While most anglers use rod, line and hooks to bring a fish to hand, some anglers actually use their hands. They are noodlers. And noodling has a new king in Oklahoma where Kaleb Summers of Claremore recently became the reigning champion and record holder with the biggest fish ever checked in at the 2012 Okie Noodling Tournament. He and his team wrangled—or noodled— the biggest-ever flathead catfish that weighed more than 70 pounds.
Summers’ fish bested a 68-pound-plus catfish caught during the 2009 event. Not following conventional methods of catch, noodlers dive into murky waters and slip along eerie banks and slimy structures until they feel a fish. Then they force their fingers and hand into the fish’s mouth and begin fighting to bring the fish to the surface. This is definitely not a pursuit for the faint of heart.
Noodlers used to compete as teams for the largest three-fish stringer with a separate prize for the single largest fish in the famed Oklahoma competition. During this year’s contest, the rules were changed to one largest fish in several categories: natural, scuba, women’s, youth and largest fish overall. Summers’ fish took top prize in the natural division and heaviest fish overall.
Okie noodling has been featured on countless television shows and in numerous magazine articles. Now customers can also pay to go on noodling trips in Summer’s 23-foot airboat.
Before a sold-out audience of hunters, anglers, trappers and U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance members, 2012 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Congressman Paul Ryan let the gathered know—he’s one of them. He also …
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA) provides direct lobbying and grassroots coalition support to protect and advance the rights of hunters, trappers, anglers, and scientific wildlife management professionals... Read More.