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Iowa men arrested for “noodling”

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Four men from southeast Iowa are charged with unlawfully taking flathead catfish by hand fishing, commonly known as “noodling.”

Jason Telfer, 28, of Eldon; John Saner, 49, of Batavia and Chris Hafele, 38, of Ottumwa each face three counts of unlawful taking of flathead catfish by hand fishing.  Brant Saner, 28, of Agency faces one count on the same charge.

Hafele is also charged with one count of no fishing license.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources conservation officers reportedly saw the men using their hands and gaff hooks to catch several fish in the Des Moines River near Selma, Iowa.   

The men allegedly used specially modified bathtubs placed below the water to create an artificial spawning environment which attracted the fish.    

“Noodling,” or hand fishing, is illegal in Iowa.  It is legal for licensed fishermen in Illinois waterways where site regulations don’t prohibit the practice. 

At the time of the arrests, police also seized three flathead catfish, ranging from 12 to 27 pounds and a 14-foot jon boat along with its motor and trailer.  Investigators also said they seized 174 pounds of catfish fillets from the home of Jason Telfer. 

The men are expected to appear in Van Buren County Court next on July 12, 2012.