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Fish camps, a Gaston County tradition

Tom Hanchett, 2010catfishcove
Ask folks along the Catawba River in Gaston County how to spend an old-time weekend, and pretty quickly the talk will turn to fish camps.

Luther Lineberger started the first of these down-home restaurants back in 1948. According to a small, delightful exhibit at the Belmont Historical Society, “He began cooking up a mess of fish on Friday and/or Saturday nights for his friends and fellow mill workers of Cramerton Mills.”

Pretty soon he slapped up an eating house out of rough-sawn lumber, recalls Historical Society volunteer Max Robinson. “Burned off the splinters with a blowtorch,” says another volunteer, Jack Cannon.

By the 1960s half a dozen “fish camps” had folks lined out the door on weekend evenings. Catfish, carp and crappies caught right out of the Catawba gave way to shrimp, flounder and other fish from distant waters, battered and deep fried. Lineberger’s burned in 1998 but many of the rest remain, clustered near the textile town of Belmont off Interstate 85 across the Catawba from Charlotte.

Don’t try going for lunch, though. Most places don’t open til evening. That’s a tradition held over from the textile era – even though the mills are mostly long gone. “It was so families could get together,” explains Beverly Lineberger. “Daytimes, people were working in the mill. Your evening meal on the weekend, that was family times.”

Belmont Historical Society
dotsonsfishFriday – Sunday 1pm – 5pm
40 Catawba Street
Belmont NC  28012
(704) 825 – 4848

Two fish camps within a 10 minute drive of the Historical Society:

Catfish Cove (founded by former Lineberger cook Raymond Stowe)
Tuesday – Thursday 4pm – 9pm
Friday 4pm – 10pm
Saturday 3pm – 10pm
Sunday buffet 11am – 3pm
1401 Armstrong Ford Rd
Belmont, NC 28012
(704) 825-3332

Dotson’s Fish Fry (“since 1960”)
Wednesday – Thursday 4pm – 9pm
Friday – Saturday 4pm – 10pm
600 E. Henry Street, off Highway 273
Mt. Holly, NC  28120
(704) 827 – 3291

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