Lucy Millsap, a 19-year-old former cheerleader from Texas, became the first woman to ever win the annual Okie Noodling Tournament on Saturday after she nabbed a record-breaking 72-pound catfish with her bare hands. Now that's noodling catfish like a champ.
Millsap, representing her handfishing club the "Bare Knuckle Babes," beat out the 200 contestants who gathered at Lake Texoma in Pauls Valley, Okla., on Saturday for noodling catfish..
Despite it being her first noodling competition, Millsap caught the largest catfish in the tournament's 14-year history, Tulsa World reported.
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But her win wasn't without controversy. The sport is dominated by males who don't take too kindly to being beaten by a girl.
"There was a lot of trash talk at the event," Millsap told the 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? Thirty pounds? I thought so. Nice to meet you, too.'
"The coolest thing about it for me is just empowering women, and that's really crucial to me right now because there are a lot of haters, a lot of trash talk about me. Men don't believe a woman can do it. It's hard for them to swallow and, hey, I get it. I do. But I'm standing up for women, and you don't think we can do it? Well, here you go, I just did."
Noodling is illegal in most states because of the risk to noodlers and the threat to the fish population. It's currently legal in some form in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.
"I think people like to noodle, or handfish, because it's a very romantic way to interact with nature in kind of a Huck Finn type way and walk up and down rivers and have this very visceral contact with the land," Bradley Beesley, who started the Okie Noodling Tournament more than a decade ago, told reporters.
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