Hillbilly Handfishin': Creepy crawly critters part of noodling in Oklahoma

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

As policeman Dave learns, sometimes Hillbilly Handfishin' can cure contestants of long-held fears and phobias.

Hillbilly Handfishin’ brings all kinds of personalities to the water on Animal Planet—and this week was no exception.

This week’s rookies included Dave and Matt, police officers from Pittsburgh. Dave’s biggest challenge?

“Probably for me, snakes and spiders—they creep me out a little bit,” he said.

Why is it the biggest guys are always scared of the creepy crawly critters?

“He’s as big as a house,” Skipper said.

“Obviously, Dave, he’s the guy that runs in and knocks the door down and grabs everyone single-handedly," Jackson observed. "I don’t quite believe that this man is scared of spiders,” he added.

The rookies also included Brenda and Elizabeth, cocktail waitresses from Reno. Brenda’s biggest fear for the trip?

“Not being able to see the monsters underneath that murky water,” she said.

“I want to go Hillbilly Handfishin’ because it sounds really like an exciting adventure,” Elizabeth said. “I’m a little nervous about some of those big fish, but I think we can handle it.”

“Brenda and Elizabeth, I’m looking at them and I’m thinking they were Mouseketeers when they were kids, I think,” Jackson said.

Alex and Mike are Russian dancers from New Jersey.

“My biggest fear is getting smacked by a beaver’s tail,” Alex said. “The reason I want to go Hillbilly Handfishin’ is because I’m stuck in this studio 24/7.”

“Alex and I love to go fishing,” Mike said, “but we never went noodling. So, something new to try.”

Jackson had been expecting ladies, he said, to be getting out of the van as the “ballroom dancers,” but, oh, well.

And the Noodling Begins

On Day One, the ladies started by showering and curling their hair—well, okay. But, everyone seemed excited to get going.

“Say your prayers, get right with the world,” Skipper warned them, “some of us may not be coming back.”

Brenda was right with her assessment of fun-loving hosts Skipper and Jackson: Pranksters.

Dave, Mike and Brenda (Wacky Noodlers) ended up on one team, and Alex, Elizabeth and Matt (Russian Catfish Hunters) on another.

Spiders—lots of spiders around the creek. Needless to say, Dave was not excited about that. But, Brenda was definitely the most terrified—so, naturally Skipper chose her to go first. Screams, screeches and a few bites later, Brenda did get her fish—22 pounds of blue cat.

Alex was up next. He was terrified, and kept pulling back, but when a fish finally clamped on—well, his teammates tried to encourage him, but, in the end, Alex’s fish only gave the Russian Catfish Hunters three pounds on their team total.

Matt actually caught a blue cat with an open-water catch, which got him a 10-pound bonus. So, with the 30-pound catch, the Russian Catfish Hunters were up on the Wacky Noodlers, 43 pounds to 22.

Day Two, Mike got the day started. He wrestled a huge blue cat out of the water—38 pounds. His catch put the Wacky Noodlers back in the lead, 60 pounds to 43.

A storm kicked up, ending the noodling for the day. But, on Day Three, the skies cleared up, and it was time to get everyone a chance to do some noodling. Skipper and Jackson called on Elizabeth and, although she was scared to death, she performed like a trooper for her team.

“It hurt, and it hurt and it hurt some more,” Elizabeth said of her noodling experience.

It wasn’t a giant fish—eight pound blue cat—but it was hard fought.

And it was time for Dave.

“Dave comes in commando-style,” Skipper says, “just like he’s fixin’ to crash down the door on a police bust.”

He didn’t even notice the spider lurking nearby.

A few minutes and a few bites later, Dave had himself a monster—a 58-pound blue cat. Wow—a giant fish for a giant guy, putting the Wacky Noodlers on top, 118 pounds to only 51 for the Russian Catfish Hunters. But, Skipper and Dave gave the underdogs one more shot, giving Alex another opportunity to catch a decent-sized fish. This time, Alex caught a good one—well until it got away. It started fightin’ and floppin’, and it was just gone, off the line. It was probably a 50-60 pound fish, Jackson said, but, as Skipper said, “No weigh-in, no pounds.”

Wacky Noodlers Take the Trophies

“The Wacky Noodlers took it home this time,” Alex said, “but the Russian Catfish Hunters, we got more style.”

The Wacky Noodlers got their trophies and Dave got a great big spider, courtesy of pranksters Skipper and Jackson. But, he was not scared of his new “belt buckle.”

“Being out in the water with you guys and seeing all of these things around, I’m no longer scared of them,” Dave said.

As Skipper says, it’s all about the journey.

Hillbilly Handfishin’ airs on Animal Planet on Sunday nights at 8 p.m.

Image: Animal Planet

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