By Montana Grant

Posted: April 9, 2023

Hopefully, some of snowpack will melt and great fishing will begin. So far, ice covered lakes, snow drift lined rivers, and cold weather make fishing tougher. Catch and Release fishermen can struggle along but sometimes an angler must eat.

Cooking fish is a wonderful way to enjoy your catch. Fresh fish are best and stream, or shoreside, fish meals are the best. Shore lunches can be awesome. Cooking fresh fish when ice fishing is also tasty and easy.

Shore lunches don’t take much tackle or gear. Sharp sticks, foil, flat rocks, and boards can make perfect fish cooking tools. Before you start cooking, you will need to properly care for the fish.

If the fish in the net is to be eaten, thunk it on the head and kill it. The fish does not need to suffer. Flopping fish on the bank, creel, or stringer build up lactic acid in their meat that ruins their taste and flavor.

Pioneers simply gutted and rinsed the fish. Scaling was also performed on some species with large scales. The fish was shoved onto a sharp stick and propped up next to a fire. Rotating the fish would make sure that the fish was thoroughly cooked.

Nailing or wiring a fish onto a flat board allows the board to be propped up next to the fire. Adding some bacon strips is always good. Once the fish is baked, use the board as the dinner plate.

A hot flat rock can serve as a frying pan. You can add oil or keep the rock damp, so that the meat does not stick.  I have also placed Tulip Poplar leaves onto some hot coals and placed the fish on top. Adding more leaves to cover the fish, and adding water to the leaves helps the fish steam.

Add the fish to a pot of hot water and poach them. Once the fish is cooked, the meat falls off the bone. You can simply pull the bone off the meat. Now add some potatoes, onion, or whatever veggies you have for a great soup/chowder. In West Virginia, we would use Ramps as onions, potatoes, and fiddle heads for our trout soup. We made the whole soup in a gallon can and baked bread wrapped onto a stick. All made fireside.

Another simple way to make quick fish is to wrap the fish in foil. Add some lemon slices, salt and pepper, and a little butter. Place the foil wrapped fish on some coals and in 10 minutes, you are fish ready. A loaf of French bread and butter can top the meal off.

None of these recipes require much gear. You can take along a gas grill, paper and plates, and other goodies and stuff if your ice sled, truck, vest, boat, or pack has room. Otherwise keep the fish feed simple, tasty, and fun!

Montana Grant

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