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Bragging Board


Continued from Page 33NOODLING


Possibilities of danger are prevalent in the sport. A catfi sh bite to the arm is the least of a noodler’s worries. “Every time you go, you


Photos courtesy of Bradley Beesley


know deep in your heart something can happen,” Bivins said. “You’re taking a calcu- lated risk. You are going under water, something could snag, rocks could slip and pin you; there are snakes, beavers. A beaver bit me once and I spent $4,000 to $5,000 on rabies shots and stitches. “If you see an air pocket, don’t reach in there,” Bivins added. “It could be a snake. Also, know what beaver cut- tings look like, what to look for.”


Brownen added that in the 30 or more years he spent noodling, he only caught one snake. “It doesn’t take you long to look at it before you throw it,” he said.


Photo courtesy of Scooter Bivins


One practice every seasoned noodler advises is to never go alone. If someone is new to the sport, Bivins suggests going with someone who already


knows the ropes. “Going as a rookie and not


knowing what you’re getting into is opening the door to trouble,” Bivins said. “And always take one or two more people. There are dangers of going under and getting pinned. Always keep an eye on each other. Talk, stay together, keep up with each other.” Bivins also advises taking a


quality stringer instead of just a piece of rope or string; and bringing plenty of fl uid so as not to get dehydrated. Additionally, Bowman sug- gested dressing down for the occasion. “Wear clothes you don’t care


if you never wear again or want to wear as a trophy,” she said. “My clothes were all red from that red dirt. Grandma tried to use Mrs. Smith’s bluing to get the red out of my clothes after we went, but she didn’t have much success.”


GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS Bivins, who is the assistant


Fire Chief in Walters, can actu- ally be found fi shing with rod and reel during the noodling off-season.


“But once the season hits,


the hooks get put away,” he said. “Once my brothers and I start noodling, it’s serious business. We’re very competi- tive.”


Thankfully, for those noodlers with competitive spirits, the 13th Annual Okie Noodling tournament is just around the corner. “I’ve gone to the tournament


every year since I’ve known about it,” Bivins said. The Okie Noodling tourna- ment was created by Beesley to accompany his 2001 documen- tary, Okie Noodling. “I wanted to start something that promotes and showcases the guys who have put their blood, sweat and tears into catching gigantic catfi sh,” Beesley said of his documen- tary. “I started the tournament so all the characters in the movie could actually meet and compete.”


Originally there were 37 con-


testants and 500 people in the audience. Last year, the tourna- ment hosted a whopping 200 entries and 10,000 bystanders. Because of its growth over the past few years, the tournament is now located in Pauls Valley’s Whacker Park instead of its original location at Bob’s Pig Shop.


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The Okie Noodling tour- nament will be held June 23. Check-in is at 6 p.m., and registration forms are due June 22. For a list of rules and more information on noodling and the Okie Noodling tournament, visit www.okienoodling.com. As for winning the tour- nament, Bivins has a few tricks up his sleeve. “Keeping fi sh alive for the tournament is the real trick. You’ve got to hone your skills, try different methods and aeration techniques; make sure you’re fi shing the right places. You’ve got to be able to judge the calculated risks you’re taking. You have to be willing to take chanc- es, and it helps if you’re an outdoorsy person. But most of all, you’ve got to have a lot of heart.” OL


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