is eerie and gross. I thought when will I have this opportunity again? Well, it is something that I can say I tried. Mark pointed out, I’ve been to Afghanistan. He was sure in the least I could give it a try. I was committed.
We went back and Mark told them I would do it. Jeff found a nest and called me over. I felt very nervous but they were willing to let me try. Again, I didn’t feel I could back down. It was crazy. I first had to figure how to stay at that point under water without getting carried down river. I couldn’t grasp the rock that the nest was under well enough to stay put. Jeff let me anchor my leg around his while he stood nearby. I wrapped my spare arm around him as well. I was scared. I didn’t know what to expect and had wished I didn’t ask so many questions before, more specifically, the does it hurt question. After a few attempts going in just a little and withdrawing I had rummaged the courage to go all in. I was fully submerged in the water and scanning with my hand in a catfish nest…..
Then it bit me. I reacted without thinking and withdrew my arm and hand without a fish. They were right it does hurt, not too much because your adrenaline is pumping. I tried again, even more apprehensive because of my war wound. It struck again. Yet again, I had failed. I was defeated by the catfish. Geno tried but never found the catfish. He did feel the eggs. Mark tried and felt the fish and withdrew. Jami offered a drink for my courage. I could say of the newbie’s, I was the winner. The catfish did meet his fate though; the gentlemen then took over and snatched him. It was very impressive, I was glad I could now say that I tried. I will go again to say that I was successful. It is something I would recommend everyone trying even if just to say you did it. You will be surprised with the remarks from those you tell your story.