Category Archives: Fish Recipes

Cooking Bluegill with Mark Zona


from The Fishing Wire

Cook Your Catch: Bluegill with Mark Zona

Who doesn’t love a good fish fry? And when the fish getting dropped in the fryer is bluegill, well, to say you’re in for a treat is an understatement. What bluegill lack in size, they more than make up for in flavor. The firm, white meat has a mild, delicious flavor that flakes up nicely when fried.

For this recipe from Mercury Dockline, Mercury Pro Team member Mark Zona, co-host of “Bassmaster” and host of “Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show,” shows how he fries up this delectable little fish. It’s a simple recipe that’s easy to commit to memory, and will make you a favorite among family and friends.


  • 5 pounds bluegill fillets
  • 1 box Fryin’ Magic® Seasoned Coating Mix (16 ounces)
  • Cajun seasoning
  • 1 quart of vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 stick butter-flavored Crisco® shortening
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese


Start by soaking your bluegill fillets in milk for a couple hours. According to Zona, this step will enhance the flavor. And seeing how you have a bit of time on your hands before the fish is ready to be coated and fried, you might think about what you’d like to serve with your bluegill. You can go with a store-bought coleslaw or perhaps you make a nice green salad. In this case, use the time to slice up some vegetables to accompany the greens. Peppers, carrots, radishes, tomatoes and any other veggies you like will work perfectly. Of course, if you prefer, you can always go with some good old-fashioned French fries!

Once you’ve allowed the time for your fillets to soak, add one package of Fryin’ Magic and some Cajun seasoning to the bottom of a batter shaker. Next, add the fish to the top, put the lid on, tip the container upside down and shake gently to thoroughly coat each piece of fish. Now Zona doesn’t specify just how much of the Cajun seasoning mix to add, but that’s probably because when it comes to spice, everyone’s tastes are a bit different. 1-2 teaspoons should do the trick.

If you don’t have a batter shaker, you can just as easily coat your fish in another container with a lid. Whichever method you use, just be sure to coat each piece of fish evenly.

Once you have all of your bluegill coated, it’s time to get frying. In this video, Zona is using a deep fryer, but if you don’t have a deep fryer, a deep frying pan will work just as well. Whichever vessel you use, heat the oil to 375 degrees. Once the oil has reached the target temperature, add one stick of butter-flavored Crisco, if you like. It gives the fish an even richer, complex flavor.

Little trick when frying your fish – do not overcrowd the fryer or frying pan. Doing so will bring the temperature of the oil down, and when that happens, the fish will absorb an excess amount of oil and become soggy.

Fry the fillets for approximately 3-4 minutes. When the fillets begin to float and are a nice golden-brown color, you know you’re just about done. At this point, Zona recommends cooking for another 20-25 seconds. Next, scoop out the fish, drain any excess oil and transfer the fish on top of a couple layers of clean, dry paper towels.

Before you plate your bluegill, sprinkle a little grated Parmesan cheese on top. The richness of the cheese works nicely to balance out the spiciness of the Cajun seasoning. Serve alongside your side dish of choice, and, voila, dinner is served … Zona style! Enjoy.

To learn more about Mark Zona or “Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show,” visit You can also follow him on InstagramFacebookTwitter and YouTube.

Fryin’ Magic is a registered trademark of Little Crow Milling Company, Inc. Crisco is a registered trademark of Procter & Gamble Company. All other trademarks belong to Brunswick Corporation.

How To Cook Panko Crusted Perch Or Any White Meat Fish Like Bass Or Crappie



Panko-Crusted Perch

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 pound of boneless perch fillets
  • 2 to 3 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cup of Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, plus extra
  • Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 4 teaspoons of Sriracha sauce
  • 4 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. To make the spicy mayo, combine mayonnaise, Sriracha, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Add or subtract amount of Sriracha to taste. Set aside.
  2.  Assemble your dredging station: In a wide bowl, beat eggs until no whites are visible and mixture begins to form small bubbles at the edges. Pour Panko breadcrumbs into a shallow bowl/dish and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. Then pour flour into another. Heat frying oil to 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3.  First lightly coat a perch fillet with flour, shaking off excess, and then dip it into the egg mixture and then finally coat with Panko. Fry on both sides until golden and drain on paper towels or a cooling rack. Repeat with the rest of the fish, adjusting heat as necessary. As you work, keep fried fish warm in the oven on the “warm” setting.
  4. Do not overcrowd the fry pan — oil temperature will drop too quickly, which will result in greasy fried fish. Also, do not allow the oil to get too hot, as Panko breadcrumbs can burn quickly. Continually keep an eye on the oil temperature with a thermometer and adjust the heat as you cook. If you’re not used to working with Panko, it helps to have an extra set of hands in the kitchen.
  5.  Serve fried fish with spicy mayo for dipping and lemon wedges on the side. For a light meal, serve the fish in butter lettuce cups with sliced cucumber, pickled carrot and a dollop of spicy mayo on top.

– Recipe and photo by Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley, NEBRASKAland Associate Editor

Cooking Fish and Game


Cook Your Catch: Yellow Perch Tacos

Cooking your catch is ok as is catch and release. Nothing wrong with some catch and hot grease!

If you’re a fan of the Friday night fish fry, it’s very likely you’re familiar with yellow perch. This freshwater favorite might just be the ultimate fish for frying. That’s because its small fillets are tender and delicate, with a mild, sweet and delicious flavor profile.

For this installment of Cook Your Catch, Taylor Wright, of “The Canadian Tradition” television series, shows how to make yellow perch tacos. A dish that is at once simple and exquisite.


  • Two whole lake perch (or four prepared fillets)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce

Preparing the Fillets:

For this recipe, you can either purchase fresh, pre-cut yellow perch fillets or you can head out on the water yourself and catch your dinner.

In the video below, Wright shows his process for filleting perch. You can also check out this Dockline blog on How to Fillet Fish with a Fixed-Blade Knife. The same steps work for yellow perch.

Once you have all your fillets, be sure to rinse them in cold water.

Next, combine the breadcrumbs with the panko in a bowl and set aside. Crack a fresh egg in a second bowl, add the cream and whisk together to combine. Then place the flour in a third bowl.

It’s now time to dress the fillets and get them ready to fry. Dip each fillet, one at a time, into the flour, covering both sides of the fish. Then, do the same with the egg wash, making sure to coat the fillet thoroughly. Finally, transfer the fillet into the bowl with the breadcrumbs and cover thoroughly. Do this for all your fish, and then set aside on a clean plate.

Before you make the simple sauce, pour two cups of vegetable oil into a pan on your stovetop, and set the burner to medium heat.

Making the Sauce:

In a small bowl, combine a cup of mayonnaise with some of your favorite hot sauce. Be mindful of the fact that not everyone has the same tolerance for heat. Extra hot sauce can be placed on the table for anyone wishing to dial up the spice level.

Frying the Fish and Serving Dinner:

With your sauce prepared, check to see if your oil is hot enough to fry your fish. The easiest way to do this is to use a kitchen thermometer. The ideal temperature for frying fish is between 350 and 365 degrees. If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, place a wooden spoon into the oil. If you see bubbles forming around the spoon that float to the surface, then your oil has reached the appropriate temperature for frying.

Fry each of the fillets for a couple of minutes on each side. They should be golden brown in color. Carefully lay each of your perch fillets into the pan to prevent the hot oil from splashing. After you’ve cooked all the fillets thoroughly on both sides, lay them on some paper towels to remove any excess oil.

Then, place roughly one to one and a half fillets on top of the tortilla. You can use either corn or flour tortillas or a combination of both. Spoon some sauce on top of each tortilla and add a little chopped lettuce for color and crunch. Fold it up and dig in!  Just be careful – fish right out of the frying pan can be pretty darn hot.

And there you have it – yellow perch tacos. Simple. Easy. Delicious. Enjoy!

Video showing how to do it!

Tips On Cleaning and Cooking Trout

Trout, From Lake to Table
Tips on cleaning and cooking trout from Nebraska Game and Parks

By Larry Pape
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
from The Fishing Wire

Keep your catch of fish as fresh as possible and you will be rewarded with a wonderful meal that is the finale to a fishing trip. In mid-October, trout will be stocked across Nebraska in small city park ponds and state park lakes.

These pan-sized fish offer a person the delicious main course of a meal. From the lake to the table, every step is critical in making the best of what nature has given you.

Fish are a perishable food product and the quality of the meal is only as good as the handling of the fish after the catch. If practical, fish can be kept alive until just before cleaning. The best method is to keep them as cold as possible, as soon as possible. If you know you are going to be keeping fish, take along a cooler with ice and place them in it immediately after catching.

A 10-inch rainbow trout is one of the easiest fish to prepare for the pan. It is not necessary, nor advisable to skin or filet a small trout, as they have delicate flesh that is best kept whole. The method is simply to remove the internal organs and gills, and then wash.

Do this by making an incision along the belly from the vent to the gills, and disposing of the entrails. The gills may take a little more cutting to release them from the head. The head can be left on or removed depending on the diner’s sensibility. Notice a dark area inside and along the spine of the fish. This is the fish’s kidney and can be removed by gently rubbing while washing. It does not change the cooked product if left in the fish.

There are two easy methods for cooking trout:

Pan fry – Dredge in a mixture of flour, salt, pepper and seasoning of choice. Fry about 3 to 5 minutes per side in a quarter inch of medium hot oil. Use spatula to turn the fish gently. When done, place on a platter to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Bake – Wrap in foil and cook on the grill or in the oven. This allows each fish to be seasoned to the particular desires of the diner. Oil is necessary to keep the fish moist; use butter, olive or vegetable oil; just a splash will do. Spices can be delicate such as rosemary and parsley, or bold such as Cajun and curry, but remember that a little goes a long way. To add flavor and edible ingredients, include sliced onions, garlic cloves, capers, or artichoke hearts.

Seal this foil packet and bake on the grill grates or in the oven on a baking sheet for 10 to 15 minutes (350 degrees). Serve after resting for a few minutes and then placing each packet in front of the diner on a plate. Open carefully to release the steam and aroma.

A trout meal is best served with rice, vegetables and the stories of how they were caught.

If you are just getting into fishing and want more details, a helpful resource is Game and Parks’ Going Fishing Guide, available at For information on Fish Stocking, including the dates pf upcoming trout stocking,

Keep Your Fish Fresh!!

From Alabama Gulf Seafood

from The Fishing Wire

Note – i always keep my fish on ice overnight before fileting them!

Ask anyone about their top priority when it comes to seafood and you’re likely to get the same answer: Freshness matters most.

But what about your own kitchen? When it comes to seafood caught or bought at markets and stored in your fridge or freezer, how can you make sure you’re cooking and eating it while it’s still fresh?

These are important questions to ask. After all, the freshness of your seafood isn’t just a health and safety precaution—freshness affects the flavor of your product as well as the nutritional value you’ll get from it.

Here are a few ways you can make sure you’re buying, storing, and cooking only fresh seafood in your own home.

Use Your Senses When Buying Product
It might be tough to eyeball a fish and know when it was caught if you didn’t land it yourself, but there are a number of ways you can check the available product at your local market to make sure it’s fresh.

For whole fish, make sure the eyes are clear and bulging, and look for bright red gills and shiny flesh. Make sure individual filets aren’t dark or dry around the edges, and watch out for green or yellow discoloration. Make sure the product is not dry or mushy. Avoid any product that smells fishy and not mild. Check the packaging to make sure it’s not torn open or above the frost line. And for peak freshness, make sure the product is being kept on a thick bed of unmelted ice.

As for blue crabs and oysters, make sure you’re buying this product live! Both of these species will spoil very quickly, so make sure the crabs are still moving and the oyster shells are still closed.

Ask Your Seafood Dealer About the Product
Many seafood dealers will identify their product by country, or state if it’s domestic. But if the product is unlabeled, you know what to do: Always ask, never settle.

Some seafood markets even work with traceability programs that can pinpoint when and where the product was caught, but don’t get too hung up on those details. Location matters, of course, but how the fish was caught and handled has more of an effect on the freshness than how long it’s been out of the water. In fact, fresh-caught fish need 12-24 hours before they can be cooked and eaten because of stiff muscles due to rigor mortis. Additionally, some smaller fishing boats will be gone for a few days at a time, and they may flash-freeze their catches (which isn’t actually a bad thing in terms of freshness).

Properly Refrigerate and Freeze Your Product
Once you’ve determined that you’re buying fresh product at your local market, it’s up to you to properly store it at home until it’s time to cook and eat.If you’ve picked up Gulf fish and shrimp, you’ve got about a 48-hour window to keep them in your refrigerator before they start to lose freshness. At that point, you’ll need to store them properly and keep them in the freezer until you’re almost ready to cook. (For tips on storing and stocking Alabama Gulf Seafood, check out our six tips for freezing your product.)

Remember, your filets and your shrimp will need time to dethaw before you can cook ‘em. Thaw your product overnight in the fridge, or if you’re short on time, run your product in cold water. (Don’t leave your product out to thaw at room temperature.)

Properly Store Your Deep Sea Catches
If you’re catching your own seafood to cook and eat, we salute you. We would also recommend properly storing those catches so you can keep them fresh.

As soon as you reel in a species worth eating, make sure you immediately transfer it to a cooler packed with ice. And if you’re able to, store that cooler in the shade to keep the ice from melting, and drain the melted ice periodically so the texture of the fish isn’t affected. You’ll want to fillet and clean your catches sooner rather than later as well; in fact, if you’ve got a vacuum sealer, bring it with you and clean and pack them at the docks, then ice them down for the trip home. (For tips on proper maintenance, check out our tips for freezing your deep-sea catches.)

And remember, if you catch a fish in the morning, make sure you give it at least 12 hours before you cook it so the muscles can relax. It’ll be just as fresh tomorrow if you store it properly!

Cooking Game and Fish

Following the Recipe!

     I love to cook, especially things I have caught, killed or grown. Mama was a fantastic cook, making big meals every day on the farm for daddy, my brother and me and three or four farm workers.  She taught me to cook like her, country farm cooking, and used to laughingly say I needed to learn to cook since I would never find a woman to cook for me.   

She was wrong in that, Linda is a great cook, but she really does not like to, so I do most of the cooking at home.  We set that routine when, in our first year of marriage, Linda taught school while I finished my last year at UGA.  She got home late and I was home early every day, much less tired than her, so I did the cooking.   

I have cooked most anything I could catch or kill over the years.  While in college I shot a raccoon and cooked it for dinner.  I thought BBQed coon was good but Linda not so much.  The same for a beaver I cooked a few years ago. I will never do that again, not because it did not taste good to me, but because it was the most difficult animal I have ever tried to skin.   

Gar taste good but are hard to clean, you start with tin snips.  Carp and shiners are ok if you like a mouth full of bones in every bite. I have at least ten ways to cook bass filets, from fried to nuked with picante sauce to baked with wine and cheese sauce, and like them all.   

I cook a lot of venison.  Each day I get recipes in email from Taste of Home magazine and try many of them.  Some are great and I cook them often, others are ok but either a lot of trouble or not a favorite. They are usually one hit wonders.   

In the past few weeks I have cooked Bobotie, a South African dish that has ground meat.  It falls into the second category in two ways, it is difficult to cook and has a flavor that is just ok. It is the sweet spices in it, tamarind and raisins, that remind me of the pigeon pie with cinnamon and raisins I had in Marrakech, Morocco.  Sweet meat is not that good to me.  

  Others in the first category include cabbage roll casserole, a simple way to make cabbage rolls if you do not like rolling the leaves.  It is a one dish meal, just add a little cornbread.  That is a great meal when camping – just heat a bowl of leftovers in the microwave.   

Asian noodle casserole is very simple, with ground meat, ramen noodles and a bag of broccoli stir fry veggies.  Another one dish meal.  Roast in the crockpot with ranch and au jus dressing is delicious and very simple.    

I use the crock pot a lot for everything from venison steak with peppers and onions or mushroom soup to venison stew meat with BBQ sauce.  It is a simple way to cook and keeps venison moist.

On fishing trips, most guys stay in motels and eat in restaurants, but I much prefer camping and grilling.  Venison is too dry to grill, so I always do chicken, steak and pork chops on the grill, and am usually done eating before the guys in the restaurant can get their order.

I never order steak when I do go out – I have not found one that taste as good as what I grill. I try to find fried scallops, my favorite, and I have never been able to cook them just right at home.

I’m hungry, I am going to cook something.

Salmon, Steelhead and Trout Smoking Tips

Salmon/Steelhead/Trout Smoking Tips from Yakima Baits
By Yakima Baits Pro Buzz Ramsey
from The Fishing Wire

Smoking fish tips

For over 20 years, I spent a month or more at a time chasing winter steelhead on the Oregon Coast, taking outdoor writers, fishing tackle buyers and industry VIP’s fishing. Since I worked for a fishing tackle company that made smokers designed for fish and game, I went out of my way to have fresh smoked fish available during our fishing adventures. The method that enabled me to fish friends and business associates each and every day and share fresh smoked fish too was the following:

I’d fillet my catch at the end of the day and place the best cuts for smoking (the bellies and collars) in my favorite liquid brine and refrigerate until the end of the next fishing day.

It’s then that I would remove the fillets from the brine, rinse well, let them air dry for an hour or two before sprinkling them with spices and placing in my smoker and letting the heating element burn two pans full of wood smoke during the evening hours (before bed).

Given that most of the smoking process, after the smoke from a couple pans of wood is applied, is just drying the fish to the right consistency, I’d just let the smoker run all night, while I slept, and unplug it shortly after the alarm rang the next early AM. It was then that I’d let the fillets cool before placing them in a paper bag with several layers of paper towels in the bottom.

Having fresh smoked fish in the drift boat while chasing fish each day was a big hit with everyone and especially those whose job it was to keep retail stores supplied with smokehouse products.

The home made brine that I mixed then and continue to use includes (remember to stir well):

1/4 cup non-iodized salt (iodized salt is bitter)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup apple juice
1 cup sugar (brown sugar works too)
1 to 1-1/2 quart water (depending on amount of fish)
Immerse fish fillets in the above solution, refrigerate overnight (longer is OK), rinse thoroughly in fresh water, pat dry with paper towels, place on smokehouse racks (skin side down helps prevents sticking), sprinkle with ground garlic, onion and black pepper (or other favorite spices), and add a final sprinkling of sugar and let air dry of an hour or more before placing in you smokehouse.

Smoke until done, depending on quantity and desired texture– 6 to 12 hours usually works depending on outside temperature and the heat generated by your smoker.

Ground Venison and Squash Skillet Stew

Ground Venison and Squash Skillet Stew

When I first found this recipe for Ground Venison and Squash Skillet Stew it did not sound good. But since I had a bumper crop of yellow squash from the garden, lots of bell peppers that year, and a good supply of ground venison in the freezer, I tried it, and love it.

I have been making it for years and have adjusted my recipe Try it, you should like it! Its easy and quick.

I usually start in skillet then remember to put it in a pot for easier stirring.


4 or 5 yellow squash
large bell pepper
two 14.5 weight chopped tomatoes with chili peppers
a pound or so ground meat
bacon drippings
Tablespoon salt
half teaspoon black pepper

Ground Venison and Squash Skillet Stew ingredients

Brown ground meat in bacon drippings. Add sliced squash, chopped bell peppers, cans of tomatoes, salt and pepper.
simmer for 45 minutes.

When Trash Fish Get Trendy

How Fisheries Managers Respond When Trash Fish Get Trendy

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2013 National Survey

By Chris Macaluso, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
from The Fishing Wire

Fisheries management can be influenced by the American appetite for (certain kinds of) seafood, which makes it even more important that the system works better for anglers

My brother Joey and I were weird, I guess. When we were kids, we loved to fish for sheepshead, which, at the time, were generally thought to be a “trash” fish and were despised by most Louisiana anglers.

Sheepshead are ugly by any objective standard. They have big, goofy buckteeth, gray and black skin, and a row of foreboding spikes along their dorsal fins. They’re also an absolute pain to clean. Some charter guides I knew when I was in my teens refused to even put them in the ice chest, for fear that they would wind up on the cleaning table along with the better speckled trout and redfish.

But I never agreed with sheepshead getting a bad rap. First of all, they fight like caged, rabid raccoons. And on our summer trips to Grand Isle or fall excursions to Cocodrie, the sheepshead aggressively ate a piece of shrimp or hermit crab on a jig head when the speckled trout wouldn’t cooperate, and they guaranteed that we had some fresh fish to go with our suppers of canned beans, and French bread.

Sure, you had to hack through some thick rib bones and tough scales to get a filet. But crabs are hard to clean, and I don’t know too many folks who consider boiled and steamed blue crabs to be “trash,” just because the meat is difficult to pick out.

Then, about 15 years ago, sheepshead started showing up on restaurant menus under the pseudonym “bay snapper.” Suddenly, a bunch of anglers who would never have kept an ugly, stubborn sheepshead were raving about how tasty their fish-of-the-day lunch special was.

Now, pretty much every restaurant in South Louisiana has sheepshead on the menu or as a fresh-fish special. I guess the cliché about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure applies.

I’m often struck by how frequently recreational and commercial fishermen are pitted against each other over a handful of “popular” fish because they taste good or they fight hard or simply because they are easy to catch. How many fish like sheepshead, once considered less desirable by both recreational and commercial fishermen, are out there? How can fishing for these species lessen the animosity that has been built over fish like red snapper?

I’m also dumbfounded, at times, by the argument that states are not as equipped to manage commercial fisheries as the federal government, especially when states have responded to the increased popularity of sheepshead with adapted management for both recreational and commercial harvest. And still we don’t fight over sheepshead at state commission meetings like we do over red snapper at the federally directed Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council.

State fisheries agencies generally do a good job of conservatively managing commercial and recreational fishing, which is one of the reasons the TRCP and many of its sportfishing partners support the Modern Fish Act—because it would increase the role that states play in federal management and data collection for recreational fishing.

CMac’s special recipe.
Cats, Carp, and Courtbouillon

Like sheepshead, there are other fish thought of as trash, simply by reputation. On a late-March trip to Grand Isle, my fishing buddies got to tie into a handful of gafftopsail catfish, another much-maligned, yet hard-tugging and good-eating saltwater predator. I kept the fish, despite some dirty looks, and I used the filets to make a catfish courtbouillon, a rich tomato-based stew my family ate on Good Friday.

Everyone said it was delicious. They had no idea they were eating trash, I guess.

Gafftops, unlike their cousins the hardhead catfish, aren’t bottom-dwelling scavengers. They strike lures as aggressively as redfish and speckled trout and fight every bit as hard. On a memorable day in late August a few years ago, several five-pound gafftops exploded on topwater plugs in the Grand Isle surf when I was aiming for specks. The surface boiled and my drag screamed as if a redfish or big trout had busted the bait. But when the fight was over, my friends looked in disgust at what was on the end of the line. Similar to the way sheepshead were looked at 30 years ago, some of my friends won’t even put a gafftop in the ice chest for fear of scorn at the cleaning table.

But the list of reformed trash fish is growing each year. Bonito were once only kept for cut bait and chum, but if the meat is taken care of, they are just as tasty as their blackfin tuna relatives. Even the dreaded invasive Asian carp is pretty tasty after being dredged in seasoned corn meal and dropped in hot grease. There are more than enough of them available for those who want to give them a taste.

Making the Most of Our Time on the Water

I’m not suggesting that I would give up on a good trout bite or a school of hungry redfish to chase down gafftops or throw chunks of hermit crabs at sheepshead. But, like many fishermen who have busy home- and work-lives, I like to catch something while I’m out there—I’m not going to turn down the opportunity to hook aggressive-striking, hard-pulling fish and keep a few of them for the grill or the fryer.

And I’m not suggesting that improving the management of popular species like red snapper or cobia is less important because there are other fish out there to catch. My point is that, too often, anglers fall into the trap of getting hung up on catching one fish or another, and it can lead to a less enjoyable time on the water if a particular season is closed or the target species doesn’t cooperate that day. It might be up to us to “dig in the trash” more often.

But as attitudes towards these fish evolve and change, it will be even more important that our system of federal fisheries management does not ignore recreational fishing—because restaurant trends will come and go, but the importance of predictable seasons to local outdoor recreation businesses will not.

Read more conservation news at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership here

Clam Chowder Recipe

Our Coast’s Food: The Best Clam Chowder
While turkey is the undisputed table champion on Thanksgiving, most of us who have spent our time around the water would not mind starting off the big meal with a bowl of clam chowder–here’s a look at a few of the ways this great coastal dish can be prepared, from Coastal Review Online.

by Liz Biro, Coastal Review
from The Fishing Wire

Down East clam chowder is always made with mostly clams. Photo: Vanda Lewis/North Carolina Sea Grant, from “Mariner’s Menu”
Most Americans would say that the United States has two clam chowders, the creamy New England-style and the tomato-based Manhattan kind. They know this in a large part due to the Campbell’s Soup company bringing both chowders to the masses. Who didn’t grow up with Mom pouring a can of clam chowder into a pot?

I would argue there are three types of clam chowder in America, the third and best being North Carolina’s own. Some people call it “Hatteras clam chowder,” others call it “Down East clam chowder,” but most locals just call it “clam chowder” because no matter where you’re from on the N.C. coast, it’s always made with mostly clams.

Agreeing on a clam chowder recipe is no small deal. In New England, where those other two chowders are from, cooks constantly quarrel over which recipe is correct. Milk- or cream-based New England-style with potatoes and onions might be thick or thin. Manhattan-style seasoned with garlic and often soup vegetables such as carrots, onions and celery has many variations. Long Islanders add milk or cream. Floridians include hot chilies. In New Jersey, cooks stir in light cream, creamed asparagus and celery powder.

It was all too much for one Maine legislator to take. In the mid-1900s, New England clam chowder devotee Rep. Cleveland Sleeper was so offended by Manhattan-style chowder that he kept drafting bills to make putting tomatoes in clam chowder a crime. Offenders would have been forced to dig a barrel of clams at high tide.

The issue was supposedly finally put to rest in the so-called “Maine chowder war of 1939.” It was a chef-to-chef battle, New England vs Manhattan. New England won, and Sleeper gloated. “If a clam could vote,” he said, “I would be elected president.”

Debate, however, never ended.

Maine Rep. Cleveland Sleeper believed that the tomatoes in Manhattan-style clam chowder polluted the stew. Photo: Wikipedia
Sleeper thought, as other Manhattan chowder haters still do, that tomatoes polluted the stew. So does milk or cream, as far as native coastal North Carolinians are concerned. They put nothing but clams, potatoes, onions and water in their clam chowder because they like chowder that tastes like fresh clams. What’s more accurate than that?

Food historians think the word “chowder” derives from the French word “chaudière,” meaning “boiler,” or a large iron cooking pot. When early French settlers landed in what are now Canada’s Maritimes, they found the region’s native Micmac peoples cooking clams in hollowed out tree trunks, Alan Davidson writes in “The Oxford Companion to Food” (Oxford University Press, 1999). Water was poured into the tree trunks and fire-heated stones were dropped into the water. When the French introduced their chaudière, it seems chowder was invented.

The word chowder, showed up in North America in the 1730s. Today, it means seafood stew, but it may have originally referred to any soup or stew cooked in a large pot to feed a crowd. Back then, there was no such thing as an “authentic” chowder recipe.

The oldest chowder formulas were water-based fish soups containing root vegetables, potatoes among them, Food Timeline has found. Wine, cider and spices added flavor and hard bread or crackers bulk. Nary an ounce of milk went into a recipe billed New England Chowder in the 1847 cookbook titled “The Frugal Housekeeper’s Kitchen Companion or Guide to Economical Cookery.”

Mid-1800s recipes suggested flour to give the chowders body. Around the same time, Rhode Island cooks were adding tomatoes, thanks to Portuguese immigrants introducing the state to their country’s seafood stews.

New England-style clam chowder includes milk or cream. Photo: Wikipedia
By the end of the century, New Englanders were leaving out wine, cider and spices in favor of onions, potatoes, salt pork and milk from the dairy cows that took well to the Northeast’s cooler climate.

Meantime, tomato-based chowder became known as Manhattan-style for no exact reason. In “The Book of Chowder” (Harvard Common Press, 1978) author Richard J. Hooker tells of famed New York restaurant Delmonico’s 1894 recipe for Chowder de Lucines made with pork, parsley, thyme, onions, potatoes, clams and tomatoes.

None of the debate mattered to working families living frugally along the North Carolina and other state coasts. They made clam chowder with what was available. The humble version favored in North Carolina also took hold in Delaware, where cooks added butter. Salt pork went into some North Carolina pots for seasoning. Cornmeal dumplings floated on top added the extra bulk men and women needed for the hard work of fishing, farming and tending homesteads.

Coastal North Carolina families still love that basic chowder. Many tourists visiting the state’s beaches wouldn’t think of a fried seafood dinner at a restaurant without a first course of Hatteras clam chowder. It never goes out of style, and it never comes in a can.

Down East Clam Chowder

¼ pound salt pork, sliced
1 quart coarsely chopped large chowder clams
1 quart water
½ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups diced white potatoes

In a large saucepan, fry pork over medium heat until crisp. Remove pork. Add clams, water, onion, salt, pepper and, if desired, chopped pork to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer slowly until clams are tender, about 1½ hours. Add potatoes and onions, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Source: Adapted from “Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas” (North Carolina Sea Grant, 2003)