Doesn't anyone like catfish?

Joined Nov 6, 2004
   Why is catfish getting a bad rap?  

  It seems nearly every person I've talked to about eating fish all have a similar view about catfish.  Yuk, I don't care for catfish at all...give me any other fish to eat instead of catfish!

   Then, usually I'm making either catfish poorboys, catfish nuggets, blackened catfish and they certainly eat a whole bunch of it.  Now, I grew up eating catfish fishing in the river, at my grampa's, or from one of the fishing clubs.  I'll admit that catfish that are too large and too old get gamey and they start to get an excess of that yellowish fat.  When I cook I'll always get fresh catfish too, never frozen or pumped with additional "flavors" or water solutions.

   I'll certainly continue to eat catfish and enjoy it, as will my family.  But why, why does catfish get a bad rap? 

   Could it have been something against Jim Hunter?  Batter'up!



Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I like catfish, particularly compared to trout. I know that's heresy to many.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
We're definately talking to different people, Dan. Although neither Friend Wife nor I particularly care for catfish, we're in a distinct minority. I don't know anyone else who doesn't swear by it.

I'm not just talking here in the South. When I lived in northern Illinois it was the second most favored fish (nothing's gonna displace walleye, I reckon).

Now then, if you want to talk about a bad (and undeserved) rap, you talk carp.

Who is Jim Hunter?


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
I like it.  I'm trying to think of this one buffet place we used to go to in Champaign/Urbana where they had whole fried catfish.  I always ate two.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies//smile.gif
Joined Jul 30, 2007
i love catfish...almost anything can be done to it.....where i grew up, they were called' bottom feeders', but heck, so are lawyers! maybe the stigma is that its a poor persons fish that needs lots of breading, frying,and heavy sauces hence po boys ,fish and chips, nuggets like hush puppies etc, which it doesn't of course.....i would call those folks snobs, cuz maybe catfish ain't as trendy as tuna or organic salmon or artic char, or chilean sea bass...narrow mindedness, on their part.....too bad! they lose...

Joined Nov 6, 2004
     I actually like catfish better than trout too, phatch.  I've eaten carp on a few occasions when I was younger, I could remember being surprised at how decent it tasted, it wasn't bad at all.  I wonder if they started selling Asian carp at bluefin prices if people would drive it to the brink of extinction.  Maybe I should contact the Asian Carp Czar about the idea?

  I'll have to look up the restarant in Champaign/Urbana kuan.  I don't go through there often, but I'll keep it in mind if we do.  KYh, I haven't always noticed this negative talk about catfish before either.  I almost got the impression that people were jumping on the bandwagon of, what they believe to be, a popular view.  I found it a little odd that this negative catfish talk seemed to be growing in popularity.  It's been happening more and more over the last tow years (or so) and seemed a bit strange.

   Jim "Catfish" Hunter was actually a major league pitcher back in the 60's and 70's.  I could remember going to Sears, Roebuck and Co. to buy his autographed sporting goods.  Jim is stricly non-related to the topic, except in name.

   happy fishin'!

Joined Mar 21, 2008
While my preference is for walleye or northern pike I eat catfish quite often. It is a very affordable fish that can be cooked in a bunch of ways. I used to make a smoked catfish dip for poker parties and everyone loved it. I have had carp a few times and it is okay but a tad oily for my taste.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
Wild, channel cat can be pretty rank, depending on its environment and diet.  They'll certainly swim among and eat the sorts of things you, as the top predator, don't want anywhere near your foodchain.  That combination of taste and the ewwwwww factor explains its bad rep. 

Farm raised catfish is usually very good indeed, and useful for all sorts of things -- not just as a sweetwater fish either.  For instance, it works for all of the recipes you might try for huachinango (red snapper), as well as many of the things you'd do with haddock and cod.  It's got a nice rich, firmness, and resists becoming too flaky or dry. 

The American catfish industry is trying to rebrand domestically farmed fish as "Delacata."

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Joined Dec 23, 2000
Hey, Dan...

I too spent some time with my grandfather helping him  run his trotline set on the Quivre River just outside Troy, MO. We had a lot of catfish. As I remember, they were were mostly fried. Good memories, and iI have never had any problems with catfish - except I'm wary of farmed ones.

I like it as just as  well as cod for fish and chips.

Mike  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif
Joined Aug 26, 2010
Finally a topic I know something about.  Catfish are certainly not picky about what they eat.  However, the old wisdom was to find the deepest part of the lake and that's where the catfish are.  Actually, catfish are quite aggressive at times (can be caught on spinnerbaits when trying to catch bass).  One of the good ways to catch winter cats is under the birds.  They are there to catch bird droppings. 

Now, here's the bad about cats...

1.  Channel cats have a fat line right near the spine.  It's disgusting, but anyone worth a flip cuts that thin line off.  It's only a few millimeters wide, but it can ruin a good fried filet. 

2.  Blue cats are quite fatty once they get past about 8 or 10 pounds.  I'm told if one knows how to butcher the fish correctly, the meat can be okay, but there's more waste because of it.  The great news is that blue cats don't start breeding until near 10 pounds, so releasing the larger fish helps sustain the population anyway!

3.  Flatheads are supposed to be tasty up to any size. 

The majority of catfish eaters are from the south.  The majority of southerners believe that frying is the preferred cooking method for ANY food.  Mix those two together and you get fried catfish as the preferred cooking method. 

A word of caution about buying catfish "nuggets" in the grocery store.  They are the belly flaps and are often the worst tasting part of the fish.  This is why the nuggets are so cheap at the grocery store. 
Joined Feb 26, 2007
I don't understand the dislike for catfish, perhaps they are different here.   And most certainly the young ones are better. I find them to be a very sweet fish when filleted properly and just simply fried in butter and oil with S&P.  I am guessing it reflects on the waters in various locations.  I am very happy to catch and prepare one when (if!) I catch one or two and make a good meal of it.

Even though I prefer salt water fish, the catfish is an exception.  But carp - no thanks.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
I will take farm raised over wild for consistency purposes. I have had various wilds that taste different. As BDL states I think it is due to their varied diets. I am not saying it is better, but for feeding the public, I think it more suitable.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
But carp - no thanks.

DC, is that based on experience? Or merely bias?
KYH - based on experience.  Have fished and caught both in the Murray River here.  Tried cooking the carp but it just tasted like mud.  I guess with our 10 year drought the rivers were pretty full of silt, so it reflected in the flavours.  The catfish came out ahead of the carp by a long shot in terms of edibility.

If you catch a carp here, it's actually illegal to throw it back.  So, when you go fishing, the banks are covered in dead and squished carp.  Lovely to behold. But they have taken over the river systems to such an extent that many fish that were to be had are now very rare, such as the Murray Cod, which will not ring many bells with many people.  However, you used to be able to catch 50#  + beauties.  No longer is it the case. But yes, to me, here, catfish is nice /img/vbsmilies/smilies//smile.gif
Joined Nov 6, 2004
   Hey Mike,  Sounds like we may share some similar experiences with catfish. When I think of catfish I initially think back to my childhood.  I really like good cod, but would also be happy with catfish as a substitute for fish and chips.  It's like fish-n-chips southern style.

   Gobbly, thanks for your input.  My experiences mirror yours as well with type and size of the catfish.  I wouldn't usually keep the cats that were to big though.  Likewise, the fillets at the Asian grocery store I visit has fresh catfish fillets, always from smaller (sweeter) sized cats.

  I could also see both points that Ed and DC make.  Depending upon the water, bottom, weeds and may or may not want to eat catfish from a particular lake or river (or even section of river).  The environment in which they grow and eat has a big influence on how they taste. 

Joined Mar 21, 2008
Wild channel catfish and flat head catfish are totally different in taste and texture and feeding habits. I used to catch flat heads all the time for eating and they are very good. Nice firm texture, not as much of a fat line, and they don't bottom scavenge. Flat heads eat live food mostly, we used to use 8 inch or longer creek chubs to catch them. I always released anything over 5 pounds because they are the brood fish that will help keep the populations up.
Joined Dec 21, 2005
For many years I avoided catfish, remembering the catfish of my youth which had a muddy flavor that I found distinctly unpleasant. Then on a trip to (of all places) Denver, a friend persuaded me to try it again while we were at a Cajun style restaurant. I loved it, and it has been one of my favorite fish ever since. Whether it was farmed-raised or what,. I don't know, but the favors that had turned me off were no longer present. My favorite way to cook catfish may also be the simplest: brush both sides of a skinless fillet with yellow mustard (this is no place for Dijon!), roll it in seasoned cornmeal, and pan fry in hot oil. The cornmeal forms a  crunchy exterior that keeps the fish moist and absorbs only a small amount of oil compared to other breadings.
Joined Aug 21, 2009
I had the best catfish at Epcot in WDW Florida.  It was a blackened catfish served with grits and a vegetable and it was the best! I thouroughly enjoyed every bite.  The restaurant was the one int he living seas area (sorry the name escapes me) and I would love to get my hands on that recipe!   Disney chefs do share some of their recipes if people ask so I may just take a bold step and ask for it.
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