Updated: May 6
Mississippi and catfish are a natural pair. Every murky body of water has a story about a giant catfish being caught there. Even Mark Twain got into the fun in his 1883 memoir, "Life on the Mississippi." Here he claims to have seen a six foot, 250lb catfish in the river. Since the record catfish caught on the Mississippi River is 124lbs, it's likely Mark Twain may have been telling a tall tale. Belzoni, Mississippi claims to be the "Catfish Capital of the World," due to their US farm-raised Catfish industry. Most Mississippians love their fried catfish, and visitors will find it on almost every menu. People in the Delta have even found creative ways to fish with their hands called "noodling," where you put your hand in an underwater hole, and see if the catfish will bite. Then you pull the catfish out barehanded. One of the most interesting stories involving the Delta and catfish is about Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shop. In 2005, he was on the Mississippi River with fishing legend, Bill Dance, and Bass Pro Shop's first fishing Manager, Jack Everett. Morris was playing with the idea of building a Bass Pro Shop in the Memphis Pyramid. After fishing the Mississippi River for two days, Morris said "... if we catch a 30 pound catfish that will be the deciding factor." As luck had it he caught a 30 pounder. True to his word, Johnny Morris opened a Bass Pro Shop in the pyramid. David Cohn once wrote that the "The Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg." So Vicksburgers share the tradition that if you rub a catfish on the nose, it's good luck, or maybe that's just another tall tale. We're hoping that the same luck applies to the original Delta Dirt Shirt catfish design. Wear it and tell some tall tales yourself.