Some of my fondest memories of my Dad are from the many fishing trips I took with my Dad and my kids into the Canadian wilderness. Spending a week on a lake that can only be accessed by float plane ensured that we would have spectacular fishing and some unexpected adventures.
Our group of family and friends often numbered as many as 10-15 people. You can imagine the challenge of planning 7 days of meals for 15 people in a place where there is no access to provisions other than the ones we brought in with us on the float plane. Fortunately, we never had to worry about going hungry because the fishing was so plentiful that we could have easily had fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.
The preferred fish for eating is the Canadian Walleye. The meat is firm and mild from the cold waters they thrive in. They are easy to fillet and debone which makes the eating experience even better. Walleye, while sometimes called a pickerel or pike, are actually a member of the Perch family. Walleye are often referred to as “The Fillet Mignon of the North” because of their taste and desirability. In the cold waters of Canada, the fish grow much slower and the best eating fish are in the 2-3 lbs range even though fish as large as 8-10 lbs are possible to catch.
Being with my Dad and kids in such a beautiful north woods wilderness was such a wonderful bonding experience. The laughter, storytelling, and wisdom my Dad shared with us on those trips when we had his undivided attention was such an amazing gift. There is just something about being in a boat with your Dad chasing that elusive monster fish all day that seems to put the rest of life in the proper perspective. Spending the entire day outside also builds up one heck of an appetite as well. Did you ever notice how extra good food tastes when you are outdoors all day long? Our favorite meals were always the shore lunch or Walleye dinner cooked over an open fire. Fresh fish that is right from the lake into the frying pan is unmatched in taste and quality. I like to use peanut oil for frying because of the flavor and higher “smoke point” when cooking fish over an open fire. A campfire is more difficult to regulate and the peanut oil is more forgiving. It also better to use a heavy pan with a long handle for ease and safety. Make sure your oil is preheated before adding the fish to the pan. Drop a small piece of batter in the oil and if it sizzles when it hits the oil then you know you are ready to start adding the fish. Don’t over crowd the fish in the pan as you don’t want the oil to cool down too much during the frying process. Let the cooked fish drain on a brown paper bag or paper towels and enjoy.
Try this Taste Of Home recipe when making your next fish dinner. The batter is universal so it will work with any freshwater fish if you prefer bass, catfish, or panfish.
- 1 cup biscuit/baking mix
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
- Oil for frying
- 1 pound walleye fillets, skin removed
- Lemon wedges
- In a shallow bowl, mix the first six ingredients. Place milk in a separate shallow bowl. In an electric skillet, heat 1/4 in. of oil to 375°.
- In batches, dip fish in milk, then coat with baking mix mixture; fry for 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Yield: 4 servings.
One special after-dinner treat we make when on our trips is “Campfire Doughnuts”. Just open up a can of refrigerated biscuit dough (the ones that come in the cardboard can) and separate them with your fingers. Poke a hole in the center to make a doughnut shape and drop them into the preheated Peanut Oil. When the underside is brown, flip the doughnuts over to cook the other side. When they are done, drop them into a brown paper bag with some sugar and cinnamon and give them a shake. We spent many evenings sitting around a campfire eating these warm doughnut treats before heading to bed. Here’s another great dessert recipe for the campfire. Try this out with your dad.
- 2 cans (21 ounces each) raspberry pie filling
- 1 package yellow cake mix (regular size)
- 1-1/4 cups water
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- Vanilla ice cream, optional
- Prepare grill or campfire for low heat, using 16-20 charcoal briquettes or large wood chips.
- Line a Dutch oven with heavy-duty aluminum foil; add pie filling. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, water and oil. Spread over pie filling.
- Cover Dutch oven. When briquettes or wood chips are covered with white ash, place Dutch oven directly on top of 8-10 of them. Using long-handled tongs, place remaining briquettes on pan cover.
- Cook for 30-40 minutes or until filling is bubbly and a toothpick inserted in the topping comes out clean. To check for doneness, use the tongs to carefully lift the cover. Serve with ice cream if desired. Yield: 12 servings.
Note: This recipe does not use eggs.
My Dad is gone now, but I have these wonderful memories and they inspire me to try my best to find ways to continue to create new memories with my kids. Thanks for everything Dad. I miss you and Happy Father’s Day!