News U.S. Catfish Trail Bridges Gap from Pond to Plate

U.S. Catfish Trail Bridges Gap from Pond to Plate

U.S. Catfish Trail Bridges Gap from Pond to Plate
June 3, 2024 |

By Maggie Edwards 

From pond to plate and fingerling to fillet, The Catfish Trail promotes U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish. 

Since The Catfish Institute (TCI) launched The Catfish Trail in 2021, it has grown to feature restaurants from the Southeast that specialize in U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish dishes, said TCI President Roger Barlow. That list includes 11 in Alabama.

 “Perhaps one of the most impactful promotional programs in recent memory, The Catfish Trail continues to expand its footprint and draw a meaningful spotlight on our industry’s ever-important restaurateur friends,” Barlow said. “Today, there are more than 70 eateries across nine states featured on the trail. It’s a key element of our cross-platform consumer messaging.”

TCI, founded by farmers and feed manufacturers, has worked for decades to raise awareness of U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish, said Alabama Farmers Federation Catfish Division Director William Green. 

“With Alabama ranking second in the country for catfish production, The Catfish Trail is a huge help in supporting farmers whose livelihoods depend on the catfish industry,” Green said. “Farmers work hard to provide a clean, healthy and wholesome product. The Federation works closely with TCI to continue promotion, support and education.” 

The Old Greenbrier Restaurant in rural Limestone County is a stop on the U.S. Catfish Trail. The restaurant proudly serves U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish.

Alabama farmers like Sumter County’s Sid Nelson reap the benefits of The Catfish Trail. 

“The Catfish Trail helps our fish get on a table,” said Nelson, the Federation’s State Catfish Committee chair. “Supporting local catfish production helps the economy. It means so much to the states that are involved.” 

Stretching from the Black Belt in west Alabama to Huntsville, the trail helps U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish land on plates of thousands, thanks to restaurants like Old Greenbrier in Limestone County.  

“My family has been in the catfish restaurant business since 1971,” said Jerry Evans, who owns Old Greenbrier in Madison. “Our biggest seller at the restaurant is U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish. People like it because of the smooth taste.” 

Old Greenbrier joined The Catfish Trail to continue its legacy of serving farm-fresh fish straight from the fryer. That fish is hot and flakes off perfectly, Evans said. The crispy cornmeal crust pairs well with Old Greenbrier’s famous hush puppies, too. 

“Anytime we can, we will support local,” Evans said. “Pond-fed fish has such a different taste. With foreign fish a threat to the catfish farmer’s economy, we see a need to proudly support fish raised in the Southeast.”

The Catfish Trail wouldn’t succeed without support of restaurants, Barlow said. 

“Restaurants have been thrilled to partner with the industry,” Barlow said. “They help promote the trail by sharing it on their social media and hanging signs in their restaurants.” 

Sid Nelson, right, raises U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish in Sumter County. Nelson, the Alabama Farmers Federation State Catfish Committee chair, produces high-quality fish that’s inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nelson farms with his son-in-law, Denzil Dees, and shares his love of aquaculture with his grandson, Kirk.

Those signs flash royal blue stars and red and white stripes embossed with “We Proudly Serve U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish” across the center. That’s a symbol for safe, high-quality fish, Barlow said.

More Alabama trail locations include Top O’ the River in Guntersville, Gadsden and Anniston; The Ark, Riverside; The Fish Market, Birmingham; Batter Up, Sylacauga; and David’s Catfish House in Daphne, Monroeville, Spanish Fort and Thomasville. 

“Unless you live in the South, you probably think catfish is a big, ugly bottom feeder,” said Shannon Robertson, who owns Top O’ the River in Anniston. “What you don’t know is there’s an industry that’s changed that for the last 35 years. U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish has built a product that’s been consistent, genuine and great. We don’t serve any other fish.” 

It’s encouraging to see so many restaurants proudly serve U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish, Nelson said. 

“Catfish farmers appreciate the people who choose to consume, sell and support our commodity,” Nelson said. “We work hard to feed the nation. Day in and day out, we strive to care for the land, the fish and the people of Alabama.” 

Learn more about U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish at

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