This was originally written back in March 2011 and I have since gotten an outboard in addition to the kayak, and have been better skilled at catching sac-a-lait.
“It was March 15th, 2003 that I pulled my last hoop net out of White Lake. I had spent over 30 years running from Lake Charles to Lake Maurepas. We went as far North as Butte La Rose, but mostly we fished as close as possible to Catfish Wholesale.
Last summer I sold my boat, and soon after felt cut off from being able to go on the water to all my nice spots. I turned around and bought a kayak. It’s a little humbling paddling for hours the distance that I was covering in minutes. My idea was to get some exorcise to offset sitting at this computer all day.
I got a mountain bike for the lower half and together with the kayak I’m staying fairly fit. I ride the mountain bike in the sugar cane fields most of the time if it hasn’t just rained. There’s lots of coyote sign out there and we have seen 3 over the years just behind the house.
I’ve started trying to catch crappie out of the kayak, but so far the joke is on me. It’s a lot different than trying to catch catfish with nets. I remember all the variety we would catch. Everything from blue crabs to sac-a-lait. Of course we had to throw the game fish back.“
In the early days all the catfish were hung on hooks and the skin was pulled off by hand with skinning pliers. That was the way it had been done for years and was slow and labor intensive. Later on we got this Baader Skinning Machine that picked up the speed, but had to be used with great care. I know of 2 instances were the operator got a serious injury by touching their hand to the moving cutting knife. It would skin your hand just like a fish if you didn’t jerk it out.
Here you see a couple of ladies operating the skinning machine. You could stand a person on each side facing each other and have two people feeding the fish through. It really worked best after the fish were headed and gutted.
Only a few people are trusted to run the band saw for deheading catfish. A good operator can process up to 50 fish in a minute. It’s hard monotinus work that won’t allow for a momements carelessness. There are lots of people in the meat packing industry that have lost fingers or worse to these machines.
This saw is also used for heading all the other types of fish that have come through the plant. This includes everything from Black Drum to Buffalo.