Watercolor and pen and ink drawing

Watercolor and pen and ink drawing by Peg


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Learning to Like CatFish

June 1, 2011

Texoma (area along the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma)

I'm an East Coast kinda gal. I love seafood. Maryland and Maine Seafood that is. The plainer the better. Depending on which I have just finished eating, I prefer lobster or blue crab. In Maine, it's lobster with melted butter and lemon, in Maryland it's blue crab steamed with Old Bay Seasoning. This is not to ignore the tender fried clams that have brought me orgiastic pleasure. Yes, I will have another dozen please. And oysters? Gibson Island on the Chesapeake Bay used to have an annual oyster roast.. raw, in a creamy stew, barbecued, fried... Ah, but I digress, and I haven't even mentioned the mussels at Jakes's in NYC.

Denison DamI'm here in the mid, mid-west now. Camped about 25 feet above the Red River and below the 165' high Denison Dam. I can stand on the bank outside our camper door and watch the catfish swim back upstream after the dam releases its flow every afternoon. It is a daily migration of sorts. osprey, eagles, great blue herons, snowy and great egrets and all styles of men are clued in and gather along and above the river and dam to fish for food. Stripped bass, carp, drum, crappie are just some of the over 70 species of fish that are caught here. But the real fisherman's delight, the KING fish so to speak, is the catfish. There are a couple of different kinds...and I can now tell a flathead catfish from a channel catfish... I think. They are fierce to look it. And my response to all Siluriformes I have seen so far is, "Eeeuw"!

CatfishCatfish is popular eating in this area...popular like a Big Mac is popular. The men who fish at the dam rave about how delicious catfish are. "Fry 'em up with some hush puppies - ain't nothing better." Compiling the suggestions of Ted, Jerome, Will, Juan and many others we set forth to eat catfish at their top three suggested fried catfish dinning establishments.

First on the list was Windy's. It was on Route 91 just across the dam in Oklahoma. A nondescript white building with no signage; we figured we must be there because so many cars were parked in the adjoining lot. Walking in we were told the fillets were huge today and not to order the platter of 4. Bernie ordered the platter of 4, and I ordered 3.  First thing they put on the table was a plate full of thick sliced raw onion and a bowl of sweet tomato pickles. A few minutes later the golden fried catfish with golden fried potatoes and dark golden fried hush puppies arrived. We ate all that fried stuff with the raw onions and tomato pickles washed down by a couple of cans of Miller Lite. We did notice a small neon open sign in a side window as we left. A digestively noisy night was lying ahead for us...

Next on the list was Huck's, a more upscale establishment out on the main highway to Dallas. This time the onions came sliced with little plastic lidded condiment cups containing relish and tartar sauce. There were also sides of slaw and potato salad and under the heap o' fried catfish lurked the usual little pile of hush puppies. Way too much to eat and no beer. On the rating scale, Bernie preferred Hucks to Windy's. I like the place with the beer.

And today, we took our final journey to what some perceived as the best catfish place in the area. On Fridays and Saturdays only, Speed's Live Bait, Tackle, Pizza  and Notary Shop serves a fried catfish buffet for lunch. The place was busy with friends and family chomping down on the fried fish, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, and corn bread. Everything was homemade and all the vegetables were well steamed. Bernie took steamed fries and mashed them into his whipped potatoes and poured gravy on top. (I am so proud.) Best of all there were some juicy tender bar-B-Q ribs under the warming lights. Well, maybe best of all was the homemade banana, nilly-wafer pudding.

Catfish HotSpots Around Denison

If anyone decides to go fishing for catfish, Ted's bait recipe will be needed

Ted's Recipe for Stinky Stuff Bait
Stinky Stuff Bait1/4 cow brains
1/4 cow liver
1/4 cow fat
1/4 cheese (Velveeta preferred)
Enough cattail fuzz to bind

Stir it all together and store in a plastic bucket. Do not refrigerate and for god's sake keep it covered.

That's it. Catfish is not bad. It is simply white and tasteless and if it were not a deep fat fried white thing, I doubt if anyone would eat it. (Well, Bernie loves it. Loves it!)

Breaking news from the State of Texas:

Great hearing from you.  Go Further. 

Ed K.

You are in what we call "flyover" country, which most people never visit. Well, judging by your chronicles, they sure are missing a lot!  


I like those Cats too and Rod has a pond full in FL.  His wife, Susan tosses some dog food in the shallow area and grabs them when they come for it.
I wouldn't believe that either if I had not watched.
Sounds like you are still having fun.


Is that Bernie with a beard holding the fish?


Stan, Bernie has been close to that hairy, but never so thin.

Loved the story! Maybe not the bait recipe - ugh! All these years I thought it was Wendy's. Hmmph. Glad you got it right. The drawings are great.


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