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Noodling With TU Football's Mike Bryan

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Bryan and his best friend Rodney trying to get a catfish in the boat. Bryan and his best friend Rodney trying to get a catfish in the boat.
Bryan led the Golden Hurricane in solo tackles and total tackles last season. Bryan led the Golden Hurricane in solo tackles and total tackles last season.
Bryan's girlfriend, Brittany, bringing in a fish. Bryan's girlfriend, Brittany, bringing in a fish.
Bryan's bloody hands. Bryan's bloody hands.

By Kyle Dierking, NewsOn6.com

UNDATED -- It's often a painful reminder poking at his feet.

"You'd think I'd wear shoes after all the years I've done this. I've cut my foot so many times but I haven't learned yet," Mike Bryan says.

It's easy to forget about foot pain, when you're trying to barrel a big ‘ol catfish.  

"Oh crap he's working me over," Bryan says as he wrestles with a catfish. "That's all I know."

Making tackles on the football field for the University of Tulsa is one of his pastimes, then there's Bryan's other hobby.

"Get his mouth off my hands. He's biting down," Bryan yells as he tries to shake a large catfish into the boat.

Noodling.

"We do go fishing with a fishing pole," Bryan says as he navigates his parent's boat. "That's only when the bitin's real good or we're just wasting time."

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So instead of waiting for a fish to take the bait, Bryan is  the bait. He goes under water, sticks his bare hand in a hole and hopes that a catfish will cling on and become his next big catch.

"You can hardly see anything. It's like being in a dark room and going to stick your arm in a closet and let somethin' grab you," Bryan says.  "Ninety percent of the time it's a fish, but every once in a while you'll find a turtle, maybe a snake, beavers if you want to get up around that type of stuff. It's always kind of the unknown."

One thing's for sure - his hands are callused, beaten, sometimes bloody - from farm work and football, but mostly noodling.

"We're in this water for 30 minutes or an hour and your skin gets so dang soft," Bryan says, showing his bloodied hands. "It's not real hard to tear it up."

Bryan usually brings along a few helping hands - his bestfriend Rodney and girlfriend Brittany.

"I'd rather come out noodling than go out to eat and the movies," Brittany says.

"I probably won't find another one like her, I know that," Bryan says, similing. "That's why I'm holding on to her."

Together, the trio brings eight beastly fish back to shore - a seemingly successful day for any fisherman.

"We didn't really get a whole lot of big fish," Bryan says. "A lot of fish but nothing too big."

As the country boy from Coweta cuts and cleans his catches, he knows his noodling season will soon be over as another football season begins.

"I've only got one year of football left. I have a lifetime of noodling," Bryan says. "So, right now it's football I guess."

[Editor's Note: This story was originally set to air on the July 26 edition of the Oklahoma Sports Blitz. Because of the passing of Mike's father, Rick, the story did not air out of respect for the Bryan family.]

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