19-year-old Lucy Millsap became the first woman ever to win the annual Okie Noodling Tournament by catching an enormous 72-pound catfish with her bare hands. The former cheerleader from Texas beat out 200 other noodlers at Lake Texoma in Oklahoma this weekend.
"There was a lot of trash talk at the event," Millsap told Tulsa World. "Men would walk by and say slurs in my ear, say 'You couldn't catch that by yourself.' I had men go so far as to curse and cuss at me and stuff. I thought, 'Really? How big was the fish you weighed in? 30 pounds? I thought so. Nice to meet you, too.'"
The champ also holds the title of Miss May in the 2014 "Bare Knuckle Babes" noodling calendar.
Noodling is a method of hand fishing in which someone sticks their hands and arms in the murky waters where catfish live, luring the fish to latch on to their limbs.
It is only legal in a handful of Southeastern states. Animals rights groups protest it; PETA notes that, “fish are smart, interesting animals with their own unique personalities, and just as dogs, cats, and humans do, fish feel pain.” And the sport is not without its dangers. Millsap told Tulsa World that the winning fish put up a fight and "rolled like an alligator." She added, "my right hand is disgusting right now. I can't do anything with it."
The peculiar sport and subculture surrounding it was the subject of the 2001 documentary "Okie Noodling," directed by Oklahoma native Bradley Beesley. Watch the director talk about the tournament in the video below.
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