From a shore lunch to battered and fried: fish for dinner

With the popularity of social media these days, I get questions from people quite often with all kinds of fishing related questions. Some of the most common questions I get from people are “do you eat fish” and “how do you like to cook your fish?”
Over the years, while working at resorts around Lake of the Woods I probably cooked a few hundred shore lunches. The shore lunch is one of the trademarks of fishing in our region during the summer. Most fishing camps offer a shore lunch for their guests and for many, it’s the highlight of their trip.
During the open water season I focus a lot of my attention on bass fishing because I really enjoy competing in the tournaments we have across Sunset Country. I’m always exploring, looking for new areas to catch bass, trying new lures and practising my trade. I never keep bass, not because they are inedible, I just never keep them. I enjoy catching them to much.
Whenever I want to keep fish to eat, I usually drop a line for walleyes, perch or crappie. During the winter months I’ll mix in some whitefish or lake trout as well. Pike are fine to eat and have a good firm texture to their white flesh. They are more challenging to clean but after that, great eating. If you battered them and then fried them like you would a walleye, you would enjoy eating them.
I guided at Ash Rapids Lodge more than anywhere else growing up and we would usually fish in Shoal Lake where could not keep walleye for shore lunch so we always ate pike and I can promise you they are great eating. There are some good videos online for tips on how to clean and prepare them.
Everybody knows that walleyes are great to eat. Part of the reason is because they are so easy to clean. Minimal bones and while we certainly have plenty of trophy sized walleyes across the region, most of the walleyes we catch are a good eating size. They are also fairly easy to catch if you spend a little bit of time out there finding some good spots to fish during each season of the year.
While my wife and I were out ice fishing this past weekend we caught a nice whitefish which we kept. She had never eaten whitefish before but I told her she would be pleasantly surprised with it. After admiring the whitefish, which have a unique beauty, I showed her how to fillet it. They have a y-bone similar to a trout or pike so there is some extra work involved in preparing them.
When we got home we cooked up a couple of small walleyes along with the whitefish. We battered each fish the same and after we ate everything she actually said she liked the whitefish better. It has a very light texture and a nice taste, its good stuff. I understand why whitefish are one the most popular fish for commercial anglers.
When it comes to cooking fish, any way is good really. There are certainly some healthier options but I usually like to go for battering them and then frying them. If I’m doing a shore lunch I’ll cook the fish in oil but if I’m just making a few pieces for myself at home I’ll usually just cook the fish in butter. It’s a little bit slower but I like cooking in butter the best.
Usually my batter consists of flour, egg and then corn flake crumbs. Of course, there are plenty of other good batter options out there, like Panko crumbs, bread crumbs or the local favourite Killer Krumbs.
Last year I had some guests in my boat for a fishing trip and they told me that they had recently started switching out the egg in their batter for Franks Hot Sauce. Use the flour first, then dip the fillet in hot sauce, followed by the coating of your choice. We tried it and it became an instant hit. It’s fantastic. There is a bit of heat in each bite but not so much that you need to have a drink of water after. Something different to try the next time you make fish for dinner.