Most folks think ice fishing is just for nuts. Sitting on a frozen lake in the cold jigging a little rod is just crazy! Freezing cold weather, fat man clothes, slippery ice, need I say more. Actually, ice fishing is a great way to make new friends and catch fish.
The other day I hit the frozen water for some panfish fishing. There is nothing better than fresh fish for dinner. After loading the ice with about 25 assorted panfish, it was time to start planning dinner. Fish that are caught and end up directly on the ice are the best. For me, fish are the tastiest when they are fresh.
Fileting fish requires a flexible blade that is sharp. The Rapala knives work well and are inexpensive. A hand held knife sharpener will help to keep your blade sharp. Check out some u-tube videos on how to filet if you are a newbie. You can also wear a Kevlar glove to protect your hand that holds the filet. The best way to learn is to just dig in.
A sharp knife is essential for ribbing and skinning the filets. Removing the skin and ribs will also eliminate most of the fatty areas where any toxins or pollutants may be stored.
I also “Sweeten my Filets” by soaking them in a bath of 3 tbsp. of salt and 2 tsp. of baking soda mixed into 1 gallon of water. Submerge the filets in the solution. I weigh them down with a plate. Refrigerate and let soak for up to several hours. Rinse with cold water and drip dry on paper towels. Once you see what floats to the surface after this bath, you will never not Sweeten your filets. The fish also will taste wonderful and clean. Try it and you too will become a believer.
For my fish batter, I keep it simple. Place some complete dry pancake batter mix into a plastic bag. I also add some Old Bay spice seasoning. When your filets are dry, toss them into the bag and Shake them up. Then place them onto some wax paper and let them rest at least 30 min. You can stack the layers with more wax paper. The batter will hold onto the fish better if you allow the fish to rest. It is great to do these steps ahead of time.
Drop the filets into your hot oil. A few minutes are all that is needed for the filets to float to the surface. Monitor the temperature of your oil between batches. I also fry up Hush Puppies or Sweet Potato French Fries for my side. Prepare a fresh tartar sauce as well. I use equal parts of mayo and sour cream along with a splash of lemon juice and parsley.
The next part is easy! Place the filets onto a fresh hamburger bun or bread. Add a little sauce , a fresh slice of tomato, and shove it into your mouth!
Damn, it doesn’t get any better than that!