Updated: Apr 19, 2020
Surprise! Trout season came in early. I really and truly thought that it would be delayed. Of course, the Fish and Boat Commission found themselves in a difficult position. They stocked extra trout, which was a good thing. Many of those were stocked in areas where they would most likely not survive warm weather. The early opening was done, probably so that the crowds of the traditional Saturday opener could be avoided. I don’t know if this was successful or not. While they wisely asked anglers to maintain social distancing, I saw some photos that indicated that not everyone was compliant. In my own case, I have yet to go out. You’re supposed to fish with family members only, and my son works through the week. That leaves only weekends, when things are the most crowded. I guess I’ll just have to play it by ear for awhile. Besides, I have already been given some fresh trout. When you come right down to it, if I had to pick a favorite way to eat fresh trout, it would be, I think, for breakfast. There’s just nothing else quite like trout filets, with the skin left on, alongside a couple of sunny side eggs and home fries. Top it all off with toast, and you have a breakfast fit for a king. For this, I like the filets coated in flour and skillet fried. Trout are also good when fried whole, with, of course, the entrails removed. Here, you have the option of leaving the heads on or cutting them off. I usually remove them, as that’s just the way my dad taught me to do. Flavor wise, it doesn’t really matter at all. Deep frying is my preferred method of preparing trout this way, although I often cook them in an electric skillet. Often, you can remove most of the bones with one pull. Some always seem to get left in the fish, though, so you still have to pick through them. Personally, I hate doing that, so I nearly always filet my catch. When it comes to fish for smoking, trout are really hard to beat. There are so many pre-smoker brining solutions out there that I couldn’t begin to cover them all. The biggest hazard lies in getting the fire too hot. Low and slow are the keys here. If your fire is too hot, the end product will have the texture and, possibly the taste, of last year’s sneakers. When I smoke trout, I like to leave the bones in a few of them, while filleting the majority. For some reason, I sort of enjoy picking through the bones in smoked fish. Also, whole fish are much less likely to dry out than filets. Although I’ve never tried it, I’ve read that you can make something similar to ham salad with smoked trout. You just follow the ham salad recipe, but substitute the smoked trout for the ham. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to give that a try this year. If I do, I’ll let you know how it turns out. I had every intention of trying this one last year, but it just didn’t happen. Maybe 2020 is the year. All of this, of course, raises the issue of catch and release fishing. Due in large part, I think to television fishing shows, some anglers have a genuine aversion to keeping and eating trout. While I certainly see nothing wrong with catch and release, I also see nothing wrong with catch and eat. I have to say that I really wonder how many stocked trout actually winter over in local streams. Put and take fishing seems to lend itself well to enjoying some great meals. At a time like this, we are all deprived of things we’d like to do. We just have to hang in there. Stay healthy. I need all of my readers.