Having been an avid noodler for more than a decade, Pulchny convinced Judkins to join him this summer, and the two have been noodling every day for the past month.
“My girlfriend is getting suspicious because everyday I come home and I'm exhausted and sore,” Judkins said. “She laughed at me the other day and said ‘I thought you were out there fishing.'”
Judkins, a former leader of the Oklahoma State drum line for the marching band, wears his band shoes while noodling because he says their tight fit works best when he has to stick his foot into a hole.
“These shoes marched up and down the field at Boone Pickens,” Judkins said. “I like to think that a little bit of the stadium turf goes everywhere I do.”
The contents in the bed of Judkins' truck are nearly as interesting as his noodling habit. Next to the 50-gallon horse trough that Judkins and Pulchny hope they fill with catfish keepers are other smaller buckets filled with different head or body parts of animals they have found while noodling.
“I noodled this raccoon head the other day,” Judkins said. “Bet nobody can say that at the tournament.”
Also joining the duo is Judkins' girlfriend, Megan Trope, and Pulchny's friend Rita Sanders. Pulchny's brother Dustin completes the team. He's noodled all day at Lake Eufaula and will meet up with the rest of the team to grab his “Noodling our lives away” team shirt at the tournament in Pauls Valley.
As Sanders helped Pulchny by blocking another hole he had called “fish” on, her neck and chin were getting covered in the slimy runoff that floated to the top of the river. Sanders said she's never been a girl who's afraid of getting her hands dirty, but even she admits noodling tests that stance.
“I really just never wanted to live my life thinking that I hadn't tried something,” Sanders said. “I would much rather be outside doing something fun than stuck at home inside or something.”
The day ends without any fish being caught, but the team doesn't drive to the tournament empty-handed. They enter a three-fish stringer that almost totals 44 pounds, which falls 20 pounds short of the biggest single fish caught at the tournament.
“That's enough to earn us a beer,” Judkins said. “That's good enough for me.”