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The Joy of Noodling
Camille Bersamin
July 15, 2002
A postcard from a place where folks fish with their bare hands
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July 15, 2002

The Joy Of Noodling

A postcard from a place where folks fish with their bare hands

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Dear SCORECARD,
Greetings from the third annual Catfish Noodling Tournament in Paul's Valley, Okla. There are about 74 guys (and one woman, Kristy Watson) here hand-catching these giant catfish. I know: Ewww. Standing neck-deep in the lake, a noodler feels around under rocks or logs until he, or she, finds a fish. Then the noodler shoves an arm down its throat, past rows of nasty teeth, grabs it through the gills and hoists it out of the water. A good noodler can do this without hurting the fish. This year's winner, 65-year-old William Lawson of Paul's Valley, noodled a 54-pounder that measured 4� feet long. (Good going, Bill, but I won't shake your hand.) Afterward we went to the big catfish fry, at which we enjoyed live country-rock music and an appearance by a couple of genuine Miss Okie Noodlings. Now I, too, know the feeling of being stuffed to the gills.

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