She jokes as usual, “Don’t come home without fish!” She should probably smile and say, “Don’t come home without Northern Pike”. I’ve made eight river trips already this year, encompassing four different rivers, and my fishing ability could be described as little to no fish to show for it, lately…not exactly fulfilling my wife’s wishes. However, as anyone who fishes knows, the action can turn on a dime. As luck would have it, I would be able to come home this time, as everything seemed to be in my favor.
I was fishing out of a canoe on a river in central Wisconsin – famous for its mosquitoes, ticks, twisted branches and very aggressive Northern. Up early just before the cool damp morning, and all the surrounds suggested that I finally got it right! River conditions were perfect and it was the right time of the year, before the weeds have choked the small sloughs from accepting my paddle into the green salad. I prefer a canoe and the stillness of sneaking up on a fish. Long casts with 8 pound test and a #5 Mepps spinner bait is how you’ll find me conducting my work most often.
Nearing the middle of the day, my frustration, backing up the theory that this was going to be another “cursed” year of fishing but not catching any fish, I made another long cast into a very weedy patch of Lilly pads. The surface of the water exploded and then was still. “Calm down and don’t get too crazy”, I told myself! Another cast just beyond the mess, another rush of water to the surface and the fight was on! I don’t know if he’s that hungry or just plain “mean”. Either way, my fishing rod is bent downward, and I’m trying to steer a good one away from the branches, weeds, and all those fingers underneath the water trying to get me to lose yet another fish. Of course, the heart is pounding and with the help of a very tough steel leader, I’ve got a nice 33” plus Northern banging around on the aluminum floor. Be careful with that set of teeth, I have been shredded before trying to beg back my treble hooks!
These fish will be more than just photos and muscle makers. Once I arrived home that evening with the catch and his twin brother, I took out my best fillet knives, checked to make sure the edges were sharp and prepared to sculpt a meal. I got to work, creating six strips of incredible white meat, which almost seems like the byproduct after the removal of all the Y bones. I make no bones about it, I love the taste of Northern Pike! I’ve always joked, that I’m serving snake tonight because it doesn’t resemble fish any longer. It doesn’t matter though, because once they are prepared and rolled in some seasoning, and dropped into some hot spitting oil, this is a treat that never gets old. I would challenge just about anybody’s Friday fish fry with this gourmet river meal, this is a treat served fresh and hot!
If the classic fish fry doesn’t tingle your taste buds, there are plenty of freshwater fish recipes from appetizers and starters, to salads, soups and stews, to full blown delicious entrees in Henry Sinkus’ cookbook of 100 Fast and Foolproof Freshwater Fish Recipes like these Grilled Pike Brew Bites!
– 2 lbs. boneless, skinless pike fillets
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
– 2 teaspoons of your favorite fish seasoning
– 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
– 1 cup beer
– melted butter
– lemon wedges
1.) Cut fillets into 1 inch strips crosswise. Thread several strips accordion style on to the skewers.
2.) Arrange skewers in a single layer in a baking dish.
3.) Combine remaining ingredients and pour over fish, turning skewers to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
4.) Spray your grill with non-stick cooking spray. Heat to medium-high.
5.) Arrange skewers on grill. Cover and cook 3-4 minutes, turn skewers and cook for a remaining 3-4 minutes or until fish is firm and begins to flake.
6.) Serve with melted butter and lemon.