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Many families are on vacation, camping in parks and fishing in freshwater streams.
Camping or fishing on vacation is a time to enjoy fresh air, get some exercise, relax and of course get a needed break from the daily routine.
This is a time the whole family will enjoy.
If fishing, I hope you are properly transporting the fish. They should be cleaned and kept frozen.
You can safely keep the fish for three days by soaking paper towels in water, wringing them out, and wrapping the fillets in them. Place the towel wrapped fish in a zip lock bag and keep in a refrigerator. This will keep them moist for up to three days.
If you plan to catch enough for a larger meal, you must freeze them. Frozen pan fish will stay in great condition up to nine months. Be sure all the air is out of the bag or you will have freezer burn.
Be sure to label each package with the name of catch and the date. To defrost frozen fish, take out of freezer and put in refrigerator the night before. It will defrost evenly and still stay cold.
Every specie of fish has a different flavor but all fish cooks quickly and should not be over-cooked.
Pan fish are most often fried. So if you are on a diet, I suggest you use a light batter and olive oil in a iron skillet. In a survey of anglers, 9 out of 10 used an iron skillet for frying pan fish.
Some have electric tub deep fryers but use them for larger fish and shark fillets.
Pan fish can be broiled. I found that only the larger fillets stay moist in the broiler. The small ones will dry out.
This is my basic dry dusting recipe:
1 - cup flour
1 - can evaporated milk
1 - tsp. each of salt and pepper
Mix dry ingredients.
Dip fillet in milk
Dust in flour-salt-pepper
Slide into pan of hot oil
Cook until brown
A wet dunking mix:
2 eggs, tsp baking powder, a half cup water and a tsp. sugar, along with cup of flour. No milk.
Some anglers say they never use flour, only cornmeal. Others add cheese to their basic mix. I suggest you experiment on your own.
Florida has many pan fish in their lakes and streams. Pan fishing is year round - all 12 months of the year.
I heard some cliches about the wind this week. ďWhen the wind is from the east, the fish bite the least. When the wind is from the west, the fish bite the best.Ē
Anyone can experience backlashes and tangled lines if casting into the wind. Try shorter casts or sidearm fashion and hold the rod low in a parallel position in the water.
Florida has more than a thousand species of fish with 8,000 miles of tidal coastline, so if you are not a freshwater angler, there are many out there in the saltwater.
If you fish the upper waters of both the Alafia and the Little Manatee rivers you will need a freshwater fishing license. In 1990 the fishing license was a hot topic with the local anglers. If you didnít have a Florida driverís license with you while fishing you could get a ticket from the Marine Patrol as a non-resident. Then the powers that be decided if you didnít drive, you could show a Florida voter card. Times sure have changed! Now anglers need two types of licenses to fish in the rivers, lakes and bay waters.
The usual redfish catches are appearing this week at Simmons Park.
Pier fishing is yielding sheepshead catches.
Trout are not escaping being boated and gracing dinner tables.
Flounder are being caught along with trout.
Tarpon are still jumping and soaring in the air around the bay.
Those traveling out in the blue are being entertained by sailfish in ballet action.
Snook are being hooked but released because snook season is closed.
Permit are out there, if you can find them.
Have fun, be sure and protect yourself from the sun.
Aleta Joinie Maschek is a member of the Florida Outdoor Sports Writers Press.
Back when fishing was great ó a trio of Shell Point buddies caught a dozen or more fish on each trip out. This was before the waterways were over-fished and many species of fish became restricted catches. Shown above Bob Perez, Matt Maschek and Irwin Leary.
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