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Best eating, worst eating fish

June 11, 2007
Best eating, worst eating fish - 19

The whole business of butchering and eating dolphin (see my previous post—“Massacre”) lead some friends and me into discussion about taking and eating legit gamefish in general.

Best_eating_fish
Look, everybody knows catch-and-release is a necessary fact of life today but it doesn’t preclude the thoughtful (and legal) taking of specific fish from environments that can tolerate careful harvest. Unfortunately, catch-release is elevated to near religious fanaticism among some folks. The advent of release tournament fishing, for instance, has caused a generation of anglers to gasp in horror over the taking of a large or smallmouth bass to eat (interesting that not so many walleye anglers feel that way). And recently out West, one of this country’s finest conservationists, fishing educator, angler and tackle shop owner who kept his trophy-of-a-lifetime brown trout, was treated in some circles to bodily threats, boycotts, and some of the ugliest comments I’ve seen.

Which brings us back to the joy of noshing on a fish-based dinner, and the best candidates for supplying the raw ingredients. This is tough. The only way I can narrow down my favorite eating (and worst eating) fish is to limit the selection first to freshwater species. I’ll get to saltwater fish later. Anyway, here are my choices for the six best and worst eating fish.

BEST

Small Brook Trout from wilderness water, gutted and grilled whole over a low campfire and eaten—skin and all—like cob corn.

Yellow Perch taken through the ice or from really cold water. Behead them, skin them, cut away the lower rib bones with a knife, the sauté or fry.

Wild Salmon (Pacific or Atlantic), preferably brushed with olive oil and grilled over a smoky alderwood fire. Larger, stronger flavored fish are great marinated in equal parts soy sauce, brown sugar and your favorite hooch, then grilled on the barbie.

Walleye in any of a dozen ways, broiled, fried, sautéed. Their lack of distinctive strong flavor lets you go wild with recipes and sauces.

Catfish, preferably smaller channel cats from a clean river. Always deep fried.

Crappie, fried or sautéed, depending on size.

WORST

Bowfin (a.k.a mudfish or grindle). A long time back somebody served me a piece of one as a cruel joke. Gag.

Carp. Unless its smoked and from northern waters.

Sturgeon. Even smoked these things are like rubber. Especially larger ones. Give me their eggs.

Suckers. Flesh is questionable for my taste, and there are way too many bones.

Shad (American). Flesh is sweet but the rats nest of bones makes it hardly worthwhile.

Hatchery trout from marginal put-and-take water. Otherwise I love trout.

OK, anybody have candidates for either of these lists?

Comments (19)

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from JP wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Bluegills from a good clean lake...deep fried...like eating popcorn...hard to beat!

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from JP wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Bluegills from a good clean lake...deep fried...like eating popcorn...hard to beat!

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from Double-D wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

I'd have to agree with the bluegill comment, particularly if they're caught through the ice. It's also hard to beat halibut, grilled or fried.

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from alabamahunter wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

I've found that I like deep fried bass more than catfish or panfish. The bass need to be less than a pound though. Fresh grilled redfish fillets are hard to beat if you want to get into saltwater fish. Although I rarely ever keep bass, sometimes when I fish a pond that I know is clean I may keep a few for the deep fryer.

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from outdoor jester wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Grilled salmon, halibut, redfish...love 'em deep fried, grilled or blackened! I like trout too, but the damn bones are a pain in the ass so I don't eat it any more (yeah, I know how to "remove" them by pulling the spine, but there's still a ton in there!).Catfish fried is good too, if the meat is nice and firm.The whole catch and release thing ticks me off sometimes. I release most fish, but the holier than thou attitude some people have if you come in with a perfectly legal stringer of bass is insane! It's legal! If I/someone wants to bring them home, and it's legal, the holy-releasers should shut the hell up! Heck, in some places (Lake Fork for example), overcrowding is beginning to occur and the forage species are having trouble supporting some of the fisheries/age classes of bass.

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from Jerry Gibbs wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Mmmm, maybe I should have included bluegills instead of crappie. ALL those panfish can be super if, as noted, they're from good water, as are the small bass. And yes, as Outdoor Jester says, there can be an awful lot of that "holier than thou" attitude these days, about a lot of things. The trout angler I mentioned at the top, is a good example. People were boycotting his shop, threatening to slash his tires. Too much.

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from Kris wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

I would say that crappie are the best fried, a close second would be bluegills and then catfish. I think the catch and release has gotten out of hand somewhat. Some state wildlife departments are recommending that smaller largemouths be harvested instead of released due to over population. Is there anything wrong with an angler harvesting a large bass every now and then to have it mounted instead of having a replica made? Deer are not released and we have more deer than ever before. In fact there seems to be a trend in which alot of hunters are actually harvesting less deer (allowing doe and smaller bucks to walk) holding out for the larger bucks.

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from alabamahunter wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

I've witnessed people eat carp. It's not pretty.

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from outdoor jester wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

I've know some BASS pros who eat bass! Wonder what would happen if that was printed somewhere!As for deer... they're almost becoming vermin in some parts of the country. The problem isn't letting little bucks walk, it's not harvesting does that is the problem. One buck can breed many does, but if the population is in balance than the young ones don't get to breed because the dominant ones keep them away. With more does the young ones can sneak in there becuase there are too many for the bruiser to defend. Plus, you kill one doe and you've eliminated two mouths to feed over the winter (doe and fawn); you kill one small buck and you've still only taken one mouth out of the equation.

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from Trent M. wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Glad to see you have admitted to missing bluegill, that was quite the mistake..hahaas a whole they tend to be more firm than crappie, crappie are great, but when the water heats up, they get mushy in a hurry, gills are more firm, more often, and therefore, more often the better of the two to eat...

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from Double-D wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Boil some through-the-ice bluegill fillets in beer, drain and then mix with cocktail sauce (w/extra horseradish) and you'll give up shrimp cocktail forever.What about a walleye deep fried in lard and bacon grease on the shore of Canadian lake, without another soul around for miles?Dang, I'm hungry!DD

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from LD in SC wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

I keep what I can use, release the rest - into hot grease!

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from big d in ca. wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

well im not afraid to go saltwater what about deep fried ling cod and red snapper as far as catch and release why not keep a couple for the skillet

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from Jerry Gibbs wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Somebody once said to me "fish are meant to be fried!" Despite all the screaming and whining about how we don't eat healthfully these days, I see that most of you like FRIED FISH! Good. So do I.

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from BRIAN KLINGER wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

STRIPER FROM LAKE TEXOMA BLACKENED FRIED OR BROILED IT IS ALL GOOD

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from outdoor jester wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Mmmmm...texoma stripers! have had those before..right after catchign them took them up to this little gas station/restaurant thing just off the lake and the little hottie who owns the place fried them up for me and the guide.did everyone vote on that poll on the best eating fish on the front of OL.com? c'mon, nobody here likes salmon????? salmon is incredible!

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from Zermoid wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Freshwater, Slab sized Sunfish, Crappies and Catfish all tie for First!Saltwater, Fluke, Eels (larger the better) and Puffers (not the poisonous Japanese version)For some reason freshwater eels aren't as good as Saltwater ones, no clue why as (as far as I know) they are both the same species in the eastern US.

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from Jerry Gibbs wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Eels can be great! I think my favorite is sushi style. They call it unagi, I think.

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from trapper wrote 6 years 43 weeks ago

rainbow trout fried in salt pork mmmgood

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from trapper wrote 6 years 43 weeks ago

rainbow trout fried in salt pork mmmgood

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from Jerry Gibbs wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Eels can be great! I think my favorite is sushi style. They call it unagi, I think.

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from Zermoid wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Freshwater, Slab sized Sunfish, Crappies and Catfish all tie for First!Saltwater, Fluke, Eels (larger the better) and Puffers (not the poisonous Japanese version)For some reason freshwater eels aren't as good as Saltwater ones, no clue why as (as far as I know) they are both the same species in the eastern US.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from outdoor jester wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Mmmmm...texoma stripers! have had those before..right after catchign them took them up to this little gas station/restaurant thing just off the lake and the little hottie who owns the place fried them up for me and the guide.did everyone vote on that poll on the best eating fish on the front of OL.com? c'mon, nobody here likes salmon????? salmon is incredible!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BRIAN KLINGER wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

STRIPER FROM LAKE TEXOMA BLACKENED FRIED OR BROILED IT IS ALL GOOD

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry Gibbs wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Somebody once said to me "fish are meant to be fried!" Despite all the screaming and whining about how we don't eat healthfully these days, I see that most of you like FRIED FISH! Good. So do I.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from big d in ca. wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

well im not afraid to go saltwater what about deep fried ling cod and red snapper as far as catch and release why not keep a couple for the skillet

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from LD in SC wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

I keep what I can use, release the rest - into hot grease!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Double-D wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Boil some through-the-ice bluegill fillets in beer, drain and then mix with cocktail sauce (w/extra horseradish) and you'll give up shrimp cocktail forever.What about a walleye deep fried in lard and bacon grease on the shore of Canadian lake, without another soul around for miles?Dang, I'm hungry!DD

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Trent M. wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Glad to see you have admitted to missing bluegill, that was quite the mistake..hahaas a whole they tend to be more firm than crappie, crappie are great, but when the water heats up, they get mushy in a hurry, gills are more firm, more often, and therefore, more often the better of the two to eat...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from outdoor jester wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

I've know some BASS pros who eat bass! Wonder what would happen if that was printed somewhere!As for deer... they're almost becoming vermin in some parts of the country. The problem isn't letting little bucks walk, it's not harvesting does that is the problem. One buck can breed many does, but if the population is in balance than the young ones don't get to breed because the dominant ones keep them away. With more does the young ones can sneak in there becuase there are too many for the bruiser to defend. Plus, you kill one doe and you've eliminated two mouths to feed over the winter (doe and fawn); you kill one small buck and you've still only taken one mouth out of the equation.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from alabamahunter wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

I've witnessed people eat carp. It's not pretty.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kris wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

I would say that crappie are the best fried, a close second would be bluegills and then catfish. I think the catch and release has gotten out of hand somewhat. Some state wildlife departments are recommending that smaller largemouths be harvested instead of released due to over population. Is there anything wrong with an angler harvesting a large bass every now and then to have it mounted instead of having a replica made? Deer are not released and we have more deer than ever before. In fact there seems to be a trend in which alot of hunters are actually harvesting less deer (allowing doe and smaller bucks to walk) holding out for the larger bucks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry Gibbs wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Mmmm, maybe I should have included bluegills instead of crappie. ALL those panfish can be super if, as noted, they're from good water, as are the small bass. And yes, as Outdoor Jester says, there can be an awful lot of that "holier than thou" attitude these days, about a lot of things. The trout angler I mentioned at the top, is a good example. People were boycotting his shop, threatening to slash his tires. Too much.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from outdoor jester wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Grilled salmon, halibut, redfish...love 'em deep fried, grilled or blackened! I like trout too, but the damn bones are a pain in the ass so I don't eat it any more (yeah, I know how to "remove" them by pulling the spine, but there's still a ton in there!).Catfish fried is good too, if the meat is nice and firm.The whole catch and release thing ticks me off sometimes. I release most fish, but the holier than thou attitude some people have if you come in with a perfectly legal stringer of bass is insane! It's legal! If I/someone wants to bring them home, and it's legal, the holy-releasers should shut the hell up! Heck, in some places (Lake Fork for example), overcrowding is beginning to occur and the forage species are having trouble supporting some of the fisheries/age classes of bass.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from alabamahunter wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

I've found that I like deep fried bass more than catfish or panfish. The bass need to be less than a pound though. Fresh grilled redfish fillets are hard to beat if you want to get into saltwater fish. Although I rarely ever keep bass, sometimes when I fish a pond that I know is clean I may keep a few for the deep fryer.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Double-D wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

I'd have to agree with the bluegill comment, particularly if they're caught through the ice. It's also hard to beat halibut, grilled or fried.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JP wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Bluegills from a good clean lake...deep fried...like eating popcorn...hard to beat!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JP wrote 6 years 44 weeks ago

Bluegills from a good clean lake...deep fried...like eating popcorn...hard to beat!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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