Rudy and Larry Roussel live in St. James Parish, along the Great River Road that follows the east bank of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Son Rudy at 30 is a fierce fisherman. His boat, a Ranger Intracoastal -essentially a high-performance bass boat - gives him away. It is equipped with soft-touch skid-resistant padding instead of carpeting, more stainless steel, and an aluminum trailer instead of a galvanized one.
“I love to bass fish, but I also love saltwater,” he explained. “And I love catfish.
“I love fishing in general.”
Father Larry at 62 still fishes, but has become more famous for cooking as “Uncle Larry.” He picked up the moniker for his TV show In the Kitchen with Uncle Larry on WVLA in Baton Rouge and WGNO in New Orleans.
With multiple guest appearances on television stations and many articles in the state’s newspapers, Larry has retired from his day job at a refinery and begun his own food business named, naturally enough, Uncle Larry’s Food & Spice Company.
His first product on the market was his seasoning and flavor enhancer, available on-line and at stores in Ascension, St. John, St. James, East Baton Rouge, Livingston and St. Tammany parishes.
It’s good stuff, but it pales beside what’s coming: Stew in a Few, a liquid Cajun stew base; Ready, Set, Gumbo, a gumbo base in three versions, with okra, without okra, and with filé and no okra; Fabulous Fish Fry (corn meal based); Sensational Shrimp Fry (corn flour based) and a not-yet-named dry gumbo base and a dry rub for barbecuing.
Both guys like catfish. Rudy goes after big bruisers, 10- to 20-pound blue cats when flood stage Mississippi River waters invade the willow groves growing on the river batture (the land between the levee and the river bed).
For more “eating-size” catfish, he used to travel to Lake Verret and fish for channel catfish. “The first time we went to Verret, we caught 30 or 40. I was hooked right away,” he grinned.
Then he heard about Lake Des Allemands, long famous for its big population of channel catfish. In 1975, the town of Des Allemands was proclaimed the Catfish Capitol of the World, which was then upgraded by the Legislature in 1980 to the Catfish Capitol of the Universe.
“I went to a buddy’s house and he had a big ice chest full. I went the next day and did the same. Then I started bringing my dad because the fish are more plentiful than in Lake Verret.”
Both enjoy the fast-paced action of springtime Des Allemands catfishing. “I’m not a normal bass fisherman. I hate fishing plastic worms,” confessed Rudy. “They are too slow. I like to catch fish.”
As for Larry, he agreed that he likes the action, but for him, there’s more. “It’s a good-eating fish. It’s just fun — catching lots of fish. I’m here fishing for the table.”