Friday, February 8, 2013

Cooking with Jane By: Steve Evans

      It's bad enough that our precious fish stocks are being relentlessly snagged, snared, poached, pound-netted, polluted, pilfered and purloined into obscurity, oblivion, and mathematically inevitable non-existence (not to mention mutant reproductive ambiguity: just check out the state of the Smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna) but to add insult to injury I now frequently find at the grocery store whole fish on ice wasting away for days because no one is buying it. It is an unfortunate and inexcusable waste. Probably most consumers prefer their fish neatly trimmed into fillets, maybe you do too and that's fine, but you're missing out. Maybe you think whole fish is too much work, maybe you think it looks weird and you'd rather not have your dinner looking up at you while you eat it. Well I'm here to tell you that whole fish is not too much work, it's less wasteful and more delicious, and you are descended from a monkey so stop being squeamish and give it a chance!
      Here, Along with the help of my gorgeous assistant Jane I'm going to prepare an easy step-by-step recipe using two Largemouth Bass I caught in the northern Chesapeake Bay but which you can adapt to any whole fish you catch yourself or that you'd be likely to find at the supermarket.

salt and pepa
one bowl of  fresh tomatoes, onions
and whole garlic cloves
Two whole fish gutted and scaled           
1 stick of butter
olive oyl
-I'm gonna set the broiler on high so it's hot when the fish is ready to go in.
-Let's begin by coating the fish inside and out with a little oil (I like to use my hands for this)
-Rub salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice inside and outside of the fish
-Next cut the butter into pats and insert into the fish along the spine (I will use about a half a stick, it's up to you but I say the more butter the better)
-Now we're gonna fill that fish up with all the fresh tomato and onion stuffing (You can pretty much use any veggies you want for this. What we're using here is just what happened to be fresh and available)
-Wrap that fish up in foil. Finally these little buggers are ready for the oven!
-Put the fish in the broiler and cook it for about 20 minutes turning it once after 10 minutes. (this could take more or less time depending on the size of the fish so keep an eye on it, open up the foil and check it with a fork if needed, the meat will flake off when it's ready)
When the fish looks like this it's done.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Have you ever been to electricladyland? by: Steve Evans

     Alexi and I went out for drinks the other night and the topics of conversation ran the gamut from politics and economics, to family stories, to ideas about personal health and well being to questions about what sort of work Jimi Hendrix would be involved in today if he had not died of that unfortunate drug overdose in 1970.
     Point is: fishing made up only about less than ten percent of the overall conversation. I think we talked a bit about gear and the coastal kayak trip we're planning sometime this spring, some guys on the forums are talking about small bass being caught north of our usual waters... whatever. Essentially we are dealing with the same general malaise that our readers are probably feeling as well and as I write this the winter is getting colder yet.
     The problem in writing our blog during these cold and listless months is obvious: what the hell do we write! another recent conversation with Alexi had us thinking that the blog has been perhaps too wholesome and family friendly (despite the occasional reference to beer, which is actually a fictional hiccup inducing drink invented by the Disney animated movie sleeping beauty). Worry not fair readers! I have no plans of dragging fishing in the dark through the dregs of crass language, low brow bathroom humor and pornographic muck (despite the "Wilderness Secrets: outdoor bathroom tips from the pros" segment I was considering).  Still I've been at a bit of a loss.
     Luckily I found some good material this past weekend on a trip to Hamburg Pennsylvania's rod, gun, taxidermy and camouflage lover's mecca: Cabela's. For one thing the magnetism of the Cabela's brand is enormous and draws a unique and enthusiastic clientele from far and wide to massive retail stores that boast a shopping experience which is like a theme park, a natural history museum, an old country buffet, and a redneck IKEA all rolled into one. Not only that but this place is stocked wall to wall with the kind of gear that would make it the ideal fallout shelter for any kind of apocalyptic catastrophe. Oh yeah, they have fishing gear too and lots of it, and this was my main reason for making the pilgrimage.
      I went to Cabela's to purchase a new rod and reel. I was reasonably certain about what I wanted before I arrived, but standing before the dizzying multitude of rods and reels I was paralysed  in a kaleidoscopic whirlpool of options. Battling this catatonic state of confusion turned out to be quite useful however because it forced me to ask questions about what I was going to do with this thing when I get it out on the water and the answers helped me reaffirm my personal goals and intentions.
      I want to catch bigger fish and I want to learn more live bait tactics for striped bass, flounder, bluefish and weakfish so I'm looking for an outfit that's a fit for that, which means something on the heavier side, but not so heavy that it's not also a fitting setup for casting bucktails and rubber swim baits. For what we do I'm looking for a reel to be equally useful from the kayak, the jetty, and the beach. Rods for the most part are not as versatile since for instance: you need the long ones to cast over the waves and into the wind and those are mostly just too awkward in a boat (especially a tiny plastic one). So I wound up picking up a Shimano Calcutta400B reel (this thing is simple, strong and versatile) and a 9ft Lamiglass Classic Glass (the rod was a little bit of a gamble, I'm already thinking it's a little light, still I think it's gonna be good for some very specific situations). Anyway, it's a personal decision. What I left with will be, I hope, the right tool to confront the specific fish and fishing situations I am after. The important thing is this: the more I thought about what I really wanted from this piece of equipment the more my intentions came into focus. Getting the picture?
     Progress in fishing and consequently fishing tackle is about specificity. If you go surf fishing with two rods, a bag of lures, and a bag of bait (as I once did) you already have your work cut out for you. An angler's gear should be tailored to that angler's goals and preferences. Being deliberate about equipment is part of being deliberate about the sport of fishing. We figure it out as we go, we keep the things that work and we toss the things that don't. The purpose is not to be forever accumulating truckloads of equipment but to do what the laboratory scientist does: limit the variables. Doing this allows a fisherman to track success and failure more effectively and will also probably highlight certain preferences that will shape future tackle decisions. I'd be willing to bet all my tackle that any angler that goes out on the water with a specific plan and only the tackle necessary to see it through is not only more successful but also learns more in the long run than someone who goes out with a bunch of unnecessary baggage to take a bunch of half-assed stabs at a handful of half-baked plans.