Ah, of all the thoughts of spring, fishing brings the happiest thoughts. Some were lucky enough last weekend to make the opening day and week of trout season. Well, I don’t know if lucky is the word, because last week the fickle month of March brought winter back full force to Missouri and many other parts of the country.
But, back to fishing. I grew up in a fishing family. My grandparents had a cabin on Kentucky Lake and every summer I spent at least one week there with all my cousins. In addition to fishing, we just enjoyed being together. We rode in the boat with grandpa, we swam, we fought, we even tried sleeping outside once until the mosquitoes drove us back to our pallets on the cabin floor.
My dad was a fisherman extraordinaire. We lived along the Mississippi River and my favorite memories of fishing with him are night fishing on the river. He had a huge river boat with very high sides. I am now the proud owner of that boat, well, it’s parked in my son’s back yard.
We would layer ourselves with Avon’s Skin Soft (that really does keep the mosquitoes away), make sure the lantern had enough fuel, load the other equipment and head out for the nearest boat landing.
We would set the trotlines and then move on out for some pole fishing.
If you’ve never caught a river catfish, you haven’t lived. Many times it’s just as exciting and tiring as deep sea fishing.
Dad sold some of the catfish at an impromptu fish market set up near town and took the smaller ones home for Mom to fry up.
Many times, looking back over my teen years, I realize that this is one of the things that kept me out of typical teenage trouble. I was too busy fishing with my dad to go cruising town with my friends. Funny too, now I believe that he planned it, but most of our excursions were on weekend nights.
I married into a fishing family. My in-laws had a ‘clubhouse’ near Bloomsdale with a small farm pond. That became my next favorite fishing spot. It was full of crappie, sunfish and catfish.
There’s nothing more satisfying than to fill your stringer with some good-sized crappies, knowing that the mother-in-law will fry them up the next day. After you’ve got supper on the stringer, it’s time to have your lunch of Vienna sausages, a cold RC Cola, some chips and maybe a MoonPie for dessert.
After lunch, I always baited my hook, put a big sinker and a bigger bobber on the line, and threw it out into the deep water. Then I would pull the straw hat down over my face and take a nap, holding the line between two fingers, knowing that I would feel the slightest tug.
With the sun shining down on my head, a full tummy and a feeling of satisfaction, I would take an afternoon nap.
I loved doing this so much that I was sitting on the pond bank by myself two days before my first child was born. I was a little clumsy, but, by golly, I caught enough fish for our supper that night.
I’ve written before about fried fish and how nothing makes them better than to roll them in Andy’s Seasoning and then deep-fry them.
Trout, however, are a different story. The flesh does not stand up well to frying, so baking or grilling is the best was to prepare them.
Butterfly the trout. Dab butter over the middle of a large piece of aluminum foil and sprinkle with lemon juice and your favorite spices. I use salt, pepper and Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. Place one side of the trout, skin side down, on the mixture.
Follow the directions on the back of a Stovetop Stuffing box, using some lemon juice in the water. Sprinkle more seasoning on top of the trout and then cover it with the stuffing.
Put the other half of the trout over the stuffing and then wrap tightly. Place on grill until you can hear the butter bubbling. Grill for about 40 minutes. If using an oven, bake 10 minutes for each inch of thickness.