Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

Of Fish and Men: A Little Surf and Turf

There are some days in the human condition when a man proper needs to catch his own protein. A time required when he simply, and to an end,  needs to fish. To stalk environs still wild, andIMG_46911 pluck from them that which lurks and swims in the murky underwaters. To hoist thy plunder proudly into the air, dripping there, sunbeams glinting of scaly flanks of slime, and declare that dinner is henceforth secured from this barren and trying land. And somewhere deep down, just past that soulish area where it ought to, it feels good. Indeed, it feels right. Such was the case recently, whilst afloat a lovely Wisconsin fishery that shall go nameless here, naturally, to throw off any would-be angling gumshoes, that my elder brother and I came into the good fortune of tight lines and nicely hooping rods. Pulling in assorted pan fish and frisky crappies, which when escorted by hook and line, floundered over the water’s surface with an acoustic DNA like that of the final slurps of a draining laundry tub. And we drained a few tubs indeed. We were men you see. Fishing men!

Speaking of, when we first fired up this blog, almost two years ago now, one of the first genuine interactions we made in the vastness of the blogosphere, was with another fisherman, one by the name of TJ Stallings.  A kindred soul. A man who has made his living for decades, in the business of fishing. A feat any bloke who has ever wetted a line and declared it good,  has just got to admire. And I do. If you fish much, you’ve probably heard of his company,  Road Runner by Blakemore. And to this day, I enjoy perusing through his blog,  to learn new things, and see what old TJ has been up to concerning fish craft. It’s a good resource, and if you’re into angling at all, as we are, you may wish to check it out some time at TJ STallings Fishing Blog.

Anyways, TJ must have grown a liking for the weekly drool which accumulated on his keyboard after reading our BBQ posts, and one day sent us a box of tackle, just because. That’s just how TJ is I guess. I thanked him accordingly, but it never felt like enough. So, TJ, this is another, albeit humble attempt of ours, thanking you for your kindness, and your generosity. And for just being plain cool. This is our fish dinner, you see, and it’s in your honor. This one is for you! Here then is how it went, and came to be.



So back at the lake, I tied on one of these 1/8th oz jig spinners, Reality Shad by Road Runner, and that was all it took. The games were on, you might say, and the fish were agreeable on Wisconsin waters. Rod tips pulsing towards China, blue gills and crappie on the run, 6 pound test line as tight as guitar strings, slicing through a quiet lake, whilst the summer breezes gently murmured through an oaken shoreline. Say what you will, but this is living!


And before I knew it, I had stringer well enough along for a decent supper. TJ would have caught them bigger, I know, but golly, I think I had just as much fun. So we loaded the boat, saddled up in the truck, and made our way homeward, over the border, and through the spanning countryside, winding roadways, and one well-placed Dairy Queen stop, all the while conjuring the glorious meal yet to come.


At POTP Head Quarters, first on the pit, and being the proper order of things, were the tin foil potatoes. They take about twenty minutes or so, over direct heat, flipping once for good measure. We like to season them with a dash of salt and pepper of course, and a few pats of butter to keep things sporty. We also tossed some frozen peas in there too, cause I heard once potatoes are not a real vegetable. What ever.



Meanwhile, and after the fish had been filleted out, they were dunked in a milk/egg mixture, and then shook about in a semi rhythmic fashion amid a plastic bag containing flour, salt, and pepper, until each morsel of fish meat was suitably dusted over.


Tossing some peach wood onto the coals, we preheated the griddle accessory of our craycort grate, added a little vegetable oil, and man oh man, what sweet pleasures then ensued when that cold fish hit the hot iron. The aroma and the sizzle, wafting into a beautiful, summer’s sky, whilst the tweety birds and men did rejoice. Man! And yes, that is a steak you see there towards the back of the pit, lightly seasoned in onion and garlic, and grilled to perfection. What can I say, I should have kept more fish! So surf and turf, of course,  was the only viable course of action here. One of which I was prepared to endure. Oh yes. A pit keeper proper does what he must!

The fish cooked very fast, like most fish do. Just a few minutes per side, until they flaked easily with a fork. And tho the cook was fairly swift, the day was still delightfully long and tapering. A morning on a tranquil, Wisconsin lake, plying our craft of rod and reel. Then a drive through the rolling countryside, windows down, bass boat in tow – our shadows flickering through picket fences in the pastels of a long, evening light.  And rounded off with a quiet spot of grilling at day’s end, at ease in the patio man chair, and an ice-cold beverage in hand. There are far worse ways to spend a day, people. I leaned back, tipped up the brim of my hat, legs crossed like a gentleman of leisure, and further mused over the day at hand. How the sunlight dappled through the fluttering cottonwood leaves, and the clouds yonder, drift lazy but with purpose over head, where the wood smoke so gently rises. That too, and memories of fish and of men, for be it also the essence this day, impressed gently on the emulsion of the soul.

I am content, and highly blessed.  And well fed. Amen.

Thanks again, TJ. Blessings!





Grilled tin foil potatoes, juicy steak seared and brought to medium, and a pile of freshly procured fish, fried over a peach wood fire, and all, every ounce of it,  patron to the pit. Man! Are you hungry yet!

41 responses

  1. May I not be cursed for mentioning my dislike of “most” fish (being forced to eat walleye at weekly VFW bingo and fish fries as a kid) but you sir, make this sound delicious, kudos!

    August 7, 2014 at 9:23 am

  2. I love eating fish and I have no problem cooking it. I have to admit that I have always hated fishing. I could never figure out the appeal of what draws one to the lake to fish. After reading this post and the way you described this adventure, I think I should give it another try.

    August 7, 2014 at 9:31 am

    • Oh you should! It does a body well to relax in a boat gently bobbing, with the sun on your shoulders, and the tweety birds in serenade. It soothes a person. And you need not even catch a fish to reap these benefits of fishing. Go figure. Many pursuits in life are worth a second chance. Just make sure it is a beautiful day, when you do it.

      August 7, 2014 at 10:01 am

  3. I love fish, we eat it all of the time! And I really love fishing!

    Okay, I like to cast my reel, let it float and then wind it back up -and start all over again. I’m not sure what I’d do if I actually ever caught anything! I have pliers because I’m freaked over taking the hook out of the fish. And that’s assuming I could even bring myself to hold the fish long enough to get the hook out. Apparently I’ve become squeamish in my old age.

    And yeah, there is no way on God’s green earth I’m cleaning my fish. Nor will I be within 50 yards of those who are.

    And that is why I pack PB&J.

    August 7, 2014 at 10:25 am

    • Haha, oh dear… A perfectly acceptable fish testimony! My lovely wife is just learning how to hold a fish, and pluck out the hook. It weren’t easy there at first, but she’s making great strides. She leaves the vicinity too, when I’m cleaning them. What can you do…

      Thanks for your fish story, Kate!

      August 7, 2014 at 2:39 pm

  4. What a perfect tale! Starting with the gift of tackle from T.J, this tribute post had a real feel-good factor. You guys know how to get to the heart of a boys day out and you certainly know how to fish! You caught some real beauties and cooking them on firey coals seemed so just right.
    Thank you for another great post.

    August 7, 2014 at 11:27 am

  5. Freshly caught fish on the grill is one of lifes great pleasures.

    August 7, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    • Now you’re talking!
      Is there a food you don’t like!?

      August 7, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      • Many won’t eat offal, liver, horseradish to name a few

        August 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm

      • Agreed on the horseradish and liver. I don’t think I even know what offal is!

        August 7, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      • Intestines, tripe, brain. Parts of the animal I would just as soon not see.

        August 7, 2014 at 3:40 pm

  6. Well, how about that. I am flattered to be mentioned on your famous blog, oh Patrons of the Pit. I am happy that you finally gave those Road Runners a good work out. Happier still that I was able to see you were able to dine on the fruits of your labor. Thank you!

    August 7, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    • Naw, the flattering is upon us, old chap! It’s an honor to have connected with you, and to get a little glimpse of your world, and how it spins. And yes them road runners sure did the trick that day. Quality tackle. I’ve done well with them on other occasions likewise, up in northern Minnesota. They work. Anyways, glad you caught this write up. Bless ya TJ!

      August 7, 2014 at 6:46 pm

  7. Reblogged this on TJ Stallings' Fishing Blog and commented:
    Well how about that. My friends at the Patrons of the Pit tested some Road Runners. 🙂

    August 7, 2014 at 6:08 pm

  8. laurie27wsmith

    Another classic blog post PotP, once again the words rolled across the page lulling the readers into a state of euphoria while waiting for the fire to be lit. What a meal. Who doesn’t like surf and turf? Sadly I’m not the worlds greatest fisherman but I have caught the odd one or two. I like big prawns (shrimp) on my steak, mmmm.
    Now then, have you ever thought of putting your recipes together and publishing an eBook? Because I believe it would do quite well.

    August 8, 2014 at 3:50 am

    • Thank you kindly, Laurie. I could handle some big shrimp on my steak too. Now you’re talking, old chap!

      And oh yes, I’ve pondered many a time cobbling a bunch of recipes together for a book. I think that would be a great idea. Only thing holding that project back is ignorance, probably. Not sure how to go about the business of producing an eBook, tho it looks maybe as simple as uploading it to the kindle publishing program. But I wanna do it right too. I remember some of your advice, earlier this year, to keep it all one long running paragraph, with no breaks I believe. Part of the goofy games you must play for the kindle formats. You mentioned some other things too, but I need to go back and re-read them. I’ve got some learning to do.

      And then there is also the very difficult ordeal of coming up with a title for the book. Titles always give me trouble for some reason. You’ve read a lot of our content. And you write a lot too. A wordsmith from down under. Heck, you write books! You’ve arrived! You’re the perfect fellow to ask. Got any good title ideas for us, Laurie?

      Anyways, thanks for chiming in. Always look forward to your comments!

      Take care, mate.


      August 8, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      • laurie27wsmith

        I’ll get back to you on this, the wheels are turning as I write. 🙂 Stay tuned.

        August 8, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      • Haha, OK Laurie. Don’t pull a muscle or anything!

        August 8, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      • laurie27wsmith

        They’re too rusty to hurt much. I’ll throw a little something together with some content from your blog and email it to you.

        August 8, 2014 at 10:15 pm

  9. As an outdoorsman, a foodie, and a writer, this is a beautiful piece, and you have gained a follower! “Writers” are a dime a dozen, but then there are those few folks who were born with a gift that no school can teach, and you my friend clearly have it. It doesn’t hurt that you’re frying my favorite panfish over open flames either!

    August 8, 2014 at 7:59 am

    • Wow, thank you very much for that! Sincerely. I think you and I will get along just fine!

      August 8, 2014 at 8:33 am

  10. Nothing in this world much better than a croppie, only an hour or so out of the water, seasoned with a little lemon pepper, rolled in cornmeal and dropped into the fryer. But I can see how a griddle over charcoal might improve on a good thing. Perhaps I should break out the heirloom cast iron skillet….

    August 8, 2014 at 8:54 am

    • Well said! Indeed, dust off that old griddle and bring some poetry to that fish!

      August 8, 2014 at 9:18 am

      • Now I just need to go catch some.

        August 8, 2014 at 9:22 am

  11. Reblogged this on THAT DANG OL' SHOW and commented:
    We like fish.

    August 8, 2014 at 3:33 pm

  12. Pan fish is some of the best eating around, period. I may have to grab my rod and head down to the local pond.

    August 10, 2014 at 8:35 am

  13. In a word, Yessuh!!!

    August 11, 2014 at 10:21 am

  14. Liz

    love what you did with that fish–yum. Do not share your appreciation for fishing, but someone must fish if I am to eat fish.

    Had my first slice of DIY bacon tonight–hoo boy. Nearly wept with joy and bliss.

    August 11, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    • Thank you kindly, Liz, and nice to the bacon!!! Ain’t it good tho. I need to do that soon. There ain’t nothing better. Man! I’m jealous now. Thanks.

      August 12, 2014 at 9:25 am

  15. Man that was a beautiful piece of writing! If I hadnt been reading it I would oike to have someone reading it to me! Your imagery reminds me of an old time radio program. AWESOME!

    Thanks for dropping in on my blog btw…

    August 12, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    • Wow, I love old time radio programs! They give me a nostalgic mushy feeling through and through. Many thanks for your comment, that means a lot.
      Take care

      August 12, 2014 at 9:01 pm

  16. Beautiful fish, fellas. And nicely cooked on your lovely CI grates! I have loved mine since you turned me on to them! I’m a dyed in the wool fly fisherman myself (both salt and fresh water) and love a good piscatorial tug… A nice yarn too, as they all are.

    August 12, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    • Thank you kindly, Sir. Always a pleasure when you chime in. Yeah, them grates are nice. Glad you’re enjoying them too. And oh yes, fly fishing is among my very favorite activities too. I’ve gotten much into the art of the long rod in recent years. In point of fact, I just did a bit of it last night on the pond, wooing some bass and blue gill in the late evening light. Good times.

      August 13, 2014 at 2:06 pm

  17. I am so jealous that you can cook your catch. It saddens me to say the Shenandoah River here in VA has high mercury levels in it. There are signs posted about limiting consumption. We figure if they warn you about it then we probably should not eat them at all. Shoot maybe I would even fish if we could cook them! Love this post!

    August 19, 2014 at 10:11 am

    • Thanks Debbie Spivey!

      Yeah, mercury sucks. The problem is wide spread too. And it’s sad. However, little fish like sunnies and bluegill are supposedly pretty low on the danger list, as they haven’t really had much time to absorb the bad mojo yet. That’s what I’ve read anyways. So we’ll enjoy a few of them each summer. Regardless, we love to fish, even if we don’t get to eat them. But then we’re weird I guess. It’s all good.

      August 19, 2014 at 11:21 am

      • What doesn’t kill us makes a stronger, right? 😉

        August 19, 2014 at 11:25 am

  18. Pingback: Of Fish and Men: A Little Surf and Turf - Best 2 Buy Outdoor

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