First, I’ll answer Seafarer John. Bristol is the county seat of Liberty County in Florida’s panhandle. I wouldn’t doubt that there is a steep hill there, because some of the land in that area gets right hilly, especially to be so close to the coast. And Bristol is across the broad Apalachicola River from its larger city cousin, Blountstown, so there’s a long bridge connecting the two.
My favorite stop for catfish (thusfar) is The Original Rio Vista on Moreland Avenue (the locals call it "42 Highway" or "42 #" in Conley, Georgia (the road is now U. S. 23). I would rate it as a Most Sternable place: Jane and Michael, scribble a note! This is 11 miles SE of downtown Atlanta: you can almost see the Georgia Capitol dome from there.
There once were at least four Rio Vistas in metro Atlanta, but the locations in Cobb County, on Stewart Avenue, and on Memorial Drive have gone to that great eatery-land in the sky. The Conley location is operated by the son of the founder, and has been open since 1955 or so in its fake-stone building amidst the truck terminals and strip bars that comprise the area – and with a neon sign that comes close to shaming Pilgreen’s for sheer volume.
Their catfish come fried and all-you-can-eat, served with a plethora of sides and with the strangest house salad dressing I’ve ever encountered… sort of like a cross between cocktail sauce and ketchup, but I can’t really say that it tastes like either.
My friend Yeasty Boy Sandy (we are two members of a thus-named beer tasting group!) tells me breathlessly about "this fish house up by Carnesville that’s worth a 25-mile drive ANYtime!" "Is it as good as Booty’s Fish House out from Royston?" I asked him. "It’s WAY better," he replied. "Their fish are farm-raised, and a lot fatter." – I’ll surely report back eventually, joyfully.
Apparently there is quite a fish camp tradition in the Gastonia region of North Carolina, because there is a famous place there on old U. S. 29/70 between Gastonia and Charlotte… right by the river bridge… that has been recommended to me by someone who turned me onto The Coffee Cup and Gus’ Sir Beef in Charlotte. I would take her word anytime regards good eats.
My rule of thumb, though, is simple: the more misspellings on the outside sign, the better the bet. "FREH CAT FIS" drew me into a now-gone place in East Nashville, and theirs were superb. (Alas, I can’t say the same for the "BOLIED P=NUT’S" I sampled once.)
Hungrily Submitted, Ort. Carlton in Athens, Georgia.