Bucksnort Trout Farm Makes a Splash With Farm-to-Table Fish

0 Comments By 

Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

Jim Anderson’s wife, Judy, is a bank teller, the kind who chats with her customers. While Jim has a full-time corporate career, she also knew he was thinking about what his next act would be. He grew up in Alaska and sometimes fantasized about returning – retiring to catch salmon (although it’s a fantasy, he’s not leaving his Tennessee-bred grandchildren).

One day in 2016, Judy was talking to a couple, Kip and Rachel Dyer, who were cashing their paychecks, and learned that their place of employment was for sale. “Do you want to buy a trout farm?” she texted her husband. That afternoon, Jim strolled around Bucksnort Trout Farm near McEwen with Kip and Rachel. He soon became its new owner.

See more: Trout and About at Bucksnort Trout Ranch

Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

The Backstory on Bucksnort

Since 1966, Bucksnort Trout Farm has been a destination for families from Memphis to Nashville. Thanks to the Thornton Spring, trout thrive in 56-degree year-round water, and plenty of adults have memories of coming to Bucksnort for the day, playing on some of the 62 acres of green space and catching trout. Some years, the pond was so stocked you didn’t even need a rod or reel.

While the public you-catch-’em model was filled with nostalgia and a decent pay-lake revenue stream, Jim knew it wasn’t enough to sustain the Hickman County business long-term. He bought the trout farm with the agreement that Kip and Rachel would stay on board and set about to make the business jump for the next generation.

How Bucksnort Got Its Name

It’s not what you think. While you might imagine this part of unincorporated Hickman County derives its name from the ruminant mammals who run free, in fact, the memorable moniker comes from something else entirely. In the late 1800s, local legend goes, the area was known for its moonshine, thanks in part to the purity of the water in its springs (the same springs that make trout so good today). A sip of moonshine was known as a “snort,” Jim says. And the best moonshiner in the area was a fellow named Buck. So, bucolic Bucksnort was named for a drink.

Farm-Fresh Fish Catches On

The team started selling whole, fresh rainbow trout to restaurants, something it had done decades before. Bucksnort focuses on 1-pound trout grown from the fry stage (it takes about one year for a fry to grow into a 1-pound trout). Fish are packed on ice made from pure spring water and delivered without any plastic, Styrofoam or dry ice.

“We are literally harvesting fish out of the water that morning and delivering them,” Jim says. Currently all the restaurant customers are in Nashville, but in the past Memphis businesses were customers, too – Jim has old advertisements of the famous Peabody Memphis hotel touting its use of Bucksnort trout – so that may change.

“Bucksnort trout is the most beautiful trout I have ever had the pleasure of cooking with and serving,” says Meagan Stout, executive chef of Makeready, a restaurant in Nashville’s Noelle Hotel. “It is truly cared for and the freshest caught fish that any purveyor has ever sent me. The flesh is sweet and needs very little cooking to provide an experience for anyone.”

“We receive consistent sizing, which I know must require very close attention to detail,” says Jess Benefield, chef and co-owner of The Green Pheasant, also in downtown Nashville. “Having fish delivered straight out of the water (within hours) – it just doesn’t get any better.”

Right now, the farm can only sell whole fish, which works for high-end restaurants, but Jim hopes to ink a deal with a major seafood company to put in a processing plant in Nashville so the farm can sell filets, which will greatly expand the business’s customer base.

Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

A Look Ahead

As the wholesale side of the business has grown, the public fishing side has been temporarily shuttered.

“I do not want to be the guy who shut down Bucksnort Trout Ranch for public fishing,” Jim says. “That’s the fun part.” But he’s also careful to only deliver quality product and experiences and focusing was important this year.

Bucksnort trout is served whole at The Old School; Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

Jim’s other goals are to restart the hatchery, bring public fishing back, and even create a curriculum that could bring science classrooms and scouting troops to the farm, but he has no set timeline – just a goal to grow in smart ways. Hatching fish, in particular, has risks. Because it requires a water pump (as opposed to gravity-only), the consequences can be dire if the farm loses power temporarily, which can happen in its rural location. Having staff working 24/7 or a backup generator is essential for a hatchery operation, and Bucksnort Trout Farm isn’t at that stage yet.

See more: Why East Tennessee Lakes and Rivers Are Perfect for Fly Fishing

Kip calls the fish his kids, Jim says, and is looking forward to hatching trout on site. From Jim’s perspective, he’s got one more idea for an expansion: His son and fiancée are moving to nearby Dickson, and he hopes they may take over the business one day.

Bucksnort Trout Ranch

Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

If You Go...

Bucksnort Trout Ranch

Location: Bucksnort, Tennessee

Phone: (615) 920-3183

Website: bucksnort.com

The ranch is currently closed for public fishing, but you can find whole Bucksnort Trout Ranch rainbow trout for sale at Little’s Fish Company in Germantown and Turnip Truck in Nashville, or on the menu at a number of Nashville restaurants, including City House, The Green Pheasant, Liberty Common, Makeready, The Old School and Rolf & Daughters.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay Connected

Made in Tennessee giveaways, exciting events, delicious recipes and more delivered straight to your inbox.