Minnesota trio a little noodle-crazy for noodling event in Oklahoma

Jesse Hansen of Plainview, Minn., his brother Josh, and their friend, Levi Ellingson, will be traveling from Minnesota to Oklahoma later this week to go noodling at the 12th Annual Okie Noodling Tournament.
by Ed Godfrey Modified: July 2, 2011 at 10:49 pm •  Published: July 2, 2011
Advertisement
;

photo - Jesse Hansen of Plainview, Minn., holds a flathead catfish caught by another noodler at last year's Okie Noodling Tournament in Pauls Valley. Hansen hopes to become a
Jesse Hansen of Plainview, Minn., holds a flathead catfish caught by another noodler at last year's Okie Noodling Tournament in Pauls Valley. Hansen hopes to become a "real Okie noodler" this year by catching his own fish with his bare hands. Photo provided

Why would three guys from Minnesota want to drive 11 hours to Oklahoma just to get their hands, fingers and forearms mauled by a catfish?

“I guess we kind of want to be a little crazy,” said Jesse Hansen of Plainview, Minn.

Hansen, his brother Josh, and their friend, Levi Ellingson, will be traveling from Minnesota to Oklahoma later this week to go noodling.

They are avid outdoorsmen in Minnesota, often fishing for smallmouth and walleye, but they say it doesn't compare to the thrill of noodling for Oklahoma flatheads.

“There is nothing close to noodling up here,” Hansen said.

These Minnesota residents are so ate up with noodling they became Oklahoma City Thunder fans during the NBA playoffs.

They are even considering buying land in Oklahoma and have been growing beards the past two months to look more redneck. It's intended as a compliment.

“Anything to do with Oklahoma, we're all about it,” Jesse Hansen said.

And it's all because of noodling.

The Minnesota trio will be competing this week in the 12th annual Okie Noodling Tournament, which culminates Saturday night with the weigh-in at Pauls Valley's Wacker Park, where it has moved to this year because it's outgrown Bob's Pig Shop.

If you are not acquainted with the Okie Noodling Tournament, then frankly you must have been living in a deeper hole than any of Oklahoma's flathead catfish.

The annual tournament — where fishermen scatter border to border in Oklahoma to scour underwater holes and crevices with their hands for flathead catfish – is a media darling.

Since the first tournament a dozen years ago, noodling in Oklahoma has been the subject of hundreds if not thousands of magazine and newspaper articles.

It's been featured on numerous outdoor and online television shows, talk shows, reality shows and even cooking shows.

The noodlers profiled in the first Okie Noodling documentary, which spawned the Okie Noodling tournament, are in such demand to showcase their skills in front of a camera that they need press agents.

Bradley Beesley, a former University of Oklahoma film student who produced the Okie Noodling documentary, said a “major cable network” is developing a weekly series about noodling.

Beesley said the cable show will be an “episodic documentary” but will not reveal more details.

Who knows? Perhaps Charlie Sheen will be starring in “Noodling with Two and a Half Men.” Or “The Real Noodlers of McIntosh County.”

I jest, but there wouldn't be so much media attention if people were not fascinated by noodlers, men and women who are blindly willing to stick their arms in an underwater hole in hopes of getting bitten by a giant flathead catfish.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Ed Godfrey
Reporter Sr.
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
+ show more


WHAT: 12th annual Okie Noodling Tournament

WHERE: Wacker Park in Pauls Valley, 5 blocks northeast of the original venue, Bob's Pig Shop

WHEN: Saturday, July 9

RULES: Noodlers can begin hand fishing at 7 p.m. Friday. They can catch fish anywhere in Oklahoma but must return to Pauls Valley with live fish by 7 p.m. Saturday to be eligible.

PRIZES: Prizes are awarded in the natural and scuba divisions. The top cash award is $1,000 for the biggest flathead catfish. Cash prizes also for the biggest three-fish stringer, top female noodler and top noodler 18 or younger.

ENTRY FEES: The entry fee is $30 per person but increases to $50 after Wednesday.

CONTACT: For more information, visit www.okienoodling.com or call (405) 238-1669.

Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Florida State's Chris Casher won't play against Oklahoma State
  2. 2
    Michael Sam, NFL's first openly gay player, cut by St. Louis Rams
  3. 3
    State Department taps Texas lawyer to serve as ‘America’s ambassador to Muslims’
  4. 4
    Local authorities say they're unlikely to use armored vehicles should civil unrest occur
  5. 5
    Lee Corso drinks Stone Cold Steve Austin's beer, shoots guns on College GameDay
+ show more