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Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma

From: Scott Gurian
Length: 06:08

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An introduction to the tradition of noodling, the sport of catching giant catfish with your bare hands Read the full description.

Pict0080smaller_small Listeners take an afternoon trip down the North Canadian River near Watonga, Oklahoma with Thomas Riggs, a catfish noodler. Noodling is the time-honored tradition of catching giant (up to 60lb) catfish by reaching into the water and sticking your hand in the fish's mouth. We also visit the annual Okie Noodling Tournament as prizes are given for the biggest catches of the season.

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Piece Description

Listeners take an afternoon trip down the North Canadian River near Watonga, Oklahoma with Thomas Riggs, a catfish noodler. Noodling is the time-honored tradition of catching giant (up to 60lb) catfish by reaching into the water and sticking your hand in the fish's mouth. We also visit the annual Okie Noodling Tournament as prizes are given for the biggest catches of the season.

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Review of Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma

This is something to aspire towards. I must say pieces like this are special to me. Growing up around hunters and woodsmen like dudes. I can't help but feel connected to Thomas. Like he's a lost uncle.

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Review of Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma

"If you know what yer doin you kin git by pretty well okay. But you kin git drownded -- git on up in a hole, git hit by a fish, knocked out, and drown. There's several different ways."
-- Thomas Riggs, 38-year Noodling veteran.

It's hard to have this much fun in six minutes, but that's the trick of Scott Gurian's fish tale, "Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma". If Saveur magazine delivers "authentic" cuisine, Gurian serves up "authentic audio" here – plenty of splashing, panting, and shooting the breeze. Really, this story makes you proud to be American – you can add Thomas and his fish to your list with Mom and apple pie.

Okay, I'll admit it. Like Thomas Riggs, I "learnt myself" catfish noodling when I was a boy. (In the Yankee version you lay on your belly on the bank of a brook with hands numbingly submerged until the catfish swims into the slow eddy where you're camouflaged. Then, straight-armed and two-handed, you catapult him onto the grass, a flying, swimming, arching cat headed for dinner.) I was not, like Riggs, "hungry... and left standing by a set of railroad tracks in Jerome, Idaho, when I was 7". Rather, it was summertime, I didn't have a fishing pole, and, well, it just seemed like the right thing to do.

Which should be said about airing Scott Gurian's "Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma". It puts the "nation" back in NPR.

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Review of Catfish Noodling in Oklahoma

This is the sort of thing that makes you proud to be a part of the human race. The Annual Oakie Noodling Tournament ????
The amusing thing about this piece is that the narrator is SUCH a contrast to the protagonist voice. The stable guiding voiceup next to a force that is teeming with gusto. You want to know more of the noodler, but the narrator somehow pulls you back to the subject at hand. Irresistible.

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Broadcast History

Versions of this piece have aired on public radio station KGOU in Norman, Oklahoma and the syndicated program "Here and Now." This piece won several awards including first place in the North American Travel Journalists Association's 2004 "local lifestyle" award category and a 2006 RTNDA Edward R. Murrow National Award in the Radio Feature Reporting category, small market division.

Transcript

Suggested back-announce:

Scott Gurian is the News Director at public radio station KGOU in Norman, Oklahoma.
Read the full transcript

Musical Works

This piece doesn't have any music in it, but if you're planning on airing it, it would sound really cool to follow it with the beginning of "Rolling Stone" (aka "Catfish Blues"), which has been recorded by Muddy Waters and tons of other blues singers. The lyrics start: "I wish I was a catfish, swimming in the deep blue sea. I'd have all these good lookin' women, fishing after me."

Additional Files

Related Website

http://www.kgou.org/programming_okvoices.php