Monday, May 16, 2011
(note: thanks to blogger for losing this post during your crash, forcing me to re-write it from scratch!) It's been about 100 days since waterfowl season closed. Turkey season ends next week and there is no chance I'll get to go, since it's mornings only in Maryland. The bass are spawning on their beds and not being cooperative with my usual catch-and-release efforts, so I thought I would actually pursue some panfish for food. With the exception of the too-infrequent saltwater bottom rig, I haven't bait fished in quite awhile. What I remembered is that:
1) It's really easy
2) It's not hard
3) You don't have a lot of control over what takes the bait, and
4) It's pretty much really easy
An opportunity for a light-tackle lunchbreak opened up and even with high winds, cloudy water, and bright sunny mid-day skies, I figured I would catch enough edible fish to more than fill my handy new Field & Stream brand creel bag. Let's just say there were some errors in my assumptions, but I headed out to Liberty Reservoir totally ignorant of that reality.
Don't worry. I caught fish. In fact, I caught well over 100 fish, probably over 150, which would be plenty to eat except that most of them were 4 inches long. The spots I was fishing (in the sun and wind, in the middle of the day) were absolutely overrun by tiny sunfish who were all too eager to snatch up my bait. Every cast during my outing resulted in a fish on the line. I eventually got mad and live-lined one with a sinker for catfish. Bastard. And it didn't work. No matter how deep I cast or how much weight I added, the little guys were extremely aggressive and almost always got the bait on the initial drop. I was beside myself - how was this happening?
I haven't cleaned a panfish (or really, any fish under about 16" long) for well over a decade, so I turned to the trusty internets. I quickly found the video "How to Fillet Your Panfish" by Muskie Matt of Regular Fishin' for Regular Guys. The work was easy and within a few (several) minutes, I had all little three fish filleted and vac-sealed together for future cooking.
Speaking of which, how should I cook them (I'm looking for more detail here than "FRYIN PAN!")?
All I know is that next time I go freshwater fishing for food (and/or with live bait), I will put some real effort into it, and get on the water early or stay late - as I would for artificial lure and catch/release fishing.