Cooking Your Catch

As a child, I fished almost every day-however, I never kept a fish to eat. It wasn't because I embraced the ethos of Lee Wulff, but rather because no one in my family was much interested in cleaning and cooking a fish. For years, it was easy for me to catch and release and look down my nose at anyone doing otherwise.

I never came to know the joy and obvious health benefits of eating one's own catch until I became an adult-and a professional fly fishing outfitter-and was invited to a private party as the "fisherman" whose job was to catch enough fish out of the stocked private pond to feed the partygoers.

To my chagrin, an artist-friend of mine at said party saw me blundering about with a large rock, shockingly and embarrassingly trying to bludgeon my catch to death. He quickly intervened and humanely slit the trout's throat with a pocket knife and deftly broke the fish's neck. He then proceeded to show me a simple approach to cooking the fish. It may seem like common sense, but this is a basic outdoor skill that most people don't have. Here's the recipe:

1. Clean your fish promptly. Remove the entrails, gills, and head, then scrape any blood from the backbone with your thumbnail. Place in cooler on ice until it's time to cook.
2. Start a small cooking fire on a rocky island or fire up the range in your comfortable abode; heat up a frying pan.
3. Rinse fish in cold water and pat dry with a towel.
4. Roll fish in flour seasoned with salt and pepper until covered.
5. Heat about 2 ounces of butter in a frying pan until bubbling, and then fry the trout for about five minutes on each side until golden brown.

Now, bon appetit! There's not much better than fried trout on a beautiful summer evening. And if a catch-and-release Nazi gives you a hard time, just smile and let the intoxicating aroma of freshly cooked fish torture his upturned nostrils.