By: Tanya Andrews | Category: Recreation/Leisure | Issue: May 2013
Champion Noodler Kaleb Summers.
Claremore is known for its many Oklahoma legends. Legends like Will Rogers, Patti Page, Lynn Riggs and “Oklahoma!”, Andy Payne, Stuart Roosa, and J.M. Davis all bring fame to Claremore and visitors from around the world. Cowboys, Grammy Award winners, astronauts, and gun collectors, now champion noodler?
Kaleb Summers, Claremore native, and team STOadventures, won the 2012 OKIE Noodling Tournament in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. He has worn many hats in his young life, including graduate of Oklahoma State University, boxer, steer wrestler, hunting and fishing guide, and part of the blasting team in his family’s construction business, so adding noodler to his resume comes naturally.
Possibly a like-character to Will Rogers, only his tricks are with flathead catfish and not with ropes, Kaleb’s home is the outdoors of northeastern Oklahoma. His noodling experience started in southeast Oklahoma when a friend took him fishing and he soon learned how to decipher between fish holes and beaver holes, while studying the tricks to find the flatheads.
Wikipedia defines noodling as fishing for catfish using only bare hands, practiced primarily in the southern United States. A noodler places his hand inside a discovered catfish hole. Other sources, such as urbandictionary.com, describe it as a crazy person using their fingers as bait to catch a catfish.
Kaleb is not “crazy” but is an avid hunter and fisherman whose life has revolved around the preservation of a fading lifestyle that once used to be the norm. “To release a trophy fish reveals a rather strong kind of character, for as sportsmen, we sometimes owe it to our quarry to live to fight another day. After all, the true thrill lies solely in the fight underwater,” says Kaleb. It was a big fight in June of 2012 when Kaleb and his team fought a flathead weighing over 70 pounds (70.46 to be exact) and won the tournament. Their winning fish was the largest on record for the 14-year event.
Kaleb and STOadventures, along with Visit Claremore, Claremore Expo Center, NABATAK OUTDOORS, K95 and Fox 23, Summers Drilling & Blasting, Value News, Osage Casino, GRDA, Melton’s Sales, Pixley Lumber Company, Warren Cat, Reasors, Wild Country Meats, and BancFirst will host the “Battle of the Big Cats…Route 66’s Richest Noodling Showdown” coming June 13-15. A total of $10,000 in cash in prizes will be awarded, with $5,000 going to the contestant/team with the “BIG” fish.
Contestants must be entered by Wednesday, June 12 at noon. They can then check-in to start scouting and fishing at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 13 and go until weigh-in on Saturday at 6 p.m. Contestants must be in the weigh-in line at the Claremore Expo Center by 6 p.m. and report to event staff, or be disqualified. Entry fees are $50 per person and are available online at www.stoadventures.net, www.visitclaremore.org, or in person at NABATAK OUTDOORS or the Claremore Expo Center. Contestants can fish any lake, such as Grand Lake or Hudson, or any river they wish to. Winners will be announced at 6:30 p.m. and entertainment will continue afterward for the crowds to enjoy.
The public is invited to come out to the Expo on Friday and enjoy a fish fry, live entertainment, and a variety of vendors at the Claremore Expo Center. The tradeshow will open at noon and the fish fry and entertainment will start around 6 p.m. Throughout Friday and Saturday, Kaleb will show his skills in several noodling exhibitions in a 3,000-gallon tank. Spectators and fans will enjoy entertainment provided by A Bar Bunkhouse Band and other performers to be named. Music, tradeshow, exhibitions, and being present for the contestants’ check-ins is all free to the public!
“Visit Claremore is elated to work with Kaleb and the various partners to bring this great event to our hometown,” says Tanya Andrews, executive director. “Claremore is proud to have one of our own want to share their experience and bring a competition here. Kaleb sees that an event of this nature will bring visitors, competitors, and residents from Oklahoma and the region, and he is excited about showcasing his hometown. He is a great ambassador of Claremore and of Oklahoma!”
A full event schedule, information, contestant entry forms, and tradeshow vendor registrations are available for the Battle of the Big Cats at www.stoadventures.net or www.visitclaremore.org, or by calling (918) 341-8688.
400 Veterans Parkway | Claremore, OK 74017