Into The Outdoors: August is Catfish Month

Well, here we are. It’s August. The cold, hard fact is that summer is on the wane. For students and teachers, it means that they will soon be back to the old, familiar grind. The very first signs of fall will soon appear. In many ways, it is just not a good month.

August is, however, often looked upon as catfish month. Although you can catch them at other times, they do seem to get a bit more active this month. Rather than focus on catching them, as we have often done in the past, let’s look a bit at eating them. A batch of fried catfish filets, combined with hushpuppies or French fries are pretty hard to beat. There are, however, some other options. One of these is smoking. Years ago, on a walleye fishing trip to Port Clinton, Ohio, some friends and I stopped at a smokehouse on the way home. We wound up buying some smoked bullheads, and they were delicious. The guy running the place told us how they were prepared.

The bullheads were whole. They were gutted, and the slime was washed off. They were then brined, complete with brown sugar, and smoked with hickory. He didn’t give us a time. He just said that they were done when they flaked easily. You just peeled the skin and ate them, watching for bones. He said that some people eat the heads, but we didn’t.

A little while after that, my late brother in law and I were fishing in the Allegheny at Clinton, downstream from Kittanning. We got into a huge mess of small catfish, and I was immediately taken with the idea of smoking them, in hopes of duplicating those from Ohio. It worked! We ate them until we were full. The leftovers, kept in the fridge, were equally good the next day. It’s funny, but I have smoked larger catfish and, although they were okay, they just were not as good as those little ones were.

I have seen videos on You Tube about barbecuing large catfish whole. They certainly looked good. If I am able to get a big one, I just might give it a try. In the video, the fish were gutted then cooked whole.

As I have stated many times before, I see absolutely nothing wrong with keeping legal fish to eat. A freezer with a bunch of filets in it is a great way to get into winter.

I read an interesting article recently about changing the name of carp to copi, in hopes of getting more people to eat them. This is directed mostly at the various invasive Asian carp that are destroying ecosystems and threatening the Great Lakes. It’s a noble idea, but there is a lot of doubt as to whether or not it will work. Some time ago, the effort was made to label freshwater drum, or sheepshead as Lake Erie silver bass. It seems to have failed. As an aside, however, I was once served a helping of drum without being first told what kind of fish it was. I thought it was tilapia, only to be told it was drum. I didn’t get the recipe, but I wish I had.

On another front yesterday, August first, was the first day to apply for unsold antlerless or “bonus” tags. The next round will be August fifteenth. On September twelfth, the licenses will be sold over the counter at County Treasurers’ Offices.

Summer is fading fast. Get out and enjoy what’s left of it.

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