We slid the canoe into the Susquehanna River last Sunday for a “quick” limit of “rockfish”. The season had started and the limit was 2 “stripers’ over 18 inches and under 28 inches. Reports were that the morning bite was great and a couple casts would produce your limit in time for breakfast.
The boat ramp and shoreline was packed with “weekend warriors” like us. After about an hour of casting with limited success, we were starting to think more about lunch than breakfast. Finally, my “Atom Popper” drew some strikes and we had one keeper on the stringer. Several smaller “strippers” went back into the river. A smallmouth also joined the party. For all of the fishermen we saw, only one keeper rockfish was seen. We saw so many kayaks, I thought a convention was going on.
We explored upriver looking for the elusive “Glory Hole”. A few more small rockfish and several strikes later we were still short of our limits. White perch were jumping so we tied on some jigs and began loading the stringer with “Blackbacks”. As we jigged for perch, we also were rewarded with a couple nice Channel cats and eventually the “keeper” Rockfish we had hoped for made their way into the boat.
Taking what the river had to offer is important if you want to catch fish. Things don’t always turn out as planned so it is important to adapt and adjust. Many fishermen stay too focused on catching one fish a certain way. You know who I mean. Some fly fishermen will only fish with dry flies even though trout feed on subsurface food 90% of their lives. If a “Striper” fisherman can’t catch a fish on a popping lure, then it is better to head home? Catfish are trash fish to some and white perch are too small. Guys that spend more time “fishing” and little time “catching” know all of these excuses.
Sometimes, the “mixed bag” becomes what is for dinner. You take what the river gives and fill the stringer. Now you are enjoying more time “catching” fish and less time making excuses.
The next step is to have a fish fry! The bowl full of filets was on ice and the phone calls went out. I coated the filets in dry pancake batter spiced up with “Old Bay” seasoning. Placing the filets onto wax paper and refrigerating them ahead of time allows the coating to set. Once the oil is hot, I dropped the filets into the hot bath for a quick fry. Place them onto some paper towels to cool and get out the dipping sauces.
The White Perch appetizers went first. They were like fish potato chips. Next, the Rockfish were off the plate. The “Catfish-haters”, never knew what hit them. They disappeared quickly without them knowing what they were eating. Crumbs were the only survivors of this fish fry frenzy. Friends and family went on the “feed”. The salads that everyone brought were washed down with cold drinks, beer, and laughter.
Eating a “Mixed Bag” of fish is a great way to celebrate what we do as sportsmen. It is also a way to say “sorry” for coming home late from another fishing trip! We missed breakfast and lunch but the dinner was worth the effort and abuse!
Tight lines and full stringers!