Until last weekend, in my 55 years on this planet, I had never eaten something that I caught or killed. Last Friday, that all changed.
As I mentioned yesterday, thanks to the excellent guide work of Woody Becker, our little party found an area where the fish were biting. I caught a plump small mouth bass that, according to my much more experienced companions, probably weighed between 3 and 4 pounds. It fought like crazy as I reeled him in, bending my fishing rod almost to the breaking point, and after Woody netted it and we dropped it in the tub it continued to flop and thrash. At the time, it was exciting.
When we later returned to our dock, and one of our party prepared to fillet the fish, I began to feel uneasy. The fish stared at us, wide-eyed, and its gills continued to flutter. My friend the Brown Bear loves to fish because he likes the challenge, but he’s a catch-and-release man. Perhaps I should let the fish go?
The temptation to at least try eating something that I had caught and killed, however, overcame my reservations. My friend expertly filleted the fish and tossed the remains into the harbor, where it would serve as sustenance for other aquatic parts of the food chain. I felt guilty, but remembered that I had caught the bass only because it couldn’t resist gobbling up the live minnow that I was using as bait. The fish clearly understood the circle of life and the notion of survival of the fittest — or so I rationalized.
We prepared the fish fillets in simple fashion, by dunking them in corn meal and then dropping them in a skillet where hot oil popped and snapped. After a few minutes the fish fillets were ready, and they were astonishingly good — the flesh firm, light and mild, absolutely fresh, with no oily or fishy taste. It was, quite simply, the best fish I’ve ever eaten. I’d do it again.