Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Oven-Fried Catfish

One of the small catfish stalked in the pond.
With pink Barbie Zebco fishin' pole in hand, my 3 year old daughter followed me down to the pond in search of some not-so-illusive catfish. I've taken her fishing, briefly, a couple of times before, but without any luck. Usually she's too distracted with everything else going on around her she can only focus on fishing for about 5 minutes before she runs off to chase squirrels. Today wasn't much different, however, we did triumphantly catch a couple catfish for our evening meal, even if it was like shooting fish in a barrel.

I found this fish farm slash seafood store, Cedar Creek Fish Farm, out in the country outside of Fayetteville, NC while perusing the internet for a place that sells catfish fillets. All the grocery stores in town only sell freezer burnt catfish "nuggets" and I wanted something fresh. This fish farm sells catfish, oysters, crabs, etc., and will let you fish for a small fee out of their ponds and charge you per pound of fish caught; no catch and release. I thought this would be perfect to take my daughter out to. Whether it was on the end of her line or out of a tank, we were bringing home dinner regardless.

Admiring the catch of the day with her orange face from snacking on Cheetos.
We cut up a large shrimp we bought from the storefront and put some on a small circle hook 5 feet below a bobber. It only took about two minutes before we had our first fish on. I reeled it in most of the way and then gave her the pole. She had a hard time reeling it in so she just walked backwards until it was up on the bank. I put it on a stringer and threw out another cast. Sure enough, within 30 seconds we had our second fish, which slid down the bank and back into the pond after I removed the hook. When we had our 3rd fish on I decided to give her the net and let her net it. We took our 2 fish up to the storefront and had it filleted, put on ice and took it home.

Here is how I cooked it.

Oven-Fried Catfish

1 Beer
1/2 cup hot sauce
2 Tablespoon corn starch

Marinate the catfish fillets in about a half a can of Beer and a half a cup of hot sauce in the fridge for 30 minutes or so. Drink the remaining Beer. Mix enough cornmeal to dredge the fillets through with the corn starch and as much salt and pepper as you want to put in there. When the fillets are done marinating pat them dry and coat them in the corn meal mixture. Place the fillets on an oiled baking sheet and then spray them with some cooking spray. Cook for 15-20 minutes at 450 degrees. It's that easy.

Monday, March 5, 2012

One hot hour

Another awesome day out in the bay near Destin, FL. Really it was one awesome hour, but it made up for the rest of the day. We went out in the later half of the day. It was raining heavily just North of us, but we didn't get a drop where we were. It was a bit windy, however. We were trying out some new spots we hadn't yet hit, but weren't having any luck. On the way back in we decided to swing by our usual spot for a bit before we packed it in.

Redfish just shy of 22-inches.
When we got there it was empty. Nobody else was out there fishing. We pulled in and tied the boat off on one of the docks and started fishing. I threw a live shrimp out and set the pole down and started rigging my other rod. Before I could even get the hook in the water a fish was going crazy on the end of my first line; a feisty little 15 inch Redfish. I threw him back and reloaded the hook with another shrimp and threw it out. I got to my second line and rigged a live shrimp and sent him on his way. At that moment Jimmy hooked into one. I grabbed the net and helped him get the decent sized Redfish into the boat. Then I went to my line and sure enough had a fish on. He felt big. He started pulling line off the reel and had the drag screaming for a moment. Jimmy grabbed the net and brought him in the boat; a beefy 20-inch Black Drum. Then he got a hit on his other line, which nearly took the pole for a swim. He rushed over to it and pulled in another nice Redfish. We were running into a serious problem...we only had one net and there were too many fish! It went on like this for about an hour. Every cast, no matter what the bait, we were getting something.

Bluefish that took the Rattle Trap
As the action began to slow I had noticed a few baitfish jumping out of the water like they were running from something off to my right about 30 feet away. I took the shrimp off my line and put on a 3/4 oz Rattle Trap lure and threw it on the other side of where they were jumping. I reeled it in across where I thought they were and a 15-inch Bluefish hit it hard. After I brought him in the boat the baitfish stopped jumping. He must have been the only one harassing them. They can thank me later when they're big and tasty.

Sheepshead chompers
We ended up keeping four Redfish, one Black Drum, one Sheepshead, and one bluefish. Normally I wouldn't keep that many fish, but since we were having a big BBQ over the weekend, we kept what we could. Here his how we cooked them.

We smoked a Sheepshead and two Redfish (I think) in an eletctric smoker. We did a wet smoke were you put a pan of water in the smoker to create steam and used wood chips to create smoke. We cooked them for a few hours along with some wings. The flesh just melted off the bones and had an awesome smokey flavor.

We ended up grilling the other fish as well as some Speckled Trout on a gas grill along with some local shrimp. No matter how you season your fish, cooking them on the grill is awesome. We used lemon pepper and other various seafood seasonings.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fillets bigger than your face

Weekday fishing is awesome if you can get out of the office. Weekday fishing when it's a little rainy and foggy is especially awesome. During the week there are far less people out on the water, so more fish for me (at least that's my theory). If the weather sucks, than all the better. Nobody fishes in crappy weather. Me, I don't care. The fish gotta eat, regardless. I'll suffer through some rain and cold, even wind to a certain extent, to catch fish. 

Speckled Trout
I was able to get out of work about an hour early the other day with my boss and we took the boat out for about an hour and a half and fished one of our lucky spots in the Southern end of the bay near Destin, FL where we kill it about 85% of the time. It was pretty foggy and there was a light rain. When we got there there were a few old-timers that were just leaving. They said they caught a couple keeper Redfish and Speckled Trout, but threw them back. 

I grabbed a live shrimp out of the live well and hooked him underneath his horn, around his brain and out his back and then threw him out in the water toward some docks about 30 - 40 feet in front of me. I had a 1/32 oz split shot a few feet above him for a little extra weight to cast him out a little further and to get him to the bottom quicker, about 14 feet down. BAM!!! Almost right away a 17-inch Speckled Trout hit him. In the live well he went. 

Not too long after that my boss had something nibbling on a second pole he had used to throw a shrimp out while he fished the other side of the boat. He set his rod down and set the hook on the other. He ended up pulling in a nice 18-inch Sheepshead. And if you've never looked inside a Sheepshead's mouth, well, lets just say you don't want to stick any fingers anywhere near it. They have these teeth that look like sheep teeth (hence "Sheep's head") except they have multiple rows going back into their mouth. Freaky. They use their teeth to eat barnacles and crustaceans. Next time I catch one I’ll take better pictures of its mouth so you can see. 

While we were screwing around with this fish another one took the shrimp on the pole he had just set down. It was another Sheepshead, but it got off. We didn't catch anything after that all the way until the sun had set and it was dark. That's when I pulled another, "hey, this is my last cast and then I have to get going," moment and, of course, that’s when I hooked into an 18 inch Sheepshead, myself. This was the first time I’d ever caught one. In the live well he went with the others and we took them back to the house. I can’t wait to taste him.

Fillets the size of dinner plates!