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'Okie Noodling': How hand fishing went big-time

More than a decade later, Oklahoma filmmaker Bradley Beesley finally finding commercial success with Okie Noodling
by Ed Godfrey Modified: July 14, 2012 at 10:36 pm •  Published: July 14, 2012

The first time Bradley Beesley went noodling was during the filming of his first “Okie Noodling” documentary.

Two of the noodlers featured in the film, Dave and Red Baggett of Lawton, suggested that Beesley get in the water with them and try it for himself while they were filming at Lake Lawtonka.

Beesley didn't want any part of it, but the noodlers insisted.

“They were the first guys who got me bit,” Beesley said. “It sounds really cliché, but that first day I got bit, I knew it was going to be a lifelong passion. I used to love to go rod and reel fishing. Now I am completely bored by it.

“I have literally gone out fishing with a rod and reel and within 15 minutes I have forgotten about the rod and reel and I am in there with my hands.”

Beesley, a graduate of Moore High School who now lives in Austin, Texas, is back in Oklahoma this month to film the second season of his reality cable television series, “Mudcats.”

Many of the cast members of “Mudcats” are Oklahoma hand fishermen that he featured in his two “Okie Noodling” documentaries.

“Mudcats,” which in its first season had 3.2 million viewers, was the idea of the noodlers, said Beesley, who was hesitant at first to create the show.

“They approached me and said, ‘Man, we want to make a TV show about this. We see people on TV hog hunting and we want to do that with noodling.'

“I was telling them some of the pitfalls of being on a reality show. I told them, ‘I don't know if you really want to do that. This is a full-time job.' I told them they are going to be working 14 hours a day and their job is to catch fish. ‘Is this going to take the fun out of it for you?' ”

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by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
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...
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