Regular choupique anglers all agree on one thing: The fish must be cleaned alive. Even if held properly iced but dead, as are other fish, the texture of their flesh very rapidly deteriorates. 

And it can’t be frozen. Lafourche Crossing resident James Morvant agreed with the Lirettes. “There is only one way to eat choupique, and that is fresh. If you can’t get it fresh, don’t cook it. It gets soft quickly, even if held alive too long.”

Like the Lirettes, Morvant’s family — grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, and cousins — have the tradition of making cane pole expeditions to local canals to catch the beasts for family feasts.

A good live well in a bass boat obviously will hold the tough fish for a time. But not every boat has a live well, and much of the best choupique water is only accessible by wheeled motor vehicles.

The Lirettes have solved that problem handily. They simply place a bag of ice in an ice chest and pour a 5-gallon bucket of canal water over the ice. As they are caught, the choupique are added to the ice slush.

“They will live in that cold water for three days if you keep adding ice,” Dale Lirette said.