I recall when my now-16-year-old daughter first experienced fishing. At age 6, she didn’t catch a fish while casting a line off a dock, but she officially was “hooked” on fishing.
She talked about the fish that got away for years. I witnessed a striped bass nibble her bait, but then it cleverly avoided her hook for the rest of the afternoon. She was very persistent.
She became a classic “fisherperson” with a “fish that got away” story. Her fish has grown progressively larger as time has passed. In fact, by today’s estimate, it’s probably about one-third her size.
That fish had her name on it. She asked our friends to promise not to catch it because she expected it to grow much larger by our return visit at the end of summer. Shaking her little fist for emphasis, she vowed to catch that fish. She never got her fish, but I think it led to her love of fish and seafood to this day.
Fishing is a popular and relaxing sport that sometimes results in a tasty meal. Be sure to learn about the fishing guidelines at your destination. Because fish is highly perishable, follow some rules to keep your catch at its best.
To help ensure a safe and tasty meal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends the following:
- Scale, gut and clean fish as soon as possible after they’re caught.
- Keep live fish on stringers or in live wells when possible, but be sure they have enough water to move and breath.
- Wrap fish, whole and cleaned, in water-tight plastic and store on ice.
- Keep 3 to 4 inches of ice on the bottom of a cooler. Alternate layers of fish and ice.
- Store coolers out of the sun. Cover the coolers with a blanket to insulate them against the sun.
- Eat fresh fish within one to two days or freeze it. For best quality, use frozen fish within three to six months.
You don’t need to catch your own fish to enjoy it. When purchasing fish, use your eyes and nose to help you make your decision. Look for firm flesh that springs back when pressed and be sure your selection has a fresh smell, not an unusually strong “fishy” smell.
To determine amounts to purchase or prepare per serving, consider these guidelines. Allow about 1 pound of whole fish (as it comes from the water), 1/2 pound dressed fish or 1/4 pound fillet per serving.
Cook fish until it flakes with a fork, but be cautious not to overcook it or your entrée will be rubbery or dry. Experiment with cooking methods. Try grilling, baking, poaching or frying your catch.
Here’s a quick and easy way to enjoy the “fish of the day.” For more information, see the NDSU Extension Service publication, “A Pocket Guide to Care and Handling of Fish from Stream to Table” FN 535 at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/landing-pages/food-and-nutrition/a-pocket-guide-to-care-and-handling-of-fish-from-stream-to-table-fn-535
Baked Fish Fillets
1 pound fish fillets
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. grated onion
Paprika (if desired)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If fillets are large, cut into desired portion sizes. Allow about 1/4 pound per portion. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Mix melted butter, lemon juice and onion. Dip fillets into mixture and arrange in baking pan. Pour remaining mixture over fish. Bake uncovered until fish flakes with fork, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with paprika before serving if desired.
Makes four servings. Each serving has 160 calories, 7 grams (g) fat, 0.5 g carbohydrate and 22 g protein.