If you’re a fan of the NHL, you’re probably familiar with the Octopus toss at Joe Louis Arena, the home of the Detroit Red Wings. That tradition started in the 1950’s during a Red Wing playoff run.

Jim Wholey, co-owner of Wholey’s Fish Market in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, stands beside a 40 pound catfish on display during the Stanley Cup Finals. Wholey’s is ID’ing customers coming to the store to buy catfish so none slip in to the hands of Tennessee Predators fans.

The Nashville Predators began mimicking the Octopus tradition in October of 2003, during a game against the Red Wings, by throwing catfish onto the ice at their home rink, Bridgestone Arena.

And the tradition has continued.

Most recently it caused a spectacle at Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when Jacob Deveral Waddell, 36, of Nolensville, Tennessee tossed a dead catfish onto the ice of PPG Paints Arena and was promptly escorted out of the game.

The incident prompted local, popular fish market owners to take extraordinary steps to ensure the catfish fling doesn’t get out of control.

“You have to show your ID if you want to buy catfish here,” said Jim Wholey, co-owner of Wholey’s Fish Market in Pittsburgh.

Sidewalk and indoor signs, all reiterate this message: “If you’re from Nashville, Don’t ask. Must Show ID” and “Pens Fans Only” are fixed above displays of catfish on ice.

Wholey’s is also proudly hosting a 40 pound catfish, caught this past weekend, for the duration of the Finals. The giant fish on display in one of the tanks is not for sale to fans of either team.

“We’re taking good care of him. We’re feeding him. We’ll let him go after the series,” said Wholey. “It’s all in good fun.”

So what’s the catfish significance to a team with a saber-toothed tiger as a logo?

Southern cooking, of course!

Catfish are seen as a staple of southern cuisine and are found throughout restaurants in the southern states — Tennessee is no exception. Catfish can also be pulled out of the Cumberland River that runs through downtown Nashville.

While the Stanley Cup Playoffs are largely divisive, fans of both teams can agree catfish is delicious. With catfish sales on lockdown, here are the best restaurants to dine on the fishy bottom-feeder in both cities.

Best Places for fans to get Catfish in Nashville

Uncle Bud’s Catfish, Chicken & Such: Whole Catfish Dinner (more than a pound of catfish!), $15

Cock of the Walk: Broiled Catfish, $14

Arnold’s Country Kitchen: (Wednesdays & sometimes Friday only) Fried Catfish, price varying

Caney Fork River Valley Grille: Blazin’ Bayou Catfish Strips Appetizer, $7


NOLA on the Square: Beer Battered Catfish Po Boy, $11

Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille: Blackened Catfish Sandwich, $12

Rivertowne North Shore: Cajun Catfish Sandwich, $11

Hook Fish & Chicken: Catfish Nuggets, $10

Have other favorite catfish restaurants? Tell us in the comments below!




Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.