Title:  Okie Noodling

Release Date: 2001

Nationality and Language:  USA, English

Running time: 57  min

MPAA Rating:  (PG)

Distributor and Production Company:  PBS/Little League Pictures

Director; Writer:  Bradley Beesley  (present at the screening in Minneapolis in the Suburban Theater in Uptown in 2001)

Producer:  Bradley Beesley

Cast:  Jerry Rider, Red Baggett, Dave Baggett, Lee McFarlin, Bradley Beesley, David Letterman (cameo appearance, long before he publicly joined the zipper club)


Relevance to HPPUB site:


  Noodling” refers to the sport of catching fresh-water fish (usually large catfish) by bare hands, usually by using one’s fist as bait. It’s pretty macho, with “okie” men here bragging about their scars from the “fistings” and near-drownings. They carry out their sport in artificial lakes and ponds, sometimes chasing the fish under culverts and bridges. The fish can live for more than two hours in the air after capture. Towards the end, they finally stage a noodling “tournament.” Most of the film is shot in the Wichita Mountains area near Lawton, Oklahoma. Noodling is legal only in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Lousiana. Beesley bears almost all with a cameo appearance at the end (he brags from the stage, “I am tremendously hairy” [yeah, like Stephen King in his own movie cameo appearances]; most of the other participants are not; they are too battle-worn.)


When I was a grad student at KU (University of Kansas, Jayhawks) in the 60s, the students in the dorm referred to Oklahoma residents as “Okies” and provincial. This is not the Oklahoma of the Todd-AO R&H musical (well, maybe the cowboy and the farmer can be friends, but not with the noddler).


Some pictures from the event are at http://saxton.d2g.com:12345/photos/20020404-OkieNoodling/


This film has been shown on PBS several times.


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