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Noodling tournament brings in big fish

MEDICINE PARK, Okla._Nineteen teams battled to see who could bring home a trophy for the biggest catfish at the 4th annual Noodling Tournament in Medicine Park.

Competitors traveled from as far away as Louisiana to show off their biggest catfish. The four categories of the competition include flat-headed catfish, blue-catfish, women's and children's. The catfish that were brought in to be weighed for the competition were anywhere from about 20 pounds to almost 50 pounds.

Heather Bivins, 24, says she started noodling at about 8 o'clock this morning in Cotton County to catch her 41-pound blue catfish.

"I am proud of what I turned in. I worked hard. The weather wasn't good. I fished all day in the rain today so I did what I could. I am proud of it," said Bivins.

The first catfish she ever caught weighed in at 53 pounds.

"It's an adrenaline rush. You know you get to go out and get an adrenaline rush and you get to feed your family with it as well," said Bivins.

Bivins says she is a noodling guide and it is a sport that runs in her family.

"It is a tradition passed down through my family. My dad done it. His dad did it and his dad did it so it's just a family tradition," said Bivins.

Bivins says to catch a big fish it's a little bit of luck mixed with skill and knowledge of the sport.

"A lot of people go in headfirst. I don't go in headfirst, I use my feet. So I do it a little different than most people," said Bivins.

Event organizer Jesse Dalton is an avid noodler himself. He says for the fourth year of the tournament they are giving out bigger prizes than they have given in previous years.

"This year we have $3,350 in prizes so it's a bigger tournament and a bigger pay out," said Dalton.

Whether they caught a catfish or not those attending the event were mesmerized by the massive trophies these noodlers brought in, but Bivins says it is very important to know what you are doing.

"It's not something you know you see it on TV all the time and you know oh well i could do that it looks easy but you do have to know what you are doing. It is a dangerous sport so don't go by yourself," said Bivins.

Bivins won first place in the blue catfish category with her fish weighing in at 41.2 pounds.

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