After you catch ’em, how to cook ’em

Posted Dec. 03, 2010, at 10:09 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:20 p.m.

Editor’s Note: The Best of Bud is a compilation of some of the advice and recipes gathered by the late Ralph W. “Bud” Leavitt who retired as the Bangor Daily News executive sports editor and outdoor editor in the fall of 1988. He continued to write a weekly column for the paper until his death on Dec. 20, 1994. During his nearly half-century as the BDN’s outdoor columnist he penned more than 13,000 columns and one book, “Twelve Months in Maine.”

What to do with a mess of bass or white, yellow perch?

Every fisherman has his own secret on where they’re biting. Here’s a primer on how not to catch ’em but what to do after you catch ‘em.

When fish are removed from the water, unless they are cared for properly, they soon will spoil. Fish deteriorates far more rapidly than meat. Anglers would do well to keep this in mind whether they plan to prepare their catch for a campsite, picnic or home meal.

When fishing from a boat or on a brook, you should get into the habit of keeping your fish alive. And fresh. If a cord stringer is used, it should never be run through the gills, or the fish will be unable to breathe properly and soon will die. If possible, string it through the lower lip only. Fish should not be towed beside the boat. They oftentimes will drown.

Many fishermen prefer stringers made with safety-pin hooks as they are easier to use than cord stringers with a sharp, piercing end. The safety-hook stringers do not maim the fish as much as the regular stringers. With them it also is possible to remove one fish without disturbing the others.

There have been some complaints that the snaps occasionally allow a fish to escape. This can be prevented with a well-made stringer, one of good spring wire, with adequate tension. Partially straighten the hooks if they seem weak.

It is also recommended that you carry a heavy cord stringer, too, for your heavier fish.

Here’s one way to get the most from your catch in eating enjoyment, an excellent recipe in the preparation of smallmouth bass, striped sea bass, white and yellow perch:

A simple-to-fix baste sparked with prepared yellow mustard distinguishes what a friend of mine calls “Baskenhegan Bass.”

1 can pineapple chunks

1 envelope French’s spaghetti sauce mix

4 to 6 slices bacon

¼ cup of oil

2 pounds filleted smallmouth bass cut in 1-inch chunks

Drain syrup from pineapple, reserving ½ cup. Combine ½ cup of syrup drained from pineapple with oil and contents of seasoning mix. Alternate fish and pineapple chunks on 4 to 6 skewers, weaving bacon around them.

Brush with seasoning mixture. Grill over hot coals about 10 minutes, until tender, turning and brushing with seasoning mixture frequently.

Yield: Four to six servings.

I have never tried scallops, but several people brag of their “Mustard Grilled Scallops.” Those same people claim the baste does something for the scallop, which, I must confess, I find hard to believe.

A fresh Maine scallop hardly needs help.

Here’s another recipe for bass or perch using prepared mustard:

½ cup French’s mustard

1 teaspoon sugar

6 to 8 whole dressed perch bass

¼ cup oil

½ teaspoon salt bacon

Combine mustard, oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Wrap strips of bacon around fish and fasten with food picks. Brush with sauce, and grill 5 to 10 minutes, or until fish flakes easily when pierced with a fork. Serves 4 to 6 big appetites.

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