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Tennessee Aquarium has the Purr-fect Recipe for Celebrating National Catfish Month

CHATTANOOGA, TN (August 15, 1997) -- An entire month dedicated to catfish? If it sounds a little fishy, you’ll be surprised to learn that these creatures of the deep have cast a spell on nearly 10 million anglers throughout the country. And, that figure has experts reeling about the rate of the sport’s resurgence as one of America’s favorite pastimes.

In fishing circles, sport fin-atics consider a 30-pound catfish a respectable catch. But at day’s end when fish stories begin to fly, some avid anglers are left floundering for their own anecdotal whopper. That’s why it comes as little surprise to Tennessee Aquarium experts that catfish anglers travel hundreds, even thousands of miles to view the large specimens at the world’s largest freshwater lifecenter.

The Tennessee Aquarium’s docile flathead, known for perching herself on a rock among the branches in the Nickajack Lake exhibit, is nearly 60 pounds. The three active big blues, weighing in at as much as 70 pounds, are among the largest on exhibit in the United States. And, some anglers can be found nose-to-the-glass, observing the behavior of these magnificent creatures for hours and dreaming of making their “big catch.”

While the sport of angling these fish is catching on, so too is its palate-pleasing popularity. In fact, the popularity of this delicacy increased more than 50 percent from 1985-1995, and catfish farms are flourishing, feeding the frenzy. So, on this warm August evening, fire up the grill in honor of National Catfish Month and enjoy this recipe, a favorite among Tennessee Aquarium staffers.

For more information on the Tennessee Aquarium, call 800-262-0695.

Note: Slides available on request. Call 423-785-3011.


6 catfish fillets 1/2 lb. unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbs. sweet paprika 2 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper 1 tsp.onion powder
1/2 tsp.dried thyme leaves 1 tsp.garlic powder
1/2 tsp.marjoram

Fire up the grill. In a small bowl, combine seasoning ingredients. Dip fillets in melted butter, then sprinkle seasoning mix on both sides. Place each fillet on an 18 X 18 inch section of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Add a tablespoon of butter on top of each fillet and wrap in foil square. When fire coals are white, place wrapped fish on the grill about 6 inches above the heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily. Serve with lemon wedges. Serves: 6

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is the largest freshwater aquarium in the world. Built with private contributions, this non-profit educational organization is dedicated to the understanding, conservation and enjoyment of the Tennessee River and related ecosystems. Admission is $10.25 per adult and $5.50 per child, ages 3-12. The Aquarium is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas and is accessible to people with disabilities. The Aquarium’s TDD number is (423) 265-4498, and FM assistive listening devices are available on site. For more information, call 1-800-262-0695.

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