Saturday, July 23, 2011

Smalliopolis: #25 Smallmouth Bass

The quest went to the Merrimack River is search of new fish, such as carp, walleye, redbreast sunfish.   When we arrived at the river we spooked several fish from the shallow pools that were lit by the morning sun. They were smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) and the place was loaded with them. 

Perfect habitat for smallmouth in this stretch of Merrimack River. Rocks, current, and pools. 

We were not the only ones who thought so. 
We could see that most of the smallmouth were small fish, eager to jump on anything that swam through the water. The challenge would be to have the first one be big enough to fillet (one of our quest rules is that we must keep and eat the first legal specimen caught).  Since we usually microfish, we don't carry too many big lures, but we did the best we could with a shiny 3.5" Bagley Bomber. After about a half dozen casts we hooked up. Not a big one, but big enough. (at least it would not have too much mercury).
The Lure, 3.5 inches

The fish, 11 inches

Dave has caught bigger ones
We filleted the fish that night and placed it in the freezer for future preparation. Any suggestions on a recipe?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Name Is Ishmael: #24 Round Whitefish

When we started this quest we felt pretty confident that we could catch all of the fish in New Hampshire. All it would take is a little research. Well as we started to investigate all of the fish on NH Fish and Game's list of freshwater fish we became less sure of ourselves.

By far the fish that scared us the most was the round whitefish, Prosopium cylindraceum.  Just teetering on the brink of being listed as endangered in the state, this fish is only found in two place in New Hampshire:  Newfound Lake and the upper Connecticutt River. But a quest is an obsessive thing and we were determined to go to great lengths to catch our great white whale, uh. . , whitefish. So to Colbrook, NH we went (a 3.5 hour drive away) to where we heard rumors that whitefish lurk in the cool clear pools. 

Colebrook is a welcoming community

It was a beautiful sunny day with people enjoying the river that is shared by VT and NH. 

These three guys were headed out on a five day float down the Connecticut River. They had no idea where they would camp or end up. 

A nice looking pool in Colebrook

Since we had heard that whitefish have very small mouths, we chose a simple #28 hook with a piece of worm threaded on it and just a bit of weight. We caught a few yet unidentified minnows, a young pumpkinseed, and a pesky 12 inch rainbow trout. 
Do you know what kind of minnow this is?
While dropping this tiny morsel in around the rocks a fish cruised by that we thought was a trout, but it had a slow swagger that seemed a bit odd. Then it started feeding on the side of a big rock like we have seen fallfish do. On a lark, we swung the baited hook over the rock and let it drift out of sight on the other side. Tension! Hook Set! WHITEFISH!!!!!  Never was a battle so nerve wracking, knowing this could be the only sighting of this rare fish. After a careful fight, the fish was beached on a sandy patch and wrestled on shore. We had our whitefish!

Our Great Round Whitefish

One of the most beautiful fish in NH

Small mouth for a large fish.

The snout is perfectly shaped for fitting in to rock crannies and sucking out insect larvae Check out the dark margins on the scales.

13.5" of pure greatness
We always feel bad when we kill fish, so we really want to do this fish justice on the dinner plate. When we cleaned it we got a faint sent of cucumbers like smelt have. It was more subtle but it was there. Also we notice that it was a female. Too bad since the population can use all the little whitefish it can get. Apparently, there are a good number of round whitefish in this stretch of the river and locals call them chubs. Fishing restrictions probably won't do much since these fish are rarely targeted, but hopefully land protection and some runoff control can ensure these fish a long existence in that river.

She was a female with eggs.

Stay tuned for the whitefish recipe. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blackened Black Bass!

After catching our Large Mouth we decided we had to to this regal fish justice so we came up with this recipe for Blackened Black Bass, one of our top meals for the project so far.

This recipe takes almost no skill and will yield yummy results!

2 bass fillets
2 tbs Cooking oil or butter
Peppery meat rub (almost any meat rub will work)
Salt and Pepper

Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet until it's very hot.

While the oil is heating, sprinkle the bass with salt and pepper.

Next rub the meat rub into the bass fillets, be sure to do both sides. Now that the oil is hot, drop the fillets into the hot oil.

The fish will cook very fast, be careful to blacken it but not burn it. Turn the fish and do the same on the other side. Serve hot with beer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

We opened our big mouth and caught Fish Number 23, Largemouth Bass

We headed down to the Taylor River to fish for Largemouth Bass! Fish number 23...

The adventure started with a different watershed, the headwaters of the Winnicutt River to catch bait.

We went looking for golden shiners in a little pool on the side of the road. Microfishing is the key using 2 - 4lb line, size 20 hooks and bits of worm. In a short time we had four, more than enough!

Then it was on to the Taylor River, which is impounded between Hampton and Hampton Falls. This weedy area was considered by the state to be restored to a tidal river about a year ago. The shoreline residents pushed back on the proposed dam removal and the project was stopped. It would have been better for the environment and migratory fish if the dam were removed, but in a selfish way we are glad the freshwater stayed because it grows some nice largemouths.

A happy Clay with fish #23. 

Clay compares mouth size.

We fished from a little bridge on the Taylor floating live shiners under a bobber, in a very short time Clay had his first fish on. A nice 1.5lb largemouth. Not a lunker but considering we have to eat this thing it was big enough.
Dave does his best pirate impression - really not that good. 

A few minutes later Dave followed by catching and releasing a nice 3lb Largemouth. (Stay Tuned for a video)

We ate the bass right away making a recipe called, Blackened Black Bass, stay tuned for the culinary report.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lake Chub Chowder!

We wanted to get more creative with our cooking so we invented this new dish.
Lake Chub Chowder. Here is how to make it.

1 Lake Chub, 2.5 inches long
1 baby carrot
a little bit of celery
Sweet Corn

Heat a small cast iron skillet and melt a little butter in it. Chop the carrots and celery and saute' them in the butter until they are tender and remove from the heat.

 Allow the pan to cool.
 Now heat the pan to medium and melt a couple table spoons of butter, add the carrots and celery.

Chop the chub in half heads and tails, and drop them into the butter. Let that cool for a minute.

 Pour in half a cup of milk and a handful of sweet corn. Cook on med/low until the milk is reduced by about half DO NOT ALLOW THE MILK TO BOIL Serve hot.

This makes almost one serving and is hands down the best fish we've eaten on this quest.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

How to cook a Sea Lamprey!

We made our first webisode, let us know what you think!
Is webisode a word?