Lucy Millsap is the first woman to win the annual Okie Noodling Tournament in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. Millsap, a 19-year-old former cheerleader from Texas, beat 200 other contestants in the bare-handed fishing derby.
The tournament landed her a 72-pound catfish at Lake Texoma on Saturday, according to the Oklahoman. Millsap represented her handfishing club, the “Bare Knuckle Babes.” It was her first competition.
GrindTV reports that Millsap’s enormous fish was the largest caught in the tournament’s 14-year history.
According to Tulsa World, Millsap’s win caused a bit of controversy among participants in the predominantly male sport. The fact that she is a Texan apparently didn’t sit too well among the hosting Okies, either.
“There was a lot of trash talk at the event,” Millsap told the outlet. “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? Thirty pounds? I thought so. Nice to meet you, too.’”
Noodling, or handfishing, is a method in which sportsmen (and sportswomen) stick their hands and arms into holes in murky water with the hope that a large catfish will latch onto them.
Millsap told Tulsa World that the winning fish gave her a bit of a fight; it “rolled like an alligator” and injured her hand.
The sport and the peculiar subculture surrounding it was the subject of the 2001 documentary “Okie Noodling,” directed by Oklahoma native Bradley Beesley. In an interview with the Oklahoman, the filmmaker said his documentary was the catalyst for the annual handfishing derby.