What can you tell me about Skipper Bivins and Jackson Trent from “Hillbilly Handfishin’”? What a hoot!
—John Redmond, Baton Rogue, La.
The Walters, Okla.-born Bivins, 49, has been noodling [catching catfish with bare hands or feet] for as long as he can remember, and he is happy to brag about it. “It’s a family tradition that was passed down from one generation to the next. My grandpa taught my dad, my dad taught me and I’m teaching my children. We’ve been doing it so long I don’t ever really remember not knowing how. So, I guess we were taught pretty well and at an early age.”
The biggest fish ever caught by Bivins, a five-time world champion Okie noodler, was 111 pounds. He and JoAnn, his wife of more than 20 years, and their two children had started a noodling-exhibition company, Big Fish Adventures, based in Temple, Okla., where they now live. But due to the popularity of “Hillbilly Handfishin’,” they have had to temporarily put it on hold.
Jackson Trent, 51, a native of Temple, Okla., and self-proclaimed “cowboy at heart,” met Bivins when he was 28. “We grew up about 10 miles apart and had heard of each other,” he says. “We ran into each other on the creek fishing. We were tired of fishing behind each other, so we teamed up. It’s been an amazing friendship and it’s turned into something that is good for us and our families.”
Trent’s biggest catch to date was an 85-pound catfish. Prior to “Hillbilly Handfishin’” he built industrial equipment for refineries, a job which took him around the world.