No rods, reels or hooks for the 'Bare Knuckle Babes'

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by TED MADDEN / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on August 22, 2013 at 7:33 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 22 at 7:33 AM

LAKE TAWAKONI — It's 100 degrees in East Texas, and the girls from The Bare Knuckle Babes are going fishing.

No fishing poles. No lures. No equipment of any kind.

These girls are "noodlers." They catch catfish with their bare hands.

"You don't understand the rush," explained Crystal Staggs. "It's like... people think we're crazy — and maybe we are — but it's a lot of fun!"

Lucy Millsap, 19, is as good at this as anyone. In June, she won the 14th annual Okie Noodling Tournament, getting a record 72-pound fish (and her 15 minutes of fame).

"It's more interesting, it's more fun," she said. "There's nothing like sitting on a boat waiting for a fish; why not go to the fish?"

Jennifer Drake is the manager of The Bare Knuckle Babes.

"We went to Yahoo.com's cover page, and there was Lucy's picture, with the 72-pound catfish," she said. "And just to think this 19-year-old cheerleader from Quinlan, Texas — who's been doing this her whole life since she was five years old — pulls out this fish, and now she's on the cover of this international, basically, World Wide Web page... it was shocking. It was shocking."

Lucy grew up noodling with her Dad, even though until two years ago, the sport was illegal in Texas.

"You know, it's quite the experience to be doing this my whole life kind of as an underground -- an underground, outlaw [sport]. It wasn't legal, so everything we did, it was hiding it, worrying about not getting in trouble," she said. "That was the goal: Don't go out there and get caught. And to be able to walk up on stage and show off my fish and show off what I'd done, it was a good moment."

On this night, Lucy is in the water for only about 20 minutes before she catches a big one — so big, in fact, that it broke the scale they used to weigh it.

The fish Lucy caught was more than 40 pounds, which is huge... but it's still 30 pounds lighter than the one she caught in Oklahoma.

 

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