You gotta love Mississippi: It’s a land of traditions, where tamales are popular and sticking your hand in a giant catfish’s mouth is a reasonable way to catch it. We experienced both on our way through the piney woods and rivers of the Magnolia State. Mississippi lived up to its other nickname — the Hospitality State — when we showed up at another stranger’s house and were welcomed by a bounty of southern hospitality and catfish.

The actual act of noodling (or hand grabbin’, hand fishin’, etc.) for catfish is illegal elsewhere — until recently, you’d earn a misdemeanor in Texas. But here in Mississippi, the traditional method for acquiring these large catfish is still alive and well. And it’s a rush: