It’s always going to happen. It’s part of fishing.
There’s always going to be the ones that get away.
Around here, conversations with other fishermen we encounter often go like this.
“How did you do today?”
“Not bad, we went six for ten.” Or, “6/10″ if we’re texting, emailing, or whatever.
That gives a quick picture of how the day went. We had ten fish on the line, and landed six of them. That sums up how we did on our two main tasks. Getting fish to bite, and landing them once they do.
6/10 isn’t a bad day, at least when salmon fishing. Still, those ones that got away always chap the behind, don’t they?
You’re always going to have some fish spit the hook on you. It’s part of the challenge, and part of the frustration. Learning to play and land fish is a very large part of becoming a better fisherman. So here are ten top tips for getting that fish from the strike to the net. Continue ReadingRead More »
Still have smoked salmon in your freezer from last season? Me too.
Plus I know that many of you have kept your smokers busy over this Spring-like excuse for a Winter we’ve had here in the Pacific Northwest.
What I like about this recipe is that it works either as a side dish or as an entree by itself. It takes advantage of the fact that hot smoked salmon has many of the same flavor notes as bacon: salt, smoke, and just a hint of sweetness.
Smoked salmon and potatoes are a popular combination. Putting lox on top potato latkes is a classic. This recipe is a heartier, more stick-to-your-ribs take on that idea.
Smoked Salmon Twice Baked Potatoes
4 large russet potatoes *
1 Tbs oil
1 tsp kosher salt
*I’ll usually bake a couple extra potatoes also. That way I have spares in case any of the skins break when scooping them out. Plus that gives me extra potato to mound the twice bakes up nice & high.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Wash the potatoes, rub them all over with oil, and sprinkle them with the salt.
Bake for 1 hour or until a fork slides easily through the center.
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1 Tbs chopped parsley
2 tbs minced scallions
6 oz smoked salmon, flaked
While the potatoes are still very warm, cut them in half and scoop them out. Be sure to leave enough “flesh” attached to the potato skins that they hold together.
In a bowl, combine the scooped potato flesh, butter, sour cream, salt, pepper, milk, parsley, scallions, and half the cheese. Using a potato masher or stiff whisk, mash the mixture until well-mixed and fluffy.
Add the flaked smoked salmon. Using a spoon or plastic spatula, gently fold the salmon into the potato mixture.
Fill the potato skins with the salmon/potato mixture. Don’t be afraid to mound them up high.
Top them with the remaining cheese.
Bake the stuffed potatoes for 20 minutes, or until brown on the outside and hot at the center.
I’ve done a couple different attempts at making salmon caviar. The first was a pretty standard salt brine. After cleaning the eggs, they go in the brine for 30 minutes, then get rinsed and are allowed to drain overnight before getting jarred. It lasts for a while in the fridge after curing, but vacuum sealing the jars will extend that quite a bit.
This week I tried a different cure on a batch of eggs. The recipe was supposedly a Japanese Ikura style cure, like you might get at a sushi restaurant. Rather than a simple salt brine, and a 30 minute cure, this has a mix of salt, sake, dashi, soy and sugar, and its in the cure overnight.Read More »
“That should’ve been my fish.”
I had just gotten my line back in the water after landing a nice hatchery steelhead, when the guy just down from me made that comment.
“I looked away for a second, and when I turned back around my bobber was under. I tried to set the hook, but I was too late.”
He sounded kind of gruff about it, but I don’t know the guy and I choose to think he was being self-effacing, rather than being bitter at me for catching “his” fish.
There’s an important lesson there, in this style of fishing you need to keep your eye on your float or you’re going to miss fish.
That’s part of the beauty of float fishing or “bobber dogging”. There’s a quiet but sharp focus you are keeping on your line, on the water, and on that little piece of plastic that’s floating down the river.
Those of you who have been following my antics, likely know that during the warmer months I spend a good deal of time trolling for salmon out in the salt water. That type of fishing is peaceful in it’s own way. After setting the rods we usually have time to gaze around at the scenery, engage in conversation, listen music, and (far too often) check our phones for messages. Of course we’re keeping an eye on our rods, but it’s pretty obvious when a line gets hit. So we’re free to divert our attention now and again. Continue ReadingRead More »
The coho fishing out in the salt water is winding down for the season. It’s time to start hitting the rivers.
I like to review my river fishing videos from last season, to see if there are any areas I need to focus on improving.Read More »
They say that one of the keys to being a good blogger is consistency. Well, I’ve got that part dialed in. Every summer, I consistently stop writing posts. That counts, right?
Hey, when the salmon are running through our area, my days consist of getting up early and hitting the water for a few hours. Then it’s off to work, hopefully with some fish & crabs in my cooler. When the work day is over, I head home and cook some of that fresh seafood for dinner. After dinner, I sit down with a cocktail, fully prepared to type out a recipe or fishing story …… and I fall asleep. Then the cycle starts over. Hey, it’s a formula, but it works for me. Perhaps not so much for this blog, but it works for me.
It was an interesting summer here in the Puget Sound. The bait patterns were unusual, and that meant the salmon were often not to be found in their usual hot spots. Oh, we found our fish, but it was a season of lessons about not becoming a creature of habit. It was about following signs of life, following the bait, following our marine electronics, and not just following the fleet of other fishing boats. Unless of course there are nets flying in said fleet. Most importantly, it was about learning to pay attention to changing situations, and adapt to them … or go home with an empty cooler. Continue ReadingRead More »
Just remember what I’ve told you before, the key to a full crab pot is two baits. One broadcast bait to lure the crab in, and a feeder bait to keep them in the trap once they enter. After that, it’s all a matter of finding the right location and the right depth.
Opening day was mid-week, and as most of my buddies were at work, I went out by myself for the year’s first crabbing trip. I dropped one pot at 70 feet, and the other at 95. When I pulled the 95 footer, I found one female and one keeper. Not great for my first pull of the opening day. Then I pulled the 70 foot pot… Holy shit!
I had to strain to lift this pot over the gunnel. It had 11 females in it, and 12 keeper sized males. Pity I was out there solo. I kept my limit of 5, all of them brutes. The other 8 potential keepers got stay of executi…um, deliciousness.
Speaking of deliciousness, I decided to add a little Latin fare to my crab this time around. Rellenos are a fun meal, and a something that many of us don’t have often: a Mexican dish that doesn’t involve chips or tortilla. Mild chili peppers stuffed with cheese, and served with cooked tomato salsa: It’s hard to go wrong with that combination. Add in fresh crab meat, and you’ve got a meal people will talk about for a while. Continue ReadingRead More »
Copper River salmon season has begun, and with it,the media hoopla and excitement over the arrival of these fish in area restaurants. My first Spring working as Chef in Seattle, I was stunned by the customer reaction to the coming of ‘The Copper”. Early in the morning of the first day of the season, the phone starts ringing. “Do you have Copper River salmon?” “Will it be available tonight?” “Can I reserve some for my table in case you sell out?”
If you are a known seafood restaurant in this area, and you have Copper River salmon on the menu, you will be busy for the next few nights. If you don’t, a lot of customers are going to go elsewhere.
You’ve probably heard the story on Copper River salmon, how they have such a long, hard journey from the ocean up the river to their spawning grounds that these fish have developed a higher fat content to sustain themselves over their extended freshwater trek. There is some debate about how much of the Copper River salmon’s purported quality is migration and how much is marketing. I’ll stay out of that argument for the time being.
I will say that there is something to be said for how long (both time and distance) there is between when a salmon enters the fresh water, and when it spawns. When returning salmon hit the mouth of the river, they are in peak condition. They’ve been bulking up during their time in the ocean. That part of their life cycle is all about stuffing their faces, hitting the gym, downing protein shakes and creatine supplements. By the time they are ready to make their transition from the salt back to fresh water, they’re oiled up and muscular. And just in case it’s not clear, muscles mean meat and fat means flavor. That brings us to the significance of whether a salmon is a marathoner or a sprinter. Once the salmon are in the river, they start living off those reserves they’ve built up. They start to burn up that fat & muscle to sustain them as they travel towards the spawning grounds, and their metabolisms are focused on developing their reproductive organs. Therefore it makes sense that a subspecies that has an epic journey upriver is going to need to build up more fat & flesh than one that is spawning a couple miles from the salt. The Copper River is swift and 285 miles long. No small trek there. However, it’s not the longest swim up river that migrating salmon make, not by a long shot. Our own Columbia river is over 1,200 miles long, with several major tributary rivers. The most notorious of which is the Snake River. They say the salmon traveling that river get so big, Evel Knievel needed a rocket to jump over them. My facts might be a little blurry there, but my point stands.
Of course it’s not just about how far they have to travel up river, it’s also a matter of how long they are in fresh water before spawning. A lot of king salmon are summer returners, some even push into early fall. There are also the ones that get an early start on the process. Spring return salmon, “springers”, start rolling into the rivers in March & April. Those fish need to be ready to last significantly longer in fresh water than their summer run brethren. That means they are even more oily, and therefore better tasting, than the average king salmon. Continue ReadingRead More »