Loc: Idaho Falls, Idaho
I think this post qualifys under "food" discussion. Sometimes when I'm in the backcountry I like to do a bit of fishing on the remote lakes. As rewarding as it is to catch some virgin trout, I thought maybe this time around I would try eating them instead of releasing them. (BTW, these were hatchery fish stocked by fish and game a few years ago. Normally I'm a zero limit type guy who releases all the natural fish back to the wild. With the exception of hatchery fish that were added to the population, or non-native fish for control purposes) So no flaming please.
Unfortunately I didn't plan on eating fish before I left for this adventure, so I didn't bring anything to cook them with. I normally don't like trout, being raised on walleye it kind of ruins it for you. But the idea of cooking fish on an open fire was too tempting to pass up.
So I made a fire from deadfall and pine sap tinder, found some willow shoots to use as spits and a few flat rocks. The fish were cleaned, but the head/jaw was left on. The willow skewer was inserted through the open mouth, ran through the open belly and inserted in the fleshy part of the tail so that it was secure and could be rotated. The fish were rotated until the meat was done. You can tell when it is done by the texture and when the fins are easily pulled out. Unfortunately cooking them also makes the jaw rip out not enabling you to rotate them. So then they were placed on the flat rocks in the middle of the fire for the final cooking. When they were done the skin peels right off and fins removed.
Like I said, i'm not a big fan of trout, but they tasted good. I think it was the immediate catch and cook theory along with some smoky flavor from the fire. With a little bit of spices they would have tasted grand. This was a very fun thing to do and added to the fact that I had wild raspberrys and huckleberrys to eat all day long, it was an aweseome day.
How do you cook your backcountry fish? Recipes, etc?
Loc: Southern Adirondacks of New Yo...
We just had a nice backwoods bass over the fire this weekend. It was wrapped in tinfoil but not before the spices were added to it. I think my buddy used some sole seasoning. Then he put it in a fish shaped metal grill that closes and just flipped it once. It came out really nice. The only other way I know of to eat fish in the back woods is on a nice flat rock. If its your fire and you control the flame then you can do it right and very nice. I like a nice flat rock placed against the side of the fireplace stones or concrete. Put the fish in the center of the stone (stone should be bigger then the fish your cooking) and occasionally pour a little beer over him. Use about a half can total and that should be enough. You want a good hot fire but not so hot it burns the fish in 30 seconds. Where the fish is you should be able to hold your hand but only for a second or 2. If your using the willow spits then take two much smaller spit sticks (the size of large toothpicks) and stick it through the trout sideways and behind the main spit and make sure they are a few inches apart. That should allow you to rotate the trout without losing him. Swizzle
Loc: Southern California
For trout, I clean the fish (leaving the head on) and season the interior with various spices (lemon pepper, chili powder, garlic powder and oregano are a few I've used). If I'm packing margarine or clarified butter I'll put a dab of that on the inside too. Then wrap in foil and cook right in the coals or, if no fires are allowed, in my pot over the stove. When you unwrap the fish the skin peels off with the foil. We eat it on Trisquit crackers with a dab of Rooster Sauce. Yum.
Bass I usually fillet and cook in Crisco shortening, with some sort of coating (usually a mixture of bread crumbs and flour with lots of spices in it). For my Henry Coe Park trip earlier this year I packed in corn tortillas, fresh cabbage and dried salsa. Fish tacos in the outback!
I agree that fresh-caught fish always taste better than store-bought or, God forbid, frozen. There is tremendous satisfaction in feeding oneself using his or her skills and guile in a backcountry setting. I tend to release most of the fish I catch, but I see nothing wrong with saving a fish or two for the skillet.
My blog on politics, the environment and the outdoors: Haiwee.blogspot.com
I almost exclusively fly fish and practice catch and release 98 % of the time. That said, if there is anything better than a meal of or featuring fresh caught trout prepared and consumed at the source then I haven't found it nor am I interested in looking for it! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> In my fishing vest and my pack I always try to carry my cookin' kit. I take a piece of foil approx. two feet or so depending on the width. Inside I place the spices(lemon pepper, garlic, dehydrated onion, butter buds powder ect.) I then fold this up into a 3 X 4 inch square and store in my vest or pack. Then if the urge or need arises I'm ready to cook. I build a small fire (where allowed) and keep adding small twigs untill I have sufficient coals. After cleaning the fish, I place the spices in the cavity and sprinkle some on top. Then I fold the fish up in the foil creasing thenm into a small bundle. The bundle is then placed on the coals and turned over every minute or so untill done. Depending on the size of the fish and the size of your fire, this doesn't take too long as fish cook very fast. I then just open, enjoy and count my blessings.
Heh... I'll post the same book recommendation I typed out a minute ago: "Indian Fishing" by Hilary Stewart has a lot of good info in it, from catching fish to cooking them using natural materials. I learned a lot.
I don't fish much, but back on the res we used to collect and cook shellfish at low tide, sometimes during beach picnics. It was fun. Berries, goosetongue, seaweed, and sea asparagus were also plentiful, but for some reason we didn't eat them often. I should call home to see if any recipes will work while out hiking.
I fish to eat. It is not a sport to me. So I eat 100% of what I catch - or in other words, I only catch what I want to eat! I am always in "trout country". I personally would not even eat meat if I felt moral qualms about catching and killing it. Everyone who eats meat should come to grips with this fact of life. I am not advocating one or the other - just it is hypocritic to eat meat and not want to do the "dirty work" yourself.
Little fish less than 4-5 inches - fry them up crispy and eat the whole thing.
Medium fish (ones that fit in my small frying pan) - prefer to cook on coals but if fires are not allowed II turn down the heat on my stove as much as I can, put a lid on the fry pan, and move the frying pan by hand to even out the heat. I cook in olive oil. I find that a frying pan with teflon is much better than little backpack frying pans. I buy a cheap light teflon coated fry pan and take the handle off. The hard thing is to find a light lid that fits the pan.
Ok, this may offend some -- but when you fry a very fresh fish, they will curl up in the fry pan (residual muscle response) - if you make slices along the backbone, they will stay flat.
Big fish (too big to fit in my frying pan) -- filet and fry. I have also experimented with boiling the fish, de-boning and then frying the meat. It is OK but not great. If you are going to boil fish, you should just make fish chowder. (add a pack of corn chowder soup). Also, on a big fish, there is a small round pod of meat in the cheek by the gills - it is really tasty.
In the past, when fires were more prevelant, we would smoke fish and then use it for trail food. It is a lot of work and not something you would do if you are trying to "make miles" on the trail.
I almost was able to cook biscuits in my bear cannister - not quite hot enough. I should try to cook fish in my bear cannister! Bear cannister fish jerkey?