Reel to Creel

  I still CNR & I don't cook fish at home.  And, well, I'm still trying to like to eat fish.  So...why not create a page with fish recipes?!  It doesn't make sense, except many folks do eat their catch and I haven't seen any fly fishing blogs/websites which feature a recipe page. So, why not?   
  I'm looking for original recipes which are tasty & not too time-consuming(less cooking, more fishing!).  Recipes can range from something cooked over the campfire to fish dishes prepared at home for the family.  Heck, I may include a recipe or two for the days when there aren't any fish to take back to camp.  Want to post a recipe here? E-mail me at Want to comment about a post on this page? Go to my Home Page, look for same date post promoting this page, and write your comment/question there.

Dealing with a Pike to eat - by Brad Bohen posted 12/7/11

Pike and other Esox provide arguably the best table fare of any freshwater fish if properly handled from catch to plate.

Ideally a prime table pike will come from a clean and cold water source.  Late autumn provides a perfect time to capture a fat pike for the dining table.  Just prior to ice-up the water wolf puts on a huge feed bag and the results of that campaign can be noted in their prime flesh and eating condition.

Traditionally pike have been treated with caution by the epi-curious angler.  Practically every fillet knife wielding chef understands the bony nature of the pike carcass and there are some nifty tricks that various guides/anglers/chefs have invented to deal with the venerable 'Y' bones in removing the meat from the pike skeleton.

I'll not go into that method of pike handling instead diverging to my favorite school of cooking Esox - intact/whole.

First you have to capture a legal specimen for the waters you are plying.  In Musky Country we have a liberal size range to take an eating fish.  I prefer a table pike to be in the 25"-32" range depending upon the number of lucky guests that will enjoy the bounty.  Personally I never freeze a fish to eat; preferring instead to cook the prize fish fresh to honor the creature fully in the tasty glory that they offer right off the line!

With pike and most other freshwater fish it is KEY to fully bleed the fish as soon as it is caught for the best table fare.

Here is how I deal with a pike start to finish and I have been told that the results are as good as any fish anywhere:

Immediately upon catching a legal pike put a solid bonk between the eyes with a nice heavy piece of wood or metal pipe.  This will disable the fish for a spell without totally killing it - you want the heart to beat for awhile. 

The next step is to sever the gills (both sides) and start the bleeding out process.  If you do not care to have the head intact in the cooking then feel free to sever the entire head at this time - starting just behind the gill opening use a heavy sharp knife and lop off the melon completely.  A good 6" boner does the job well here.

Let the pike bleed entirely.  This may take a good fifteen minutes but letting the failing heart pump out all of the blood possible is key to getting the best possible flesh for the table.

After the bleeding out is finished, fully gut the pike - cleaning out all the entrails as well as both kidney strips along the inner-side of the backbone in the body cavity. 

Now completely scale the outer body.  You can use the edge of the fillet knife for this chore.  Take time to do a proper job and in the process most of the outer slime will also be removed.

After scaling the body, continue to wipe away all excess slime from the now scale-less skin.  Paper towels work very well for this work;)

Now you will have a prime piece of pike to work with!

Wipe both outside and inside of the pike dry, rub liberally with Olive Oil inside and out.  Salt and pepper the entire carcass to taste.

Now lay the prepared carcass and skin on a sheet of aluminum foil that is large enough to cover the fish with several inches overrun on each side...also tear off an identical sheet to cover after stuffing the cavity.

Stuffing the pike is simple...garlic, lemon, onion...slices along with butter.  If you want to be fancy then add some fresh dill sprigs or thyme.

Now wrap the masterpiece in two sheets of foil and turn the edges together to form a steam pocket. 

Put this package into a bed of glowing cedar coals if you are lucky enough to be still on the river...or if you must make due indoors, a 350F oven will do in a pinch.  Timing is pretty dependent upon the thickness of the pike and the size...but you will hear everything start to sizzle and come together at about 10 minutes...flip it over and continue cooking until you can pull the tail off the carcass...then it is done!

Sides of guide beans, bacon, home fried Yukon Golds and a salad will really impress...

It's simple and it is elegant at the same time.  The more care you take in bleeding and cleaning the more you will be rewarded after you peel away the foil!

Now you can lift all the meat off the bone like you would a chicken carcass.  Draw some butter and dip the flaky pike into it and you will soon understand why anglers in the know feel that a prime, well cared for pike is the most prized table fish in fresh water...walleye will never be the same!

A whole pike on the bone at say 26" will serve 6-8 guests.  It is amazing to me how many folks think that the fillet is the only way to enjoy freshwater gamefish...and how much good meat and flavor are tossed out!  Steaming a whole pike is a great way to maximize nature’s bounty and to share in the experience of being an angler fully with special family and friends.

Enjoy the Good Life...the Angling Life!

Regards - The Afton Angler
Brad Bohen

(More information about Brad is found in my Pike recipe preview post on the 'Home' page of this blog.  For Brad's account of how his world record-breaking Musky was landed, please visit this link: )

Trout Salad posted 11/3/10

(Fish & fish seasoning ingredients)
Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, or other
Salt & fresh, ground pepper
Lime (or lemon) juice
Chopped onion
2-3 pats of butter
Foil paper

(Salad ingredients)
Mayo or Miracle Whip
Horseradish (rec: inglehoffer Wasabi Horseradish)
Sweet pickle relish
Salt and pepper
*Add crumbled bacon and/or hand-cooked eggs, if desired.

* Clean the Lake Trout into 2 fillets, using 1 fillet for this recipe and refrigerating/freezing the other.  On the foil, place the fillet skin-side down and add seasoning ingredients to taste.  
* Gut the smaller Rainbow Trout and, on the foil, place the seasoning ingredients in the body cavity. 
* Remaining seasoning ingredients may be placed around the fish.  Seal fish in the foil, folding and crimping to seal tightly.  The fish may be baked, grilled, or cooked over a campfire(to bake, set oven temp to 350*).  The fillet or the smaller Rainbow Trout should be finished cooking after ~20 minutes, or 15-20 minutes, respectively.  The fish is usually done when it is sizzling in the foil.  To test if completely cooked, the fish will flake easily with a fork.
* While the fish is cooling, mix -to taste- the salad ingredients.  When the fish has cooled, remove the bones.  Lightly stir the salad ingredients into the flaked trout.  To retain the trout’s texture, do not over-mix.

* Make sandwiches or place on crackers for use as an appetizer.  As with any fish, use within a few days.

(This recipe was contributed by ‘Jackfish Kate’, an outdoorswoman and conservationist who has fished for 35 years and fly fished for 4 years.)  ~Twitch 

Campfire Trout  posted 10/4/10

1) trout
2) Old Bay seafood seasoning
3) cayenne pepper
4) Lowery's seasoned salt
5) foil
6) beer

* Gut your trout and cut off the head.
* Mix equal parts of the 3 seasonings together. Sprinkle on the inside and 'neck area' of the fish-wherever the flesh is exposed.  Season to taste.  Erik says he 'packs it in'. 
* Wrap the fish in foil.  This is important:  Keep the foil smooth against the fish's body.
* Place the fish on a grate directly over the campfire. Cook approximately 5 minutes each side.  Steam comes out of the foil when the fish is done. 
* Drink a beer while the fish cooks.
*  Slowly open the foil.  If the foil has been placed smoothly over the body of the fish, the skin/scales willl stick to the foil & come off the fish when the foil is pulled back.
* Turn the fish upright, use a fork to gently work flesh away from the spine, then pull the spine and rib bones away from the fish.
* Enjoy your Campfire Fish!

(This recipe came from 'Erik' who works at K&K Hardware in Bettendorf, IA.  Erik is a great source of information and knowledge on all things fishing and hunting. Of course Erik also fly fishes and he is increasing his stock of fly tying material at the store, too. ~Yes, this Quad Cities hardware store has a nice stock of fly fishing supplies.)  ~Twitch

No-Fish Fishing/Camping Recipes...

Bacon Salsa Wraps posted 4/10/11

1) 3-5 slices of bacon per person
2) Sun-dried tomato or whole wheat tortilla wraps. Lrg diameter size, found in non-refrigerated section 3) Chunky salsa, at least 2 TBS per person
4) Spinach, torn
5) Fresh cilantro, chopped
6) Diced tomatoes (optional)
7) Finely shredded cheese, sour cream, or guacamole (optional)
* Cook bacon, pat off the grease and place on wraps.
* Add rest of ingredients to taste.
* Fold and eat!

(I forgot the source for this recipe and have adapted it slightly. It makes a very hearty breakfast prior to a day of fly fishing and bushwhacking and, aside from cooking the bacon, is not time-consuming.  Fresh, diced summer tomatoes are a great addition and can stand in place of the salsa, too.  I'm planning to try heating pre-cooked bacon to see if it lessens cooking/clean-up time.) ~ Twitch


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