Skipper Bivins never dreamed that catching fish with his bare hands would lead to a seat next to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show.
But on Wednesday night, this 48-year-old roofing and siding contractor from the tiny town of Temple was on national television, promoting his new television show about noodling in Oklahoma.
“It was an experience of a lifetime,” Bivins said. “They put us up in a nice hotel. We had limo service. It was just a real sweet set-up. Jay was a real good guy.
Bivins and his longtime Cotton County neighbor and friend, Trent Jackson, are the hosts of a new cable television series, Hillbilly Handfishin' which debuts Aug. 7 at 9 p.m. on Animal Planet.
Hillbilly Handfishin' is a weekly series that features Bivins and Jackson guiding self-proclaimed “city slickers” on hand fishing trips for Oklahoma's giant flathead catfish, and whatever else might be biting.
ABC's Nightline is expected to air a segment about the Oklahoma noodlers and the new show this week.
Bivins and Jackson are more accustomed to no stoplight towns like Temple than the glittering lights of Los Angeles.
“We do what we do best, which is catch fish,” Bivins said. “Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that it would take us to Hollywood.”
How did it happen? Well, Bivins has long been one of Oklahoma's best noodlers. He and his brother, Scooter, have won the annual Okie Noodling Tournament in Pauls Valley four or five times.
He has been noodling (or grabblin' as he called it growing up) since age 4. It's a family tradition. Bivins' father taught him how to catch fish by hand. His grandfather had taught his father.
Bivins was part of the original Okie Noodling documentaries that developed a cult following and started a worldwide media frenzy about noodling.
Bivins and his family seized upon the notoriety and started a guide business, Big Fish Adventures. They began attracting customers from across the country who wanted to come to Oklahoma and stick their hands or feet in a giant flathead's mouth.