WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Word of good eats gets around fast

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Word of good eats gets around fast



You are not going to believe this one. In fact, I still have a hard time believing it myself.

Last week, I fried up some fresh bluefish fillets given to this old writer by the Cooney boys, Kyle and his son Brayden.

I used the frying burner on our outdoor barbecue. Edna does not eat bluefish, so I had them all to myself. I knew they were going to be good because they were kept on ice after being filleted, and then it was into the frying pan.

I tend to like most of my fish fillets done in an egg batter, and over the years I have come up with a combination that features some Cajun seasoning, eggs and a secret ingredient. When frying fish you want the oil to be nice and hot so the batter is crisp when they are cooked.

The fish from the Cooneys were delicious beyond words when I ate them.

Now comes the “thief” part. We were in our dining room having our supper when Edna said, “Did you leave some stuff out on the barbecue? I hear something rattling out there.”

I told her she was imagining things and continued to devour my bluefish dinner.

“Mike, I’m telling you there is something rattling around the barbecue,” Edna repeated. “You had better take a look!”

Not wanting to start a fracas over what Edna “heard,” I went out onto the rear deck of the house and there was a gray squirrel snooping around the shelf of the barbecue, and it looked like he had something in his mouth.

He did! It was the fork I had used to stir the batter.

When I came onto the deck, the squirrel jumped off the barbecue and headed for the fence line and some trees, and he still had the fork in his mouth. Yes, I know this sounds crazy, but so help me that little tree rat took the fork when he made his escape.

Maybe he liked the batter that was still on the fork, I don’t know. If I had not seen this with my own eyes I would not have believed it. Ask Edna if you don’t believe me. She won’t let me forget it.

The bluefish fillets were a welcome treat because I love fresh fish when it has come from the ocean to the frying pan without ever seeing a freezer. 

In spite of the ferocious fight they can put up when caught on a fishing line, bluefish have to be handled with respect when caught if they are going to be any good to eat. I have lost count of the times I have seen a nice bluefish wasted because it was left in the sun and heat of the day.

While the bluefish is susceptible to being unfit to eat if it is not properly cooled after being caught, the same can be said for just about any fish you catch if you intend to take them home for table fare.

Over the years, I have had folks tell me they would not even bother to eat a bluefish because they are oily and very fishy in both taste and smell when they are being cooked. Take it from me, bluefish that are properly taken care of prior to eating can be really delicious.

Quite a number of years ago I was fishing for snapper blues down in Saybrook off the causeway and there was a young fisherman who seemed to be having some spectacular luck catching bigger bluefish on chunk bait. The only problem was he was leaving the dead bluefish on the hot pavement to literally dry out in the sun.

When I tried to point it out to him, he sort of took offense, so I wished him luck when he ate them. They looked half-cooked as they lay on the pavement.

Hey, maybe he knew something I didn’t.

Today, fishermen can purchase all kinds of coolers to store their catch, so keeping the fish fresh is not a problem. 

Locally, Black Pond on the Meriden/Middlefield line has been treating local fishermen pretty good, according to Marty Loos, one of the regulars at the pond.

Loos also told me that he has been doing some saltwater fishing at the mouth of the Connecticut River. He reports some fluke, porgies and striped bass. Marty said a buddy of his landed a 50-inch striper but it had to be returned to the water because of the slot limit on stripers.

Years ago, rumor had it that Black Pond was virtually bottomless, but nothing could be further from the truth. Black Pond has a surface area of approximately 76 acres and its deepest depth is 23 feet, with an average depth of 8-9 feet. Black Pond is fed almost entirely from bottom springs as well runoff from rainfall.

A unique feature of Black Pond is there is little, if any, shoreline development. At one time there was a building known as the Black Pond Boat Livery run by one of the nicest guys I have ever known, Eddie Holmes.

With Eddie’s passing, so went the boat livery. Now boats can only be trailered in or by cartop. No outboard motors are allowed on Black Pond. but you can use an electric trolling motor.

With the passing of Eddie Holmes and the boat livery things have changed, but then so haven’t so many things in the different world we now live in. Did you know that Black Pond was once stocked with salmon? According to some of the material I have, this was done prior to 1959.

Remember the article on “lunkers” last week? If you should see Joe Tkacz III, ask him to show you the photo that he took of a lunker rainbow trout caught in the Salmon River last week by his girlfriend Christy White. It was a real beauty.

And, Joe, thanks for the bluefish.

Pat Klatt hooked into a 4½-pound largemouth bass lunker while fishing Hanover Pond. And I know for a fact that there are some largemouth bass in Hanover Pond even bigger than that.

Have a safe Fourth of July! See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving to protect us.

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