Levi Bennett thought the big one had gotten away.
Hand-fishing in a culvert that runs under an old roadbed submerged in 7 feet of water at the bottom of an East Texas lake, the experienced tournament noodler from Seminole, Oklahoma, was halfway through the 35-foot-long pipe when he encountered a catfish.
“I felt it and got my hand on it, and it was an absolute giant,” he says. “But plain and simple that fish whooped my ass. Just wore me out.”
The catfish escaped out the same end of the culvert that Bennett entered. He followed it out and surfaced. His wife, Kodi Bennett, a three-time winner of the women’s division at the Okie Noodling Tournament, was blocking the opposite end of the pipe with fellow noodler Jimmy Millsap.
“Kodi and Jimmy were both looking at me like I’m an idiot,” Levi Bennett recalls. “I said, ‘He’s gone.’ I was mad.”
“No, he’s right here,” Kodi told her husband. “He just bumped my foot. Get back in…