Before we even get started, can we all just agree that food tastes better when you’ve been out on the water all day? For whatever reason, PopTarts, Frito’s or any variety of junk food really is just better after hours of chasing fish. I don’t know why this is. With this truth, it stands to reason that “real food”, especially when able to be cooked on site over an open fire while engaged in a day of angling, is exceptional! And if you can take it to the next level by catching – then cooking – your meal, right by the water’s edge, you’re most likely about to experience a divine meal.
Ok, with all of that out of the way, I thought I would share with you a few quick and easy, simple, samplings that I bring along with me when I go out. The common thread through all of this is my large black, campfire pan, some butter, oil, flour, and salt & pepper. Feel free to add herbs/spices, according to your own tastes. I also bring some inexpensive and light weight “fire-starter” wood.
Fresh pan-fried Turkey or Ham Sandwiches – Simply bring everything you would normally use for a good deli sandwich, but plan on frying up your protein and toasting your bread on the pan before you put it all together. A little butter on the bread. A little brush of oil for the meat. Lightly salt and pepper. You can thank me later.
Stir Fry Veggies – For this quick and easy little pan of goodness, I like to also bring a little bit of balsamic to drizzle halfway through the sizzle. Depending on what veggies you bring, microwave-steaming them ahead of time, before you bag them and throw them in the cooler bag, can reduce your cooking time greatly. Also, my advice is to wait to add the butter to the fry until the veggies have gotten to the softness you want, it will give you a nice char on the edges that is to die for!
Pan Fried (Fresh Caught) Trout – Ahh… the ultimate 5-star rating getter, with anyone who happens to go with you, if you make this happen! For cleaning, I prefer to just gut the fish, baste in the oil before rubbing the flour/pepper mix on it. Then I fold butter into the center cavity, drop it in the popping oil for just about 5 mins on each side. Let it cool for 7-10 mins, slice a lemon, garnish with those fried veggies and you’re about to create a lifelong memory.
I have one shoulder strapped cooler/carry bag that everything I need fits into. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and I have to tell you that it upgrades any outing to outstanding, when there is fresh food over a fire! What is your favorite fishing food? Drop me a line at MattMittanOutdoors@gmail.com
It goes without saying to always observe safe practices and honor campfire precautions and any property restrictions. Also, if I may suggest, only harvest from hatchery supported waters. And always, leave an area better than you found it.
Matt Mittan is co-host of “Matt & Michele Outdoors” radio show and owner of Serenity Fishing Guide Service.