Brad Harvey: Catching catfish for food, fun

June 10, 2013 

As the summer vacations begin for local students, I can’t help but be reminded of my youth when the excitement of wrapping up the school year was just bubbling within me.

For me, summer meant that, instead of rising early to head for class, I could take my time getting up, be as lazy as I wanted and spend countless hours out on the water soaking bait.

Back then, one of my favorite summertime activities was cat fishing. Each evening, I’d head out onto the dock with my rod, reel and bait, which consisted of just about any scrap I could dig out of the refrigerator because those cats just weren’t picky.

One of my favorites was taking chunks of cold hot dogs and threading them onto a hook because they were pretty good and staying on. Often, you could catch two or three catfish before you lost a hunk of hot dog.

I’ll have to admit that, as I’ve grown, I’ve spent less and less time catching catfish, but that’s something that I’m going to try and change while my daughter is on her summer break.

It’s bad enough that kids these days don’t get to experience many things that we did, such as using the now extinct pop tops from drink cans as a strike indicator or setting out catfish tires filled with cracked mussels to lure the fish into the trap.

But at least I can still get her out there and let her experience what summer nights were like in the days when any conversation that included the words “the net” meant that there was another big’un on the line and had nothing to do with a computer.

If you get the chance to wet a line yourself during the coming weeks, you might just want to give one of these great old catfish recipes a try.

I guarantee you’re gonna like ‘em.

Mustard Fried Cats

2 pounds catfish filets

Peanut oil

Minced garlic

Hot mustard

Tabasco or other hot sauce



Yellow cornmeal

Combine all of the seasonings, hot mustard and hot sauce to taste in a gallon-size plastic bag and shake the mixture well.

Place your catfish filets into the bag, seal it and toss them around to get them well covered with the contents.

Next, place the bagged filets into the refrigerator and allow to marinate for several hours if not overnight.

When ready to fry, drain the filets, dredge in the yellow cornmeal and deep fry or pan fry in a cast iron skillet until golden brown.

Catfish Casserole

Catfish filets (enough to cover the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish)


1 bell pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

2 cans shrimp soup

1 small can sliced mushrooms

Juice of 1 lemon

½ cup sherry

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 stick butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Soak your catfish filets in milk for several hours.

When ready to prepare, dredge the filets in flour, brown them in butter and then place the browned filets into the casserole dish.

Next, brown the chopped bell pepper and onion until limp. Pour in the soup, lemon juice, sherry, Worcestershire sauce along with the mushrooms and approximately one half of the liquid from the mushroom can. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the concoction well then pour over the filets then bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

Creamy Creole Catfish

4 catfish filets

½ cup tomato sauce

2 cups cream

2 cups white wine

3 tablespoons butter

¼ cup chopped shallots

Juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

A pinch of red or cayenne pepper

Season the filets with the salt, pepper and red or cayenne pepper to taste before placing them into a casserole or other heat proof dish.

Mix the butter, tomato sauce, lemon juice, white wine, shallots and 1 cup of the cream.

Pour this mixture over the fish, cover and simmer for around 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.

Carefully remove the filets and set them aside on a platter.

Add the other cup of cream to the remaining mixture, sprinkle in the parsley and bring to a boil.

Remove and let the sauce cool until it begins to thicken.

Pour over the fish and serve.

Catfish Cakes

1 pound catfish filets

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 egg

1 cup vegetable oil

2 ½ cups coarsely crushed crackers (Ritz works great!)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon of Duke’s mayonnaise

Place the catfish filets into a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until the fish flakes easily.

Drain off the water and, using a fork, mash the meat.

Stir in the mustard, Old Bay seasoning, egg, cracker meal, onion and Duke’s Mayo. (Remember, this is the South. It’s Duke’s or nothin’!)

Mix until evenly blended.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, cast iron or other heavy skillet.

Form the catfish mixture into patties and fry in the hot oil until golden brown.

Drain onto paper towels and serve.


Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at or follow on Twitter- @BHarveyOutdoors

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