We were catching Oscars, me and Russ Jackson. We were on some canal down in Florida and they were nailing the half a night crawler we were fishing under a cork.
They fought like demons and ran a pound or more. Fantastic eating, too.
So this guy from Mt. Juliet says to me, "Have you heard about all the Tilapia they are catching at the steam plant? A friend of mine at work caught 75 in a half-day, last week."
I knew there were Tilapia in Old Hickory, don't know how they got there.
Do know the TWRA is not exactly happy about it. No matter what size they are, they, the TWRA, does not want you to throw them back.
As I understand it, here is why. I was told they spawn every couple months and have huge spawns. That would lead to an overpopulation . . . I guess.
I don't know a heck of a lot about the foreign species of fish.
I do know we don't want Asian carp but probably already have them. They jump high in the air at the sound of an outboard motor. Will jump right into your boat.
So feature this: you are going 40-miles an hour in your deep breather (or 60), and one about five-pounds jumps and hits you in the head.
Real good chance you are going to be somewhat dead.
But back to Oscars and Tilapia. Both are good to eat.
My wife eats Tilapia regularly. She broils them in the oven and likes them. I find them to be almost edible.
Oscars are another story. I don't think we have them here but they are the South American version of our bream and are in the canals in South Florida.
Some folks have them in aquariums. Filleted and deep fried, just like a bream, they are every bit as good. And they are a ball to catch. I really don't know or care where Tilapia come from, Africa I think. Probably Judges (ret.) Durham and Hamilton brought them back with them. I just know they are furrin to our waters.
The Tilapia, so my friend at the boat ramp said, are attracted to the warm water at the Steam Plant and are caught just like a bream.
He said his friend was fishing a piece of earthworm under a cork and his fishing partner was using one raisin, yes raisin on a hook and both were catching them every cast. Naturally, since they are not regulated, the sizes range and you should not throw any back. But, he said they had a cooler full of good eating size. Since he actually saw the fish, I reckon he knows what he is talking about. I have no idea what you are supposed to do with the small ones. However, it is garden time and they make great fertilizer-according to the Indians.
I am considering giving it a try. I have never caught one.
David Petty, fishing with Mark Campbell caught one a year or so ago.
That was the first I heard of them being in O.H. But if they fight anything like a bream, they would be fun to catch and I can always find someone to give fish to if Jeanne won't eat a "wild fish". I suspect if I filleted one and deep fried it, it might be fit to eat.
Now. I am often asked, how I fry fish.
It so simple, even I can do it. I simply beat two eggs into a bowl with about three cups of butter milk.
Place the fillets in and let them soak a minute or two. Remove and shake in a bag of seasoned corn meal.
I season mine with Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning. I fry in oil heated the same as I would for chicken-about 375-400 degrees.
Once they are golden brown-about 90 seconds, remove, drain and eat. Just don't put too many pieces in the fryer at one time.
In the meantime, I can tell you this.
The bass and crappie fishing is good to red hot right now. My three main lakes -- O.H., Priest and Center Hill are all producing.
It is time to go. I think even Larry Woody can catch fish this time of year.
Contact John L. Sloan at email@example.com