Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

July 7, 2011

Noodling set for 12th year in the Valley

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Hand fishing enthusiasts will soon have to learn a new location when it comes to this year’s Okie Noodling Tournament, but that should not prove to be a major hurdle as it returns this weekend for the 12th year in Pauls Valley.

Making its first appearance in Wacker Park on Saturday, July 9 after spending 11 years at Bob’s Pig Shop where it was founded, the event is set to welcome noodlers far and wide to the Band Shell area, said Jennifer Samford, Pauls Valley’s Parks and Recreation director.

Though fishing and noodling demonstrations will be going on much earlier, the first item of the day welcomes kids at 4:30 p.m. for the catfish eating contest.

Pauls Valley police will be around to help direct traffic and parking, which should be much easier than in the old location where overcrowding was a regular concern, said Samford.

When people come to the park they are asked to enter only through the Willow Street side to keep the flow uninterrupted.

Along with allowing more space for the crowd to spread out, there should be more shade for spectators, a welcomed commodity since it is expected to reach into triple digits Saturday, said Samford.

Another change will for the first time welcome several new vendors from food to wine tastings and there is now plenty of room to grow it well beyond what was imagined the first time around.

The day’s schedule will also include performance of the band Empty Bottles at 5 p.m., a radio remote by KCIM 97.7 FM from 5 to 7 p.m., fish weigh-in at 7 p.m., the Okie Noodling Queen coronation at 8 p.m. and the live band Beau Jennings to close things out.

As many as 6,000 people are expected to show up, so those wanting a good parking spot are encouraged to arrive early.

Pauls Valley Chamber of Commerce President Della Wilson is thrilled to see how far the event has come over the years and eagerly points out how the culture has even spawned movies as well as a a television show that could be featured in the near future on the History Channel.

She said she’s known for years what noodling is but plans to leave the fish-catching techniques to the professionals.

For those competing in the noodling event in both natural or scuba fishing, they will be able to take home prizes like $100 cash/trophy for top female noodler, $100/trophy for 18 or younger, third runner up with a cash prize of $200, second runner up with a prize of $300, largest stringer with a prize of $400 and for grand prize of heaviest fish, a $1,000 prize will be awarded.

Of course, for those who don’t quite make the biggest weight class there will also be a trophy for smallest fish.

Early registration has already passed for the event, but one can register up to the morning of the tournament for $50 a person.

To participate, noodlers must obey Oklahoma Wildlife regulations, fish must be caught within 24 hours of the event, fish must be alive, there is no addition or trade-out of fish after initial weigh in, only three flathead catfish can be submitted per contestant and one must catch fish in the state.

“This rivals most other events, it’s the biggest single day event for our community,” said Wilson. “Okie Noodling is a spectator sport for me.”

For more information check out the noodling Web site at www.okienoodling.com or pick up registration forms/area information at http://www.paulsvalley.com/noodling.html.

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