In his late sixties, Otto's maternal grandfather, Benjamin Woody retired
from farming and various other means of providing for a large family, to
pursue his favorite pastime, fishing. When he became weary of watching an
orange cork bobbing around in the Kinchafoonee, he discarded his boots and
heavier clothing and waded into the cool and dark water.
Grabbling or Noodling is a tradition of sport fishing, mainly for
cantankerous old catfish, using one's bare hands; an exercise that Pa Woody
enjoyed immensely. It takes a daring individual to feel along the banks of
a creek, under the edges of the overhanging limbs and branches, in search of
creatures that hide in the murky recesses. Imagine reaching deep into a
watery vault and locating the hiding-hole of a colossal water critter.
Warning: this exercise is not intended for cowardly individuals, only the
courageous dare to participate.
How does one know that the creature they encounter with the brush of a bare
hand, without the convenience of viewing it, is a fish rather than a
snapping turtle or a water moccasin? According to Pa Woody's explanation,
this action is what separates the sportsman from the novice.
During his numerous instances of noodling he never suffered serious injury,
no bites, strikes, or stings were ever disclosed. There was an occasional
abrasion but nothing that couldn't be treated with a swab of Mercurochrome
and the application of a band aide.
To the neighbors, Ben Woody was a curious old fellow who wore overalls and
resembled a mountain man, but to his numerous grandchildren, Pa Woody was
their champion. He always let them tag along on his adventures and taught
them how to enjoy the curious wilderness in southwest Georgia known as