Does your area have stocked fishing ponds for kids? Here is a great fishing and cooking method to “hook” the youngsters!
by Leon Pantenburg
While catch-and-release is a good philosophy and sound resource management, some areas are stocked specifically so anglers can keep and eat some.
Where I live in Central Oregon, pan-sized trout are stocked in several area ponds, for the sole purpose of getting kids interested in fishing. And it really works!
All of my kids, and several of the neighbors’ kids, got started fishing at nearby Shevlin Park’s stocked trout pond.
A standard kid fishing rig of a push-button reel, a lightweight fishing rod, bright-colored mono-filament line and orange-colored PowerBait is a great, virtually foolproof outfit that gets the kids catching fish almost immediately. (There are bound to be fool-proof kid setups for your area – just check at the local sporting goods store!)
Generally, if Shevlin Pond had been recently stocked, and the fish were biting, each child would have a limit of two fish, which we would bring home to clean and cook. These trout are usually between 8 and 10 inches long, a perfect size for a skillet or large pan.
Kids learn quickly how to clean fish. Its one of those tasks that goes with the pleasure of catching them. Cleaning small trout is simple: Just chop off the head with a large, sharp knife (unless the recipe specifies otherwise) and gut the fish. Remove the entrails, wash with water and wipe down with a paper towel. (Obviously, the age of the youngster will determine how much of this process they get to participate in.)
Great-tasting fish starts as soon as they’re caught. Here are some tips from “Fish Alaska” magazine to help make those fish as good to eat as they are fun to catch:
- Fish flesh is very perishable, so keep fish alive as long as possible, and out of direct sunlight. A metal link basket or live box is best. A stringer can damage the flesh and increase chances of bacterial contamination. I usually take along a large cooler about half-full of ice, and toss the fish in there.
- Clean the fish as soon as possible, because time and heat can rob freshness and flavor. Gut and lightly rinse your fish to remove blood and bacteria. This will help prevent spoilage and will keep any parasites from migrating into the flesh of the fish. If making fillets, rinse the fish in clean cold water to remove blood, bacteria and enzymes.
- If the fish have been frozen, thaw fillets in the refrigerator, in the microwave or under cold running water. Food defrosted in the microwave should be cooked immediately. Thawed fish should be used within one to two days.
- Moist-heat cooking methods are unnecessary. Methods that develop flavor, such as broiling, baking or frying, are preferred. Cook fish until it flakes with a fork. Undercooking fish can be risky, while overcooking can result in a tough, bland-tasting dish.
Follow these simple “Survival Food” suggestions and you should end up with a tasty food memory to add to those other great memories of fishing with the kids.
Trout Foil Wraps
1 large square of aluminum foil (about 24-by-24 inches)
Salt, pepper and favorite seasonings
2 lemon slices
Small trout, head removed
Place the aluminum foil on a flat surface and put the trout on top. Sprinkle the fish, inside and out with salt, pepper and seasonings. Put lemon slices on top and a couple pats of butter. Wrap tightly.
Place on hot grill or directly onto the coals of a campfire. Cook about 5 to 8 minutes on one side, and then turn. The fish is done when the flesh is opaque and flakes easily.