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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

ORAL HISTORY

Raymond Joseph "Joey" Fonseca


Raymond Joseph “Joey” Fonseca, Jr. learned fishing—predominantly catfishing—in and around Bayou Des Allemands, a fisherman’s and bird-watcher’s paradise on the boundary of Lafourche and St. Charles parishes. Joey’s parents were Cajun, his mother of Canadian descent and his father of Portuguese heritage (the name Fonseca, he points out, appears on the back of Lancers Portuguese wine bottles). They lived on the bank of the bayou, where Joey eventually raised his own four children. There, he grew up in the legacy of the Outlaws of Des Allemands, fishermen of previous generations who devised a revolutionary system of catching catfish using paint cans and/or 55-gallon drums—as opposed to troutlines, or their own hands. These days Joey and his three sons, commercial fishermen all, lure their prey by sinking hoop nets into the bayou, a modern improvement on can fishing. Joey’s wife, Jeannie, hand-sews the boys super-strong bait bags for their birthdays to use in the hoop nets. The Fonseca men are also shrimpers, crabbers, crawfishermen, and alligator hunters, depending on the weather and the season. New Orleanians enjoy wild catfish from Outlaw Katfish Company in some of the city’s finest restaurants, and also if they are lucky enough to make it to the Crescent City Farmers Market before Jeannie sells it all.

Date of interview:
2011-11-16 00:00

Interviewer:
Sara Roahen

Photographer:
Sara Roahen

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