- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

GRAYVILLE, Ill. (AP) - When Johnny Farmer died in 2013, his wife and business partner, Sue Farmer, decided Hard Times Fish Market had served its last meal. And that was how it was until Richard Clodfelter stepped in.

“Johnny and I grew up together,” Clodfelter said. “He was King of the River in his time.”

A longtime oil man and fisherman, Clodfelter is keeping up the tradition Johnny and Sue started by serving up locally grown fried green tomatoes and lots of fried fish. The sign out front has changed, too. Now it reads Rac’s Fish Market & Restaurant. A couple of other things have changed inside the restaurant like air-conditioning replacing the screen-covered windows and tables with chairs taking the place of the old benches.

Perhaps the biggest change one might notice during a visit to the riverfront business is the addition of Asian carp to the menu. The menace of the Wabash River, and a multitude of other inland waterways, can be found alongside local favorites such as catfish, buffalo and hi-fin.

“People are asking for (Asian carp),” Clodfelter said as he tossed a 12-pounder onto his cleaning station. “I started bringing them in and I would give people a pound to try. Three out of five came back and would rather have them than the buffalo. I’ve got people coming back every day asking ‘Have you got any Asian carp today? We want some Asian carp.’ I’ll be able to tell them tomorrow I do. They’re going to get lucky.”

Clodfelter hasn’t always been a cheerleader for the invasive fish. Since all of his fish come from the Wabash River, where the fish leap through the air when excited by a boat’s motor, it can be a dangerous proposition even being in a boat on the river these days.

“I’ve been hit (when they fly through the air),” Clodfelter said. “My brother has, too. It like to have killed him.”

The fisherman has come to grips with reality of the situation. The river is overloaded with the Asian carp and he has the means to make the most of it.

“This is something I started,” he said. “I don’t think there are many people who do this. The key thing is to keep them fresh. They absolutely stink to begin with. The longer they lay the stinkier they get. Once you get past the smell, you’ve got her licked.”

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Source: Evansville Courier and Press, https://bit.ly/1TVqVYZ

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Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, https://www.courierpress.com


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