Hand gathering is a common technique used by fishermen of all ages and experience levels. The hand gathering fishing technique is commonly chosen for anglers who wish to harvest sea food with as little fishing equipment as possible. Gathering seafood by hand can be an enjoyable pastime and can include harvesting of shellfish from the shoreline, digging for clams, scalloping or catching crabs.

There are various types of hand gathering fishing techniques used, including tramping, noodling, diving and more.  Fishing techniques by hand require a different level of mastery that some anglers may be unfamiliar with. To find out specific answers to commonly asked questions such as “what is hand gathering fishing?” and “what are types of hand gathering are most often used?” continue reviewing the outlined information below.

What is hand-gathering?

Hand gathering fishing is very straightforward, especially when sticking to the shoreline. Gathering seafood by hand can be as easy as waiting for the tide to go out and hunting for the seafood left behind, either hidden under rocks, resting in algae or buried in the sand. Hand gathering fish should be practiced only when the tide is out, as it will become much more difficult to gather fish by hand while the ocean is still rolling in.

Which types of fish can I catch with hand gathering?

There are certain fishing techniques by hand which will result in catching various types of fish and seafood. Some of the most common mollusks caught through hand gathering techniques include shellfish, oysters, clams, scallops and cockles. Hand gathering fishing techniques can also result in various crustaceans such as lobster, crabs and crayfish. Common fish varieties caught using hand-fishing techniques include trout and flathead species, such as catfish.

What are the best waters for hand gathering?

The best waters to practice hand gathering fishing are higher tidal coefficient waters. This means that the hand gathering that takes place when the tide is out will provide much more of an opportunity to be successful in fishing by hand. The higher the tidal coefficient, the further out the tide will go which ultimately results in much more area to scour. For hand gatherers who are diving for abalone, lobsters, or kelp to name a few, should make sure the water is not rough and also not too deep to where there will be difficulty resurfacing.

What equipment is required for hand gathering?

The equipment used for hand gathering fish, mollusks, crustaceans and otherwise tend to be straightforward. To practice hand gathering fishing techniques, little to no tools or equipment are required. Beyond simply gathering seafood by hand without the need for other types of tools, a few common tools to use can include a spade, rake and even a sieve in some cases. The spade of rake can be used in hand gathering when digging under sand for particular shellfish, while the sieve can be utilized sifting through the sand to see what was gathered.

What are the different types of hand gathering techniques?

There are a few different hand gathering techniques for fishing outside of what is expected. Each of the techniques used within hand fishing cater to either a specific way of fishing or a specific type of fish or crustacean being caught. A few of the most common hand gathering fishing techniques include trout tickling, pearl diving, noodling and flounder tramping.

What is trout tickling?

Trout tickling is used to catch brown trout. Many anglers wonder how to tickle a trout and what the result of the tickling is. The technique has been used for centuries, dating back to Shakespeare, with a reference within his comedy Twelfth Night. To learn how to tickle a trout, anglers should start by practicing rubbing the underbelly of a trout with their fingers. If it is done properly, the trout will go into a trance after about a minute, which provides the angler with the chance to pick up the trout out and carry it onto dry land.

What is pearl diving?

Pearl diving is the act of gathering pearls from mollusks such as mussels or oysters. Diving for pearls, also known as pearl hunting, is commonly done by free-diving within a body of water to retrieve oysters, and bringing them back to the surface to see if pearls are held within. The history of pearl diving is quite, unique dating back decades. Unfortunately, there were many different pearl diving dangers attributed to this technique many years ago, as free divers would descend to depths over 100-feet in one breath. Some of the most common dangers included waves, eye damage, encountering hostile creatures at such depths and drowning. While these facts about pearl diving are not often shared, it is important for all anglers to understand the dangers associated. With many restrictions regarding pearl hunting today, knowing where to go pearl diving can be quite difficult. Some of the most common spots in the world to dive for pearls include Tahiti, Bahrain, Mexico and even Florida.

What is flounder tramping?

“What is flounder tramping?” is a very common question asked by anglers, especially those who are unfamiliar with this unusual, and lesser-known technique. Flounder tramping actually utilizes the feet to catch fish, instead of hands. Tramping for flounders involves wading in shallow waters, coming across flounder along the bottom and standing on them. Once the fish are trapped underfoot, they are impaled, sometimes using a spear, and then bagged. The flounder tramping technique was used primarily in coastal areas of South West Scotland for many years. In fact, in the small village of Palnackie, Scotland, flounder tramping championships are held every year. Competitors participating in tramping flounder wade through the mud with bare feet until they can trap the hidden flounder underneath.

What is noodling?

Noodling is a technique that uses no additional equipment and is used primarily to hunt for catfish. Catfish noodling commonly takes place in the southern parts of the United States, however is now illegal in certain states that once allowed it. How noodling works is that the “noodler” searches for catfish holes, and sticks his or her hand inside the catfish bed. While many have considered noodling as a sport throughout the years, there are various noodling injuries that have been recorded, including cuts and wounds to the noodler, especially those who do not wear gloves. Dangers of noodling also include losing fingers or even drowning if the hole is too deep. However, other types of aquatic life can be found in the holes such as snakes, beavers, snapping turtles and even alligators, which can be just as much if not more of a threat. Noodling safety should be understood by every participant before attempting.

Hand gathering techniques come in all different varieties. Some anglers may have expected gathering seafood by hand to be strictly along the shoreline or shallow waters and perhaps were surprised at the various techniques available. From noodling to pearl diving, and even flounder tramping in Scotland, there are plenty of ways to gather fish by hand or through use of very minimal equipment. Depending on the type of catch an angler is seeking, understanding the fishing techniques by hand that can be used will be most beneficial.