Blackened Pike for Lunch

Every time we sit down to eat fresh fish or game, I’m reminded how amazing everything we get when we go fishing or hunting tastes. Today for lunch, Jill and I had blackened northern pike cooked on a cast iron skillet in the garage.

It tastes so good it makes me feel like going fishing again right now to catch a couple more for tomorrow. Last week, while riding with Kolt Ringer of Foley Belsaw Outdoors, on the way down to Branson for the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) conference, we were talking about the trends that have come and gone when it comes to keeping and eating fish. I remember well that you kept whatever fish you wanted, when I was a kid. Then along came an enlightened period when we realized “the catches are not endless,” in the words of angling legend Ron Lindner, and we all started talking about catch and release.

The ‘release camp’ got so enthusiastic about the cause that some of us had to start keeping quiet about still keeping fish to eat. I remember being happy when Ron and Al Lindner and the In-Fisherman staff coined the term ‘Selective Harvest,’ a concept that proposed we can keep certain size fish without worrying about the populations as a whole, but that we should be releasing the prime spawning fish in an effort to help fisheries remain self-sustaining. Doug Stange, and others, have written about this now for many years, adding also that many waters are stocked with fish in order so that people can catch and keep them, known as put-and-take fisheries.

When you kill something on a hunting trip, you’re in for another real treat when you cook up what you got. This is a huge part of the tradition of fishing and hunting, something that we will be working on at the School of Outdoor Sports as we continue to develop lessons in our virtual classroom. In the meantime, here’s to a great fall for everybody, full of hunting and fishing and amazing meals made from what you catch up with.

Northern pike cooking rapidly on white-hot cast iron skillet.(Thanks to Rick Wood for teaching me how to do blackened fish, and to Mike Walsh for working on recipes that he’ll be showing us on the SOS site in the coming years.)