Location, date, time, water conditions, weather conditions, baits, techniques, species caught, etc.
First the fairly straight-forward fish catching side of the story. Started by gathering up free soldier fly larvae out of the compost bin. Had used them a previous trip targeting bluegills and discovered the cats like them just as much as the panfish do.
As luck would have it I only had the time to go mid-day and found the cat bite quite a bit slower than the previous evening bite I enjoyed... still, with a bit of patience I put together a fairly nice mess of fish for a friend of Salty Gator's.
Caught all the cats from my dock, but after putting up with a slow bite ended the day by quickly canoeing to a few spots I know hold brim during the spawning season. Between a few bluegills caught from the dock mixed with those caught from the canoe, I caught a few nice slabs!
Biggest one of the bunch had a mouth even tougher than the cats!
This one wasn't the biggest I caught, but stripes were visible before I pulled it out of the water and I thought for a second an Ecky sheepie found its way to the pond.
Another big blue...
And finally one that couldn't have shined any more if coated with glass...
Which brings me to the funny part of the tale. Having read that putting catfish into clean water helps eliminate a bit of "muddy" flavor, I took the quite lively cats off the stringer and put them into two small styrofoam coolers filled with crystal clean well water, and around 5pm headed to Salty Gator's office hoping he'd be there until the office closed at 6 (he actually had messaged me he had to leave early but I didn't see it until it was too late ).
So here I am filthy from picking soldier fly maggots out of wet compost, covered in catfish slime, and fairly soaked from putting the feisty cats into the coolers.
Walk into Salty Gator's office and am met by a super friendly woman, albeit one who looks concerned at what I might have inside of a styrofoam cooler just before closing time.
She kindly asks what she can do for me, and I reply, "I'm here to meet up with the Doc so he can euthanize some catfish for me."
Looking both perplexed and a bit horrified, she tells me that Salty had to leave early for a meeting and that she's afraid he won't be able to euthanize them until the next day. Not quite ready to give up the attempt at humor, I make things worse by replying that not only did I bring one small cooler but have a second filled with more catfish I need to be euthanized. Finally sensing that ***MAYBE*** euthanizing jokes are best not shared in a vet setting, I give up the joke and explain that the fish are for a friend of Salty Gator's to prep for cooking. She touches base with Salty and I think the catfish may have actually made it to the intended target, though I can't say for certain. For Salty's sake I hope so!
As for keeping them alive in clean fresh water, I should add a few comments... first, haven't even eaten one out of the pond so can't speak to how "muddy" they actually taste but do know that brown bullheads don't typically get mentioned as the cat with the very best flavor. In reading up on their reputation (or lack thereof), I found multiple forum threads from other boards where folks shared comments along the lines of "Grandpa always kept catfish in a feed tank filled with clean well water for three days."
As with much internet hearsay I took the comments with a grain of salt but also with an open mind to Grandpa possibly having had reason, even if not a perfectly understood one.
Best I can tell from a bit more digging, off-flavors are less from absorption of any actual soil particulates / any actual muddiness of a body of water than the absorption of chemicals (such as methylisoborneol and geosmin) released by algae, making fish caught in algea-friendly warm waters more problematic than fish caught in cold waters. Turns out Grandpa's trick is now actually a recommended action for small commercial operations, though on a different scale. Linked article speaks to multiple environmental factors that influence taste and moving commercial fish to a designated clean holding pond for flavor improvement.
So long story just a wee bit shorter, you can tell your employee and friend that the reason the crazy guy delivered the catfish alive in the coolers filled with water is that he's a bit of a wonkish nerd, even if he doesn't look like it when filthy, wet, and covered in catfish slime.
I know a writer who can bang out some marketing copy...
"Nestled amongst the sawtooth oaks, this charming operation features a slightly crazed proprietor who hand-delivers delicious catfish with just a hint of North Florida clay and Treflan, the herbicide of choice for the area's cotton farmers, just in time for the annual family reunion fish fry."
And if I'm not mistaken, June 24 is national catfish day.
Used this one for the MS Gulf Coast Billfish Classic...
The tuna leaderboard changed faster than a runway model.