Now that you have caught them, how do you prepare them? Share your recipes!

By Don Ingram
    I am frequently asked questions about how I find topics to write about. While on the road competing in tournaments, one would be surprised at the topics discussed while waiting to register for a tournament or just at the motel after a practice day.
   While at a registration for a Renegade tournament classic on Kentucky Lake, a discussion on the best way to prepare and fry fish seemed to be a good way to pass the time.
   The remainder of the article describes some general tips to increase the flavor, texture, and enjoyment of your next catch.
   First and foremost in the conversation was preparation.
   Have you ever prepared or purchased a meal in a restaurant only to take a bite of fish and notice the bite tasted “fishy” and didn’t meet your expectations? Chances are the fish was not handled and prepared correctly.
   Whether you prepare fish by scaling or filleting them, the trick is to keep as much of the blood out of the meat and eliminate the red meat.
   The easiest way to accomplish this task is to place the fish in a cooler of ice as soon as the fish has been caught or shortly thereafter. The cold temperature causes blood to move to the backbone and organs away from the meat. When the fish is cleaned, the meat remains white or pink.
   When preparing fresh or frozen fish that has been thawed, trim or remove all the visible red meat from the fish or fillet.
   All species of freshwater fish have a vein through the center of the meat that must be removed. The red meat, skin, and small amounts of blood that remain in the meat through the preparation process are the key reasons the meat tastes “fishy.”
   For most of us, fish tastes best when fried or deep-fried.
   When preparing to fry fish, most individuals use a corn meal or some type of batter mixture. Beat an egg in a bowl and dip the fish in the egg. Pour a generous portion of any type of corn meal in a gallon plastic bag. Take the pieces of fish coated with egg and drop in the gallon bag of corn meal, seal, and shake.
   Citrus-flavored soft drinks, such as Ski or Mellow Yellow, or even beer can be substituted instead of egg to provide a slightly different flavor. Whether frying in a pan or deep-frying in a cooker, the temperature of the oil is critical. The oil must be at least 375 to 400 degrees to seal the batter and prevent the fish from becoming saturated and greasy.
   The amount of time the fish is left in the oil depends on personal preference. Leave it in longer for crispier fish and shorter for a thinner batter coating. While it may be too hot to catch fish, it’s never too hot to eat them.
   Send your favorite ways to prepare fish to BarrenRiverblog@gmail.com. We will put together a blog of the recipes.

Don Ingram publishes an outdoor article entitled “Outdoors with Don Ingram” that is printed in various publications throughout Kentucky. He is a two-time All-American qualifier. Don has been very successful competing in tournaments in Kentucky and Tennessee. He has appeared on numerous outdoor television programs like, “Kentucky Afield,” Walmart’s “Great Outdoors,” and “Outdoors with Dave Shuffett,” aired on the Outdoor Life Network and the Outdoor Channel. Don is a Pro Staffer for the following companies: Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Shimano G-Loomis Rods, Bandit Bait Company, Prowler Soft Plastics, Mustad, Optima Batteries, Lunker Lure, and P-Line.

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