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I bought this DVD on a hunch...I am a fairly avid fisherman, but had never heard of people wrestling catfish out of holes and wrestling them w/ their bare hands!! It is totally bada$$ to watch. I would HIGHLY(wink, wink)recommend this documentary to all who enjoy the unusual, and strange things that make 'Merica the beautiful country she is. It's nice to see a documentary about the blue collar and truthful side of this country, not to mention how utterly insane it is to watch generations of Oklahoma men(and on woman too!)pull 70 pound catfish out of the water barehanded. PLEASE CHECK THIS OUT.
My dad used to work with this guy when he worked for the railroad
who was missing part of his pinky finger. Both his hands would
sometimes be riddled with scabs and scrapes when I'd see him
while visiting my father at the depot. He was a noodler. Cuts,
scrapes, missing digits and toes (he also had less toe than
normal because of his hobby) are all part of what it means to be a
noodler. What is noodling? It is the little known art of catching giant
sized catfish with nothing but your bare hands and feet while
submerging yourself in muddy creeks, rivers and lakes and letting
the catfish clamp down on whatever it feels like chomping. It's part
fishing, part swimming, part hunting, part wrestling and part crazy
to the uninitiated.
Okie Noodling is a terrific slice of Americana documentary that flaunts its ruralness with pride. I'm an Okie, born and raised in the eastern part of the state. I've never noodled but have relatives who do and have dined on their catch willingly and with glee at the tastiness of the catfish fried up good and right. I like the fact that Okie Noodling was obviously made by Oklahomans who never condescend or wink smugly to the camera as sometimes happens with Americana based docs. Music by The Flaming Lips too.
I stumbled into this little gem one late night on a cable educational channel, of all places. I watched as the scenes unfolded, and couldn't believe what I was seeing! To watch these men pull MONSTER catfish out of murky holes with their bare hands, fish so large it took 3 men to get them into the boat, it was an amazing spectacle. I told my father-in-law about this movie, and he was sure I had made it all up. I was happy to find this posting to prove my story, and I intend to purchase the movie for his next Christmas gift! Bottom line: This movie is too weird and fantastic to be missed by anybody who likes the offbeat and outdoor sports.
After the documentary OKIE NOODLING debuted, the public's knowledge of fishing for monster catfish by hand has become widespread--even though up until this film practically no one outside of Oklahoma and a few other Southern states had ever heard of this bizarre practice. As a result of OKIE NOODLING, shows like "Dirty Jobs" and other documentaries on the topic have emerged--and people all across America are mesmerized by these odd fishermen! Unlike boring normal fishing, a 'noodler' is a guy who likes swimming and diving in reservoirs for giant catfish with no rod. Instead, the goal is to get the monster fish to bite the noodlers and then the noodler wrestles the fish to the shore or a waiting boat. Pretty macho and crazy stuff, as noodlers are occasionally drowned in the process and I sure as heck would not want to catch a flathead or blue cat this way!! In addition to a very interesting topic, the film excels by creating excitement and interest in this bizarre subculture without mocking these people. Instead, it's like a visit to new friends who take you out for a day's fun. Amazing.
Noodling, also referred to as handfishing, is a sport and since it
is legally recognized in several states, a sanctioned one to boot that few
of us have heard of and far fewer of us would want to try. Basically we are
talking here of groping around along creek banks and nabbing river catfish.
But this documentary brings us an appreciation of the participants and just
how, using current vernacular, extreme an activity has been filmed by
director Bradley Beesley.
Not technically the best movie we have seen (lighting is an issue at times, for example) we nonetheless are entranced as we meet and follow the noodlers. Most certainly nearly 100% of these anglers are men; that demographic would also seem to include white men somewhere in the middle class, or at least that is the group we follow throughout.
Described by all participants as the most visceral of fishing experiences, they all have a common trait absolute dedication to catching catfish by hand. No one would surmise so many miles of creek, river and lake shores are even extant in Oklahoma, but we find noodlers groping in and wading along a goodly portion of it. The picture we are left with is a man mostly submerged feeling with his hands along the bank.
The fish (river catfish are BIG, 60 pound fish being the top end in the size category) are caught by plunging an arm into its mouth and reaching around until the gills are firmly grasped. Therefore most of the forearm up to the elbow is engaged. This is as personal as one can get with a slimy river critter. Having been plunged into as primordial a situation (a palpably fetid and organic creek bank in the steamy Oklahoma summertime) as can be found in the U.S. adds to the - well, charm.
This is easily one of the best domestic documentaries we have seen in recent years. Like snake handling (which is mentioned), we always feel we are viewing the activities of almost cult-like devotees. Listening carefully to Jerry the custodian, the father-son (Red and Dave) team, wives of noodlers and Lee Baggett and find compulsive behavior explained by the masters. The organization towards the end of the film of a tournament (arranged just like any fishing tournament) gives the perfect touch as it focuses our attention on the reaction (and apparent discomfort) of loners now competing within their formerly very private ranks.
Rating: 3.5 Stars.
As an avid fan of unusual things, this takes the cookie. Beesley is a native and has created some of the best documentaries I have seen in a while. Check out Hill Stomp Holler and his camera work with the Flaming Lips.
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