Catch and Cook Fishing Trips Make Some Of The Best Memories!
If I asked outdoorsmen what they loved most about camping, one of the top three answers would be cooking on a campfire. There is something to throwing a pot of ingredients onto a fire and listening to the wood pops and crackles, then eventually hearing the sizzle inside the cast iron. Breakfast food is the first thing that comes to mind especially when it means making coffee with an old-fashioned percolator!
Shelby and I are known to set up a campfire by gathering sticks and placing them in position the night before, and then around 4 am the next morning waking up and cooking an egg scramble in our back yard just for the peace and relaxation.
It goes back to our caveman days, where the simple things in life were all that was needed before we went and complicated things ourselves.
Fish is a favorite among us campers, and especially when they’re caught fresh from the lake, hours or even minutes before!
My Experience Of Cooking Fish Immediately After Catching Them.
When I was around 12, my best friend, his brother and our fathers decided to stay at a campsite around Cave In Rock along the Ohio River. During the three-day weekend, we would fish in the mornings, then find a rope swing along the riverbanks and swim throughout the afternoon.
One of the days the river was a little too choppy to go out on by boat, so Josh and I rigged up some catfish rods. His dad had agreed that if we caught some channel cats, he would go into town and pick up some fish batter and we would eat them.
We upheld our end of the deal and so did he. As evening fell, we were throwing fresh fish fillets into hot grease along with cooking potatoes on the fire. As night fell, we were entertained by a meteor shower overlooking the river while chowing down!
It should be no wonder why my life is dedicated to fishing and the outdoors!
The Proper Way To Prep And Cook Fish On A Fire Immediately After Catching Them
I’ve been a part of several catch and cooks over the course of my life and not one can I say turned out bad. There is a process that should take place to ensure that your fish are not only delicious but safe to eat as well.
Keep Your Fish Alive As Long As Possible
If you have a livewell, then you should have no problem keeping your fish fresh even if you start in the morning, and don’t quit until evening. If not so fortunate, then you’re going to have to decide which is better in the stringer vs. fish basket debate. Regardless of the method you use, take caution as to not let the fish die off early, and waiting all day before getting them on ice.
Discarding Your Fish Scraps
If you’re only dealing with a few small fish fillets, then it’s not the worst thing in the world to throw the carcasses in the water. Turtles and crayfish will take care of them quickly.
If on the other hand it’s a good-sized mess, then consider burying the fish in a small whole covering up the stench and keeping racoons away. The disregarded remains will enrich the soil spurring plant growth and completing the circle of life.
Cleaning Your Fish Fillets Off In Water
I go about this step in a couple of ways. First, I always rinse the fish fillet off in the water that it came from knocking off any remaining undesirables that can be seen by the naked eye.
Then depending on if running water is available or not, I will wash the fillets thoroughly by filling a small container with fresh clean water. A bottle of water works just fine if you don’t have access to running water!
Battering Your Fish Before Cooking It
A very important but sometimes overlooked part of catching and cooking fish immediately is the ingredients that will be used to dip the fish into. If you’re using milk or eggs, be certain to keep them below sixty degrees. While your fire should be hot enough to kill off any bad bacteria, any under cooked fish could lead to food poisoning. The eggs and the milk could compound the problem.
Finally Cooking Your Fish After Catching It
A good tip Shelby taught me early on is when the pan is hot enough to cook fish, you’ll know by dropping a tiny piece of batter into the oil. If it starts simmering, then you’re ready to go!
The important thing to remember is cook the fish evenly flipping them a couple of times allowing the entire fillet to reach that dark golden brown. It doesn’t take long and since you’re about to reward yourself with a hard day’s work do it right!
It’s Time To Eat!
It’s been a long enjoyable day, soon to be followed by nightfall. By now you’ve grabbed a couple of slices of bread, some lettuce, tomato, and added your favorite sauce making the most delicious fish sandwich you’d ever had. You’ve earned it! Enjoy It! and…..go back for seconds!
Catching and cooking fish immediately after you catch them on a fire is probably the most rewarding of all ways to eat them. Being out on the water knowing it’s up to you to bring home dinner adds a whole new element of fun to the game.
We make sure to get back to our roots a few times each year and have developed a routine and this way of cooking comes natural for us.
If it’s your first time doing it try to go prepared, be sure to learn from your mistakes, and most importantly…Make Memories!