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Temple's Skipper Bivins and Trent Jackson are noodling's new stars

Animal Planet's new series, "Hillbilly Handfishin'", stars Oklahoma noodlers and debuts on Aug. 7.
by Ed Godfrey Modified: July 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm •  Published: July 30, 2011
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photo - Trent Jackson, left, and Skipper Bivins of Temple star in a new television show, Hillbilly Handfishin', which features noodling for flatheads in southern Oklahoma. The show debuts Aug. 7 on Animal Planet. Photo provided by David Yellen
Trent Jackson, left, and Skipper Bivins of Temple star in a new television show, Hillbilly Handfishin', which features noodling for flatheads in southern Oklahoma. The show debuts Aug. 7 on Animal Planet. Photo provided by David Yellen

“Some of them just had a bucket list and come down and got it out of the way,” Bivins said. “We've taken people as old as 71 and as young as 17.”

Big Fish Adventures caught the attention of Half Yard Productions, which pitched an idea for a weekly television show.

Animal Planet liked the pilot, and filming for the weekly series began in May in southwest Oklahoma. Twelve episodes are scheduled beginning Aug. 7.

Most of the rookie noodlers Bivins escorts through the muddy waters of southwest Oklahoma on Hillbilly Handfishin' have rarely been off concrete.

“I eventually coax them into being the bait,” Bivins said. “City slickers make danged good bait.”

Bivins' favorite episode features a young Chicago photographer who met a very aggressive 30-pound blue catfish on his adventure in Oklahoma.

“It bit him about a dozen times, over and over and over,” Bivins said. “He was just screaming. He just kept on. I thought his eye was going to pop out, and I was going to have to catch it.

“He got the experience of a lifetime for sure. He got into a freshwater shark attack. He may have gotten some pedicures before but not like this.”

All of the noodling occurs in a 100-mile radius of Cotton County, Bivins said.

Many landowners in Cotton, Jefferson and Love counties were generous enough to allow Bivins and his film crew access to lakes, ponds, rivers and creeks on their land.

These two Cotton County noodlers seem to be naturals on camera.

“Jackson and I have been cutting up with each other all of our lives,” Bivins said. “We are just being ourselves and having fun and showing the guests a good time. I guess that comes across.”

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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"Hillbilly Handfishin'"

What: New television show featuring noodling in Oklahoma

When: Sunday nights at 9 p.m. beginning Aug. 7

Where: On Animal Planet

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