This winter we spent a weekend with Women On Ice on Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota. The founder, Barb Carey, gave us these excellent tips for having a successful fish fry. If you’re lucky enough to catch dinner, here are five things to consider before you heat the skillet up.
Bleed The Fish Out. Not only does bleeding out produce a clean, white fillet, but it’s also a humane way to kill the fish. To do this, you just cut the artery that runs along the gills on the underside of the fish. You’ll know immediately if you’re in the right spot, and they bleed out quickly. A small knife like the Kershaw Chive is perfect for this application, and it’s safer as well.
Choose a quality knife. You’ll need a fillet knife that holds an edge and preferably has a grippy handle. The Kershaw 7.5″ Narrow Fillet knife does an excellent job with freshwater fish, and the blade has the right amount of flex, making it easy to prepare dinner.
Keep the fish cold! This isn’t an issue when ice fishing, but in the summer, it’s essential. An ample sized live well will do the trick, but a stringer will suffice as well. In both cases, the best practice is still to clean the fish sooner rather than later.
Go with airtight storage if you won’t be eating it all. If you’re lucky, you’ll land more fish than you can eat at your fish fry, and you’ll have a meal for another day. An easy way to accomplish this is to put the fillets in a plastic Ziploc bag and submerge it in water. This will force the air out, and it will last longer in the refrigerator (use within two days) or freezer.
Know the law. Different states have different regulations for transporting filleted fish. For example, in Minnesota, you have to leave part of the skin on the fillet to identify if necessary. Make sure you learn the regulations in your particular state.
There’s nothing quite like frying up your catch for friends and family after a long day of fishing. It’s rewarding on many levels, and following these simple tips will make the whole process that much easier. Our secret fish fry batter? That’s a story for another day!