Care of Catch improves Meal Quality
After catching a nice trout or other gamefish this summer, an average angler will likely place it on a metal stringer and drop it back in the water along the shoreline, awaiting additional fish throughout the day. Although it is a common practice, it is also wrong, according to Bruce Schmidt, former Fisheries Manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
Many chefs, who work regularly with wild game, believe this often contributes to the lack of enthusiasm, some anglers have to eating their catch. Proper care for your catch can help minimize the mossy, off flavors, often associated with hot summer fishing.
Schmidt reported, "The biggest problem we see is people who keep their dead fish in the water. That is particularly true for trout. The fish are caught down where it's cool and then die in the warm water. They may be left on a stringer for hours allowing the fish to slowly decompose."
Schmidt noted that fish, especially trout, decompose easily and their meat will change from pink to pale white if left in the warm water too long. When a fish is placed in the water, either whole, cleaned or filleted, it will absorb the water and become soggy. The warmer the water, the worse it will taste.
Schmidt explained, "The best thing you can do to take care of your fish is to keep it dry and cool. Perhaps the best way to take care of your fish is to take a small cooler full of ice with you. Put the fish in a plastic bag that will keep the water out and keep them on ice."
When this is not possible, a wicker basket filled with damp grass will also do the trick. The dampness of the grass will cool the interior though evaporative action, similar to a swamp cooler in your home.
Cleaning the fish, soon after it has died, will also help minimize off flavors. Removal of the blood and internal organs will slow the decomposition process of the entire fish. Anglers are reminded that fish parts are not to be introduced to other waters to minimize the spread of whirling disease and special regulations apply, regarding filleting fish at Strawberry. Check out a copy of the free fishing proclamation for details.
Tom Pettengill, current Fisheries Manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, added that the practice of "placing your fish in a black garbage bag in the back of your vehicle will also contribute to off flavors." This is unfortunately a common activity and is seen regularly throughout the hot summer season. He questioned, "You would not treat a fine steak like that. Why would anyone do it to their fish?"
In any case, Pettengill reminds anglers to eat what you catch, offering you with more excuses to go fishing in the near future. Use of these methods improves the value of your catch and can make it worth the effort and money you place into catching them.
Remember, for best results, when preparing fish for dinner, trout do not need to be scaled. Removal of the tiny scales also removes the thin coat of natural jelly around the scales, which allows the trout to be breaded without using any type of liquid. Mild flavored oils are also highly recommended since off-flavors in fats can be transferred to the taste of the trout. Best fats include butter, hydrogenated shortening, peanut or corn oils. You also want to prepare it hot and quick.. Trout fried at a low temperatures absorb too much fat. The best temperature is between 325 to 350F. Another common mistake includes overcooking the fish. Trout should be moist and fork-tender. Overcooking dries out and toughens the fish. Trout is done when it flakes easily when probed with a fork. To assure good flavor and texture when preparing trout, follow these
handling how-to' s.
Fresh trout should be glistening, flawless and clean smelling. The flesh should be firm and spring back when pressed. When buying whole trout, look for bright red gills and shiny skin. Whether you buy fresh or frozen, buy it last before heading home. If you'll be delayed, have it packed on ice. Store fresh trout in the coldest part of your refrigerator (usually the lowest shelf at the back or in the meat keeper) as close to 32F as possible. Pettengill also recommends that anglers keep only that which you will consume within the next few days. For best results, use fresh trout within 2 days if possible.
Freezer burn and other off-flavors are often associated with fish, placed in the freezer for long term storage. To minimize freezer burn, fill a quality freezer bag with water, allowing it to cover and seal the fish in a block of ice. Should any leaks develop in the bag, the freezer burn will primarily affect the outer layer of the ice instead of the fish. The United States Trout Farmers Association recommends that packaged frozen trout should be rock-hard, clear of ice crystals, having no white spots indicating freezer burn and showing no signs of thawed juices. Packages should be clean and tightly sealed. Store at 0 F or below for no more than three months.
To thaw trout, gradually defrost in the refrigerator overnight and avoid thawing it at room temperature. To thaw quickly, seal the fish in a plastic bag and immerse in cold water for about an hour or microwave on the "defrost" setting, stopping when fish is still icy but pliable. Once your trout thaws, it should be used immediately. Never re-freeze trout after thawing. This will seriously impair the flavor.
One of the most appealing characteristics of trout is the variety of ways it can be cooked. For best results follow these basic preparation pointers from the United States Trout Farmers Association.
Baking-- To preserve flavor and moisture in the flesh, bake trout at a moderately high temperature, 400' to 450'F, for the shortest period of time. Enhance moistness and flavor with a seasoned oil; or many baked recipes call for sauces or stuffings. Test for doneness by probing with a fork. Do not turn.
Broiling-- Never place trout closer than 4 inches from the source of heat. Baste well with a basting oil or sauce before and during cooking. Broil 8 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness. Do not turn.
Grilling-- Season to taste, or baste trout with selected sauce before and during grilling. Place trout on grill approximately 4 to 6 inches from hot charcoal. Cooking time varies with size of the trout and temperature of the grill. A good rule of thumb is about 1 to 2 minutes per ounce of trout. Cook naturally folded, not open even if boned, unless otherwise directed in a specific recipe. To turn, trout will roll easily on its rounded back. To remove from the grill, slide a spatula under the trout from head to tail. To test for doneness, check inside to ensure that no pink is left. Trout that is done will flake easily with a fork. (Note: To help prevent sticking, spray grill with a non-stick product.)
Poaching-- Immerse trout in liquid barely covering it. For a flavor bonus, add wines or other liquids. Do not boil. Boiling will destroy the delicate flavor of a good fish.
Pan-Frying-- Use a small amount of hot vegetable oil, about 1/4 - 1/2 inch, in a heavy frying pan. Roll in your preferred coating and fry lightly, or saute, at a moderate temperature, until browned on one side. Place meat-side down first to sear the juices inside then turn and brown the second side. Avoid overloading the pan to maintain proper temperatures. Trout is done when it flakes easily with a fork.
Deep Frying-- Fill a fryer about half full with oil. Use light breading (flour and/or cornmeal) or thin batter. (A thick batter absorbs fat.) Fry in deep oil at 325 to 350 F until trout is brown and flakes easily with a fork.
Microwaving This is especially suited to the high temperature and short time required for cooking trout. Always thaw trout completely to ensure even cooking. Cover fish with plastic wrap, but turn back one corner to allow venting. Cook at High for 5 to 6 minutes per lb. for one whole fish; increase time for a larger number of fish. Allow to stand 3 to 5 minutes to complete cooking.
New Wildlife Viewing area now open for Birdwatchers
Ponds filled with great blue herons, Canada geese, ducks, and other birds just became easier to view with the opening of the Lee Kay Ponds Auto Loop Road. Located on Division of Wildlife Resources' property south of the Salt Lake Valley Solid Waste Facility at 6030 W. California Ave., the Lee Kay Ponds provide people in the Salt Lake Valley a place to relax and enjoy nature and wildlife viewing.
The auto loop road, which provides excellent viewing of the ponds, officially opened May 10. Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife Program Coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, reported, "This is a great wildlife viewing area that isn't far from the heart of the Salt Lake Valley. We're surrounded by urban sprawl in the valley and need open space. These ponds help provide that."
The Lee Kay Ponds Auto Loop Road was built near the ponds by the Salt Lake Valley Solid Waste Facility. The road includes four wildlife viewing pullouts and a gazebo, complete with binocular viewers. "The facilities the solid waste facility has built are very, very nice and provide people a comfortable way to relax and watch the myriad of birds that use the area," Walters said.
The auto loop road is open year-round, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. For more information, call Walters at (801) 538-4771 or the Salt Lake Valley Solid Waste Facility at (801) 974-6902.
New Book Shares First Aid Information
By Brian Brinkerhoff
First aid information awaits at your fingertips with the compact and easy to use wilderness and travel first aid manual, A
Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness and Travel Medicine, written by Eric. A. Weiss, MD..
This lightweight companion, weighing only ounces and small enough to fit in your back pocket, can easily prove itself to be
an important asset to you on the road or on the trail. While other guides get left behind because of their inconvenient size or
weight, this guide can always stay in the vehicle's glovebox or inside your first aid kit, making it much more valuable to you
in an emergency, rather than gathering dust on your bookshelf.
Packed full of information, this guide provides checklists to help you decide if an illness or injury warrants immediate
evacuation. It also provides over 50 "Weiss Advice Improvised Techniques", including facts such as that melted candle wax
can make a great emergency replacement for lost fillings or that honey can make a good antibiotic ointment.
With over 70 helpful illustrations and the expanded "Fast Index" on the back cover, information is easily available in
emergency situations, when immediate action is required without impatient thumbing through the pages for the information
Weiss currently serves as the Associate Director of Trauma and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Stanford
University Medical Center as well as Medical Director and Founder of Adventure Medical Kits, currently used worldwide.
A Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness and Travel Medicine is available at many stores or can be purchased directly form
Adventure Medical Kits for under $7.00. For more information or to purchase a copy, contact Adventure Medical Kits at
Conservation Seedlings Available
By Brian Brinkerhoff
Orders are now being accepted for low-cost tree and shrub seedlings for use in windbreaks, wildlife habitat, and erosion
control. The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, located at the Lone Peak Conservation Nursery, is currently
offering seedlings for conservation purposes, costing approximately 65 cents each, with a minimum order of 100 seedlings.
These seedlings are not appropriate for landscape plantings, due to shape and size of the seedlings, according to Beagle. He
explained, "The seedlings are conservation grade and not acceptable for landscape plantings."
Beagle added, "Choice of native plants and seed source integrity are important to match the plant to different regions of the
state. The state nursery produces unique plants meeting conservation needs for most areas of the state and we're proud to
state that they are a homegrown 'Product of Utah.'"
Although large companies and state agencies purchase many seedlings, Lone Peak State Nursery provides information for
smaller landowners, new to conservation plantings. Former manager, John Justin, concluded, "We do want to emphasize that
we are available for anyone in the state for conservation purposes." To help beginners, several free brochures are available at
the nursery discussing wildlife planting, development of windbreaks, and proper planting of seedlings. To help select proper
species, Trees for Conservation is a buyers guide, available for $5.00. Their video, available for $10.00, is produced for the
layman to understand basic seedling planting techniques.
Seedlings may be ordered by mail, or through any of the six area offices of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands. For more
information, contact any state forestry office or the Lone Peak Conservation Nursery at 271 West Bitterbrush Lane, Draper,
Utah 84020, (801)571-0900. Their website is located at www.nr.state.ut.us/slf/lonepeak/home2.htm.
Several Resources available for Wildlife Planning
By Brian Brinkerhoff
With spring weather just around the corner, landowners should now be planning their upcoming landscaping needs. As plans
are developed, don't forget to include enhancements which attract wildlife, adding extra magic to the scenery. Whether you
plant flowers to attract butterflies or trees to provide homes for songbirds, the enhancements will offer rewards for seasons
Landowners have several resources available when planning to enhance wildlife visitation on their property and increase the
natural beauty of their land. The following references are particularly good sources of information and are highly
Private landowners, interested in planting large numbers of conservation seedlings, should take a look at the Tree and Shrub
Planting Handbook--A Guide for Conservation Plantings in Utah and Nevada. Prepared by the Utah and Nevada Division
of Forestry, USDA Soil Conservation Service, and the USDA Forest Service, it specifically discusses conservation plantings
in our arid state.
Topics range from erosion control, snow management, and wildlife habitat to Christmas trees, fuel wood, and roadside
plantings. This text helps landowners define their needs and determine how they can most effectively design their plantings to
meet those needs. This resource is highly recommended when serious land management for conservation use is considered.
It's detail examines design, planting, establishment, and maintenance of conservation plantings, with a large section dedicated
to windbreak plantings, considering various soil types.
Included with the Tree and Shrub Planting Handbook, is a booklet titled, Trees for Conservation--A Seedling Buyers Guide
for Utah and Nevada, which discusses trees most appropriate for this climate. Information provided for each species includes
life span, drought resistance, disease problems, and color photographs. Single copies of the combined handbooks are
available for $40.00, including shipping and handling, while multiple copies are ordered for $35.00 each.
To order these handbooks, contact David Schen or Molly Bishop at the Department of Sovereign Lands and Forestry, 3
Triad Center, Suite 425, 355 West North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84180-1204 or call them at (801) 538-5555.
Voyageur Press has published an effective guide for all wildlife enthusiasts, interested in viewing more wildlife in their
backyards. Attracting Backyard Wildlife--A Guide for Nature Lovers provides many interesting ideas and plans for attracting
butterflies, birds, and other animals to your backyard. Topics include backyard ponds, caring for injured animals,
hummingbird feeders, and appropriate seed mixtures for wintering birds.
Author, Bill Merilees provides construction diagrams and other practical tips to increase visitation and make wildlife viewing
more enjoyable in your backyard. He discusses water for wildlife, brush piles, and wildlife gardening for apartment dwellers.
If your interest includes building bird feeders and bird houses or designing a trap to reduce those pesky wasps, this book will
be worth viewing. Cover price is $10.95 and Voyageur Press can be contacted by calling 1-800-888-9653.
Creating Landscapes for Wildlife...A Guide for Back Yards in Utah, published by the Division of Wildlife Resources, is an
inexpensive wealth of information designed for wildlife enthusiasts. This booklet emphasizes developing a landscape plan for
wildlife and utilizing native flowers, trees, and shrubs, which attract and benefit wildlife. Butterflies, birds, and reptiles are
listed with their favorite food sources and habitats. This text provides very specific information as it divides the state into
various regions and lists appropriate plant species for each region.
Creating Landscapes for Wildlife...A Guide for Back Yards in Utah is available at all Division of Wildlife Resources offices.