Lucy Millsap, a 19-year-old former cheerleader from Texas, is the first woman to win the Okie Noodling Tournament in Pauls Valley, Okla. Millsap beat out 200 competitors to win first place and $1,500 in the Big Fish category after catching a 72-pound flathead catfish at the 14th running of the annual festival.
For those who may not be familiar with the sport, noodling, which is most popular in the Southern states of the U.S., is the act of bare-hand fishing for flathead catfish. A successful noodle takes place when the fish latches onto the arm as a defensive measure, which allows the noodler to bring the fish in.
Millsap is a member of a larger group of female noodlers who call themselves the Bare Knuckle Babes. “Women don't think they can do a lot of stuff. And you get a lot of trash talk from the guys,” Millsap told NewsOK. “I'm proud to justify the name Bare Knuckle Babes.”
But while this was the first noodling competition and the first win for the Texas teen, the road to first place hasn’t been an easy one. Millsap told NewsOK that she has paid a number of visits to the emergency room for noodling-related injuries. Furthermore, she’s apparently catching a lot of heat for taking spotlight in the predominantly male sport.
"There was a lot of trash talk at the event," Millsap told local Oklahoma news outlet 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? Thirty pounds? I thought so. Nice to meet you, too.'"
GrindTV reports that Millsap's enormous fish was the largest caught in the tournament's 14-year history.
My name is Carey Vanderborg and I'm a journalist working in New York City. I love food, travel, craft beer, live music and writing about all of the above.