Tilapia (and reminiscing about my bygone days of fishing)

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I have been fishing only two or three times in the past ten years, but for me, growing up out west with a father who worked for the US Forest Service, fishing was an inevitable pastime. We were not real fishermen. It was never approached with the intense seriousness you find in some fishing enthusiasts, the kind of intensity that is matched only by those who devote most of their thoughts to golf. Fishing for my family was one of many activities that were part of the camping "package," such as hiking, roasting marshmallows, playing capture-the-flag, and yelling at each other.

One fishing trip stands out in my mind, as much for its epicurean aspects as for the fact that recalling it makes me feel cool, rugged, and authentically western, despite the fact that I have been on the East coast for over 10 years now and only occasionally make it out of the city.
I was about fifteen years old, and I idolized the neighbor across the street. He was a Mormon, like all the other adults I knew, but he was different. He was a professor of English literature, he raised huskies, went bow hunting, listened to Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull, and, best of all, occasionally swore in church. One winter he took me and a couple friends ice fishing on Utah Lake. Dressed for warmth, poles in hand, we waited as he hefted the augre out into the middle of the lake and drilled a hole the size of a dinner plate. We gathered around the hole and before long began popping small white bass out of the freezing water.

At one point he reached into his large pack, and, asking if we were hungry, removed a Coleman stove. We thought he was going to fry the bass, but watched as he removed a large ziploc bag filled with peppered venison, butchered from a buck he personally had felled with his compound bow earlier that winter. It was delicious. After filling up on venison and thermoses (thermosi?) of hot cider, we resumed the bass-a-thon, catching our limit within a couple hours. I'm afraid to say I don't remember eating the white bass, it was the venison that imprinted itself in the flavor zones of my brain. I definitely recall with a heavy dose of nostalgia how good it felt to be out on the ice that day, doing something that humans in colder climates have done for thousands and thousands of years.

Pardon that little reverie. You were wondering about the tilapia?

It turned out quite well. I made a marinade of cilantro, garlic, chiles, lime juice, and vegetable oil, which I slathered on both sides of the whole fish. The two fishes were then baked at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, and served with mashed yucca (with salt & butter) and some cuban-style black beans, which were cooked with bacon, onions, garlic, chili pepper, and chicken stock. All of it enjoyed with a nice Tetley's Cream Ale. So good.


Eric said...

If you move to Minnesota, you will have plenty of opportunity to ice fish next winter.

But, may I recommend that you target the walleye and crappies instead of our bass population.

megwoo said...

What a great venison story! I love venison. I also love tilapia. Your fish looks beautiful!

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Quit Smoking said...

Hello fellow fisherman,

Did you know that 16% of the U.S. population goes fishing at least 16 days a year?

Did you also know that over 75% of the nations fishermen do not fish during "prime time"; fish feeding hours?

Those precious few moments before twilight can be absolutely magical. Even up until 11pm at night, the largest predators of any species feed ravenously.

Don't believe me? Check out Daniel Eggertsen's story, and a picture of a couple of his catches here : "Evening Secrets plus more"

I want you to do me a favor and try it out so I can see what you think of it, and if it works for you as well as it did for me.

You will be one of the first to try it out.

Gone Fishin',