For centuries, a unique breed of fishermen has been catching monster catfish with their bare hands in the rivers and lakes of Oklahoma. Today, the tradition of “noodling” still has Okie anglers hooked – the noodler motto is No Hooks, No Bait, No Fear. Once a year, competitive noodlers and handfishers meet in Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma for the world’s largest noodling contest. Pictured here are some of the 2011 contenders, along with their prize catfish. Wowzers! All images are by photographer Matt Rainwaters (see his full collection of Okie Noodling images HERE).
Over the last decade, noodling (also known as catfisting, grabbling, graveling, hogging, dogging, gurgling, tickling and stumping) has enjoyed a surge in popularity due to a documentary, and two cable network shows.
-Watch full episodes online of The History Channel’s Mudcats and Animal Planet’s Hillbilly Handfishin.
-Learn how to Noodle In Ten Easy Steps