Have you every thought how cool it would be to catch some fish, take it to your favorite restaurant and have a trained chef prepare a special meal?

Well, wonder no more: Restaurants participating in the Louisiana Catch and Cook Program are just waiting for you to show up with your catch.

The program was begun after the passing of Act 577 in 2014, which OK’d approved retail food establishments to prepare certain game fish.

“The Catch and Cook Program allows fresh-caught Louisiana game fish to be served in our Louisiana restaurants — what could be better than that?” said Sen. Bret Allain, who authored the legislation. “It promotes recreational and charter fishing, along with some of the best restaurants in the world.

“This program highlights what Louisiana is famous for.”

There is no fee to apply for the permit, although participating restaurants may charge the guest any amount they choose for preparing the item.

The guest providing the fish must execute an assumption of risk relieving the establishment of any responsibility.

Fish also must be cleaned and processed beforehand, and can only be served to the party who caught the fish.

“This program is a wonderful opportunity to promote the state’s nearly $2 billion recreational fishing industry, while simultaneously showcasing Louisiana’s top-notch dining establishments,” LDWF Secretary Robert Barham said. “Anglers, especially those traveling to the Sportsman’s Paradise to take part in our first-class fishing, are looking to add value to their experience, and the Catch and Cook Program does exactly that.”

To date, 14 restaurants have signed on to the program, and LDWF expects more to join as it gains more publicity.

The Louisiana Restaurant Association is currently working with the LDWF and Allain’s office to promote the program amongst the restaurant community.  

“What helps identify Louisiana’s cuisine as unique is not only how we prepare our dishes, but what we prepare,” Louisiana Restaurant Association President Stan Harris said. “The Catch and Cook Program allows a recreational angler to have their catch prepared by our world-class restaurants, creating a pathway to serve species we can’t currently offer (commercially).

We encourage our LRA members to consider opting in to this new program.”   

Galatoire’s in the New Orleans French Quarter is already a Catch and Cook participant.

“We are committed to serving the freshest of Louisiana’s indigenous seafood bounty,” Galatoire’s Melvin Rodrigue said. “Many of our patrons are avid fishermen, and the opportunity to prepare their catch with Galatoire’s signature style is one we are pleased to accommodate through the Catch and Cook Program.”

The Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana is also a strong supporter of the new program. 

“Louisiana is home to some of the world’s best recreational fishing and some of the world’s best restaurants, and each attracts countless visitors to our state each year,” CCA Louisiana’s David Cresson said. “Sen. Allain’s innovative Catch and Cook Program allows visitors and locals alike to combine the two, enriching both the experience on the water and at the table.”

LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina said that, while many Louisiana anglers enjoy cooking, the program can provide a special ending to a fishing trip to those who don’t exactly love  time in the kitchen.

“Nothing wraps up a long day on the water better than the smell of fish sizzling on the grill, but not all anglers prefer to cook their own catch,” Pausina said. “So why not leave it to the professionals?”

For guidelines or to participate in the Catch and Cook Program, click here