Pauls Valley Democrat
The crowd was big and the honors even bigger for this year’s Okie Noodling Tournament held this past weekend in Pauls Valley.
Noodlers coming from all over the region streamed into the local Wacker Park to have their prizes — sometimes massive size catfish — weighed in and admired by a crowd of onlookers numbering into the thousands.
It was the 14th annual noodling even here as a “sea of people” again greeted noodlers when they brought in plenty of fish so large they hardly seemed real.
In fact, they were real and so was another big round of interest for a very unique event calling Pauls Valley home for years now.
“We had a lot of winners and a lot of people taking home trophies and the bragging rights,” said Della Wilson, president of the Pauls Valley Chamber of Commerce, one of the event’s sponsors.
“It’s amazing to see so many people at the event. Once again it met our expectations. The crowd, the interest, it’s just amazing,” she said.
“It shows a lot of people find large flat head fish interesting.”
Along with the now world-wide interest in the local noodling tournament, Wilson says it’s nice to see many of the same people coming each year to the festival.
“It seems like Okie Noodling has become the place to have a little catch up time with friends,” she said. “It’s a real reunion for noodlers; for people who travel from so far away to come here.
“Remember, this is the world’s first noodling event and still the largest. There is no place like Pauls Valley.”
Leading the way for all the noodling winners was Lucy Milsap of Quinlan, Texas, who has been a noodler since the age of 5.
Milsap hit it big by winning the title of “biggest fish” as she hauled in a 72-pound catfish. She picked up the top trophy and a $1,500 prize.
Milsap also picked up another $200 and trophy as the “top female noodler.”
The other results were also impressive with plenty of large fish being caught by noodlers, who all got trophies and cash prizes.
• Natural Division - 1st place, Scott Jett of Velma (67.8 pounds); 2nd place, Jimmy Milsap of Quinlan, Texas (67.4 pounds); 3nd place, Travis Bice of Greenwood, Ark. (61.9 pounds); 4th place, Keith Compton of Broken Bow (61.1 pounds); 5th place, Michael Smith of Lawton (61 pounds); 6th place, Dylan Ford of Krebs (53.9 pounds).
• Scuba Division - 1st place, Tim Suchy of Wanette (68.3 pounds); 2nd place, Tony Norton of Ratliff City (66.2 pounds); 3rd place, Joe Dansby of Stratford (58.5 pounds); 4th place, Terry Morrow of Eucha (56.9 pounds); 5th place, Dennis Williams of Midwest City (54.5 pounds); 6th place, Jesse McGregor of Blair (54.2 pounds).
• Female Noodler Runner-Up - Sheila Norton of Ratliff City (55 pounds).
• Top Youth (18 and under) - Chris Prater of Checotah (50 pounds); Runner Up - Dakota Garrett of Eufaula (46.9 pounds).
• Smallest Fish - Troy Smith of Guthrie (5.9 pounds).
• Queen (Crown and Sash) - Amber Honeycut and Colby Morrow.