Butch Smith has been fishing the backwaters, lakes, and inland rivers of Louisiana for as long as he’s been breathing fresh bayou air. He’s seen it all and knows a thing or two about fishing, especially wild-caught catfish.
I like to call Butch the “King of Catfish,” and one visit to his Fresh Water Seafood, Co. operation located in the middle of town in the tiny village of Loreauville, LA, and you’ll know why. The scale of his fishing and processing business defies the small footprint from which he operates.
Not only do they fish themselves, but Butch purchases from other fishermen. Catfish comes through the front door daily in a steady stream of trailered boats bringing in the catch from miles around: the Atchafalaya Basin, Red River, Toledo Bend, and the inland lakes of Southwest Louisiana. Using hoop nets, local fishermen fish for wild-caught catfish, including channel, blue, bullhead, and flathead catfish.
A catch of over 8000 pounds on a good day is cut, gutted, skinned, and filleted by a highly skilled crew at his USDA-certified plant. It’s big business, and Butch is the biggest. In fact, Fresh Water Seafood is the largest wild catfish processor in the state, serving a growing wholesale, restaurant, and retail consumer market.
They pack in various cuts and sizes: Catfish fillet (1-2oz, 2-3oz,3-5oz,5-7oz), catfish collarbone, whole catfish (gutted), and catfish nuggets are shipped out in ice and sent to market every day.
Fresh Water Seafood’s catfish fillets are sold nationwide under the Vermilion Bay Sweet brand on the Louisiana Direct Seafood SHOP. Flash frozen and vacuum-packed, Louisiana wild-caught catfish is available in approximately one-pound packs. And once you taste wild-caught catfish, you’ll never cook with any other catfish product. Take a look at our how-to video and easy recipe for Blackened Catfish using Butch’s wild-caught catfish.
It is a superior product, sweeter and cleaner than pond-raised, aquaculture catfish that flood refrigerated supermarket cases. I urge you to contact Butch and buy wild-caught catfish direct from Fresh Water Seafood or order the Vermilion Bay Sweet product online.
108 N Bonin Rd
Loreauville LA 70552
This Boat-To-Table series of stories, recipes, and information about our seafood industry is brought to you in support of Louisiana Direct Seafood, a free program of Louisiana Sea Grant and LSU Ag Center.
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