How catfish fling began in Nashville
Hockey historians at Wikipedia say the tradition (and first catfish) launched in Nashville on Oct. 26, 2002, as a response to archrival Detroit Red Wings fans flinging octopuses on the ice.
That’s half right, says former Nashville bar owner and musician Bob Wolf, 63, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native who spent several decades in Nashville.
Wolf claims he is the first fish flinger and that it’s a move he made in the Predators’ inaugural season, 1998-99. But yes, he says he did it as a response to the Red Wings 50-year octopus tradition.
Back then, Wolf owned a bar called Wolfy’s a half block from the team’s home arena — and a place that would get packed on game night.
Also back then, when the Predators played Detroit, there were almost as many Red Wings fans as Preds fans in Nashville’s arena because so many auto industry workers had moved here from Motor City.
So one night, Wolf and his other hockey-loving buddies — the Wolfy’s Predators brew crew — decided Nashville should do something to counter these obnoxious Red Wings fans and their flying octopus.
Before the next Detroit game, Wolf bought a 9-pounder at the Germantown fish market, wrapped it in newspapers and stuffed half down his pants, half up his shirt, he said.
The plan: When the Preds scored their first goal, Wolf would toss the fish, and he and all his friends, scattered through the arena, would jump out and race out, causing confusion about who flung the fish.
The plan went off without a hitch, except that Wolf first dropped the slippery catfish on the arena floor before heaving it over the glass, he said.
Wolf said he and the brew crew continued tossing catfish onto the ice here and there through the rest of the season, and a tradition and lots of bad smells were born.
Wolf and then-Predators owner Craig Leipold were — and still are — great friends, but Wolf said he didn’t fess up for weeks.
Wolf is now working for Leipold in Minnesota for the NHL franchise there. Oh, and he registered a trademark for the flying-on-ice catfish, giving it a name that soon might appear on T-shirts, hats and in children’s books — “Preddy the Catfish.”
Predators fan Brian Martin throws a catfish on the ice before Game 2.