Of Women and Fish: A Patron’s Shore Lunch
The kayak dawdled in the shallows whilst umpteen blue gills and assorted sun-fish loitered just beneath the hull. The sunlight had ebbed behind a bank of thickened clouds, and a bald eagle lit atop a shoreline maple tree, like a huge, feathered monolith fit for the gods. It was a fair day on the water, even tho progress was slow. Fishermen like to bellow that its not the fish count that matters where angling is concerned, but rather the act of fishing being what is important. Yeah. The truth is that’s just what we tell ourselves when we suck monkey butts. We get all poetic about things, often gazing henceforth to the horizon with gray, marbled eyes; turning our chiseled, Norwegian jaw line to the catch the golden sunlight of a quickly fading day. We stroke our grizzled chin, and then after some consideration of the matters at hand, generally come to the conclusion that we still suck, and casually shrug our shoulders upwards in a disheartening gesture of bitter defeat. Sometimes you just can’t get the fish. They just stare up at you, taunting thee, laughing little bubbles up at you and your meager pittance. You are but the unwanted blight in their aquatic world. No better than the biologic residue floating off their poo which resides at the bottom of the lake. Unless, however, you are lucky enough to have in your possession the humble J-Bug.
That’s what my elder brother coined it anyways, after its inventor who namely is me. The “J-Bug” is your classic fly tier’s brain thrust. A conglomerate affair of elk hair, a hank of neatly wrapped chenille, a size 10 nymph hook, and a highly selective draft of re-purposed ceiling fan parts. I dunno, but it works. When all else fails, the J-Bug works. Time was ticking, and the day was morphing towards night, so I tied one on and got to work. The fly rod hooped immediately into action, as if I knew what I was doing, it’s tip pulsing, the 7-pound leader slicing through the dark water, and within a half-hour I had half a limit already. That was good enough for this bloke. I laid down the fly rod, and unshackled my little thermos, drawing a hot cup of tea whilst adrift by a bed of lily pads. Well that was easy, I thought, quietly sipping my brew and studying the surface of the water. The old J-Bug did it again. For kicks I tied on something else, if for any other reason than to validate the worth of the J-Bug. But I promptly caught two more blue gill instead, and it wasn’t even a challenge. So yet again, I tied on something else, something a wee bit less appetizing- some unraveled, sickly looking clot of thread resembling a disheveled house fly with its tongue hanging out. And I couldn’t keep the dang fish away. Ten minutes later, however, and this is a fact – nothing… Not even a rise. That’s a day on the water for you. That’s fishing. We cannot understand fish anymore than we can understand women. The latter perhaps life’s finest enigma.
The next day, back at the Pond-Side Pit, it’s shore lunch time as the aroma of potatoes and onions frying on the old kettle grill dally forth into the still, evening air, courtesy of the cast iron deep dish pan from the good folks at Craycort Cast Iron Grates. This is the good life, people. You spend the whole day out-of-doors, so why would you go inside now, just for supper. Nay, fire up the outdoor kitchen instead, and lavish in the enduring pleasures patron to the pit. Firstly, chop the spuds uniformly, add a little oil, and be mindful to scoop them around, circulating the tater population for even cooking. For taste, we lightly dashed them with some Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. And after they were almost, but not quite done, we moved them over to the griddle portion of the grate to finish off there, and proceeded to fill the now vacant pan with enough oil for a quaint spot of deep-frying. Pop your cholesterol pills, because man, this is going to be good!
Time to prep the batter. Here’s the recipe for that.
Basic Batter for Fish
- 3/4 Cup of flour
- 2 Tablespoons corn starch
- 1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 Teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon salt
- 3/4 Cup of water
Now make sure you start with good, hot oil before dropping your hard earned plunder in there. You all know how to do this. I like to drip a little batter in the oil and see what it does. You can even stick a match in the oil, and if the match lights, you’re good to go. We lined up the cast iron pan over direct heat, to get that oil good and hot. When everything chimes in accord with your pitmaster instincts, dip your fish in the batter, and let the frying commence!
Let it be said, because it true, but the sound of your once upon a time elusive quarry frying up in a vat of hot oil, accompanied by occasional nasal drifts of fried potato and onion, well there is no better illumination upon the skin of your soul that you have done something very good this day. Leastwise for your belly that is. Not to mention that small, often times forsaken tendril of real estate in a man’s mojo, that every once in a while needs to effectively and without error, “live off the land“, if but for any other reason than because he can. It feels good. Tastes good too. Check out these crispy fillets, people!
Oh yes. Pardon this patron, but I’m sorry, I’m going to take a bite of this right in front of you. You’re just going to have to deal with it.
Crispy, hot, flaky and succulent. Man! For what swims in yonder waters, for to court my iron pan and kettle grill, I salute thee. Nay, I devour thee. You gotta remember to breathe people. It helps by and by.
Deep-fried pan fish sided with fried potatoes and onions. Now that’s some kind of good! And your classic shore lunch, once again, patron to the pit.
Used to go on fly in fishing trips when I was younger and I always will remember the fish fry’s we had. Thanks for sparking the memory.
July 29, 2015 at 3:57 pm
Sounds like great memories. Thank on sir!
July 29, 2015 at 4:01 pm
We used to go croppie fishing in the spring, they were always divine with some lemon pepper and cornmeal batter and then deep fried.
July 29, 2015 at 5:30 pm
Oh yes, that’s classic good times concerning fish. Love it! Very tasty!
July 29, 2015 at 9:18 pm
July 29, 2015 at 7:25 pm
July 29, 2015 at 9:18 pm
I am falling deeply in love with your cast iron grill grates. The deep fryer is genius. I think I need this.
July 29, 2015 at 9:33 pm
Our wants are many, and our needs are few. But yes, these grates are a hootenanny. If you got yourself a weber kettle, they will fit right in. Lots of cool insert accessories too.
Great to hear from you, Todd.
Take care, man!
July 29, 2015 at 11:19 pm
That looks amazing and I don’t even like fish!
July 30, 2015 at 3:03 am
Well, deep fried “anything” is probably good, right!
July 30, 2015 at 9:32 am
David caught a bunch of 6-8″ small mouth bass last week on one of our canoe trips. They bit like crazy! Too bad we can’t/don’t eat anything that comes out of the river. It sure would be nice to come home with supper. I’m envious of your grates still…
July 30, 2015 at 6:34 am
Sounds like a good time. Yeah, I recall you saying that once before, that you wouldn’t fish from that river. We have a similar one around here, namely the Mississippi, and I do fish it on occasion. But the thought of eating something from those waters is reminiscent of making supper in the toilet. Just can’t do it!
July 30, 2015 at 9:37 am
I never heard of the “if it lights a match” trick to check grease temperature. Thanks for the tip. 🙂
July 30, 2015 at 12:16 pm
Yup, the strike anywhere kind of matches I believe. It might work with other matches too.
Tight lines TJ!
July 30, 2015 at 1:31 pm
That fish looks amazing.
July 30, 2015 at 4:02 pm
July 30, 2015 at 4:33 pm
This is one of my all time favorite meals. Simple and spectacular. Enjoyed your write-up equally as much. Thanks!
July 31, 2015 at 6:33 am
Oh yes, agreed! Love a little fish and potatoes now and again.
July 31, 2015 at 2:33 pm
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So amazing! craving
August 1, 2015 at 11:31 am
I remember when shore lunch was PB&J with granola. I’m jealous. I have never heard of the match trick. Do you need to use a kitchen match or will a standard match work? Thanks PotP.
August 2, 2015 at 7:55 am
Well a peanut butter sandwich is nothing to hang your head over! Not sure about your match question. The times I’ve tried it, I was always using the strike any where kind of match. So this is a good question. I guess some experimenting is on order.
August 5, 2015 at 9:41 am
Well done! Just back from the “Land of Fish & Chips” and yours looks to compete admirably!
August 7, 2015 at 2:36 pm
Howdy Mrs Deerslayer! Good to see you back, lass, and hope you had a good trip afield!
August 7, 2015 at 2:42 pm
We just got back from a trip to the USA and the emails, blogs, etc. are backlogged. But, I will always make time to read and savor your posts. The fish looks great. I dropped downtown this afternoon to pickup some seven inch long shrimp we call langostinos. I got them cleaned up and we will be eating them tomorrow.
Keep up the good work, my friend. Life is good.
August 8, 2015 at 8:43 pm
Thank you kindly, John. Good to hear your back in the folds of paradise once again. Hope your vacation to the states was everything on wanted too. I’ve missed your online antics and look forward to you getting back in the groove of things again. About to go light the pit here for dinner. A rack of beef ribs are on the menu, cherry smoked for 4 or 5 hours. Life is good indeed.
Take care, John and Mary in Ecuador
August 9, 2015 at 11:42 am
You make me miss my fly fishing days. (sighs, leans back in chair, and takes a sip of coffee)
August 11, 2015 at 6:06 am
Yeah. Didn’t know you were a fly fisher once upon a time. You should take it up again, my friend. Time spent fishing is not deducted from our life span! I love to fish. Especially on the fly.
August 11, 2015 at 1:37 pm
That looks really good. Gonna gave to give that fish batter a try!
December 21, 2016 at 10:39 pm
Yeah it was quite tasty, as I recall. Nothing better than a fresh shore lunch. Man!
Thanks Brian! Good to see you swing by, mate!
December 22, 2016 at 9:06 am