Monday, 27 June 2016

A Paddle Down the River.

Getting away from the crowds has been a priority as of late and few ways of doing so are better than on a kayak. With a couple paddles under our belts this open water season (all producing many fish and great scenery), I find myself looking forward to new bodies of water to fish and explore from the kayak. We took a paddle down a small river a few weeks back on what turned into a beautifully sunny day. With one vehicle parked at the bridge we planned to finish at, we headed a few miles away to another access point to prep the kayaks and head off. We caught a few fish before launching but it was clear through the hesitant bites that this pool had been heavily pressured.
Our first spot to fish would be a few hundred feet downstream and boy were they biting.The goldeye were plentiful and keeping us entertained, eager to bite both worm and minnow while the occasional creek chub and small catfish would have a chance to bite if the goldeye didn't beat them to it. We knew we had plenty of river to prospect and paddle so after a few handfuls of fish we headed off to seek out another spot to try. Eagles soared over head, red tailed hawks called in the distance and the cloud cover was slowly breaking apart to show clear blue skies.
The river changes over time with heavy flood years carving new paths through the shale and the mud. Banks erode and trees fall in and wash down creating snags and structure as well as obstacles to paddle through or around. It makes for an eventful and scenic paddle along with other hazards like electric fence separating pastures going across the river, some of which we had to beach and portage under as you just couldn't duck them on the water.
Jay, with the faster kayak, would find stretches of the river where he could strategically toss out a baited hook under a bobber and slowly drift downstream, usually landing and releasing at least one or two fish a pass while paddling back to reset his drift. I was having more luck beaching in the shallows and tossing out a bottom rig in the bends and straightaways, catching goldeye, channel catfish, bullheads and a few suckers. Frodo was doing the same, as well as taking things a step further with a bit of micro-fishing while he tied himself to a tree in the current. He ended up hammering a bunch of common shiners and the occasional creek chub while I fished a bend in the river waiting for him to catch up.
As the day progressed the wind picked up. We found shelter easily around most of the bends and continued to give each promising looking spot at least 15 minutes of fishing time. In the end we covered more than 5 miles of river, fishing dozens of spots while catching and releasing seven species of fish and keeping a few goldeye for the smoker along with a couple of catfish for a fish fry.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Fried Channel Catfish

After catching a few eater catfish on a recent fishing trip we decided to fry a few fillets up. Common cuisine across the south in both restaurants and at home is cornmeal dredged fried catfish and that's what we had planned. Catfish are a fairly easy fish to clean and when done correctly the innards are never pierced or exposed, simply feel down the rib cage and where it ends is where the cut for the tail fillets begins. Cut down to near the spine and follow to the tail, then repeat on the other side. You can then cut down along the back bone and over the ribs to pull off two more boneless slabs. When skinning take time and try and leave one or two millimeters of the flesh attached to the skin as you go along. (This is the bloodline or less desired darker meat). Soak the skinned fillets in salted water for 45 minutes or so to pull out any blood, leading to nice clean white flesh. You can then trim the meat of any darker bloodline and any yellow tinged flesh (less desirable meat) from the back slabs and get to dredging and frying or store in ziplock bags over night to fry the next day.

Dip the fillets in an egg wash or buttermilk and then dredge in the combined mixture listed below, once coated put fillets on a drying rack for five minutes before frying at 375 degrees for 6 - 10 minutes depending on size. Serve with a hot sauce or tarter sauce of your choice and a lemon wedge.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked or hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder