The hotly debated “catch and release”- I say debated because I hunt and fish on the premise of providing food for my family, but don’t get me wrong I also do it for the enjoyment. However, sometimes I find that in catching fish or hunting game, I am struck in wonder of their beauty. I don’t mean that in a sappy or hippie type of way, but as hunters and fisherman I believe we get to view nature in a way that no one else gets to or that anyone else will understand. I know there are wildlife photographers and writers, but they miss what the “true” meaning of it all. When I’m in my blind or in my kayak pursuing fish or game, nothing pumps me up more than that big hookup with a fish or that moment before the shot. I can remember being so nervous/excited the first time I caught a fish and bagged my first game animal. Now, I can’t remember what it was either, but I do know without a doubt the immense elation and joy I felt when I caught that fish and bagged that animal. I say that to segway into what I was saying before, as outdoors-men we literally see these animals in the most beautiful and natural way, in which we control their destiny. My case in point- I am an avid red-fisherman I love their intrinsic beauty in the water and their power in which they pull the drag out of my line (like a John Deer tractor) and the little nuances of their spots which can vary.
Recently, I found myself with a red fish on the line, my heart racing, I wasn’t sure what it was, but once I knew it was a red my heart was began racing faster. Finally, getting him into the kayak I snapped some pictures and start thinking about how great he is going to taste on the grill. Then I found myself looking at all his little details the reddish-amber color, random spotting and I thought “what a beautiful creature God created.” Then I decided I was going to release him back into the water, slowly charging him back up holding his tail in the water and then watching him dart off into the flats. That’s my recent fishing example, I recall my last deer season while I was patrolling out in the woods looking for that big buck. I ended up walking upon three does I pop up my seat and sat. I started calling, hoping that a buck would be around- I figured I’d give it a while then if he didn’t show, I’d shoot one of the does. Not my best plan, but at least it would put meat in the freezer.
About 15 minutes go by and I’m growing antsy I start contemplating shooting one of the does. Then I start to admire the beauty of where I am and what I am seeing. I start thinking that as much as I would like to fill my freezer, that I’d rather just sit here and take in the sights. About another five minutes go by and the does slowly walk off, I waited for about ten more minutes-I pack up and then head back to the car. On my way home, I couldn’t help but think how pretty those animals were- just going along not knowing I was there. This is what I mean when I say that the wildlife photographers don’t get the same experience as hunters or fishermen do. We as outdoors men, literally can change everything with the pull of the trigger or the cast of a line, so to me we are more connected to that animal or that fish- kind of a symbiotic relationship that a wildlife photographer will never comprehend or feel, because they carry cameras, we have guns and fishing poles. We carry a lot of power when it comes to hunting and fishing, I would just say we use it wisely and appreciate what God has provided and occasionally-maybe just take in the sights instead and enjoy what we are seeing.
Recipe: Seared Trout w/ Brown Butter and Almond
1 Spotted Trout fillet
1 Stick of butter
1/4 cup Marcona almonds
Salt and pepper to taste
Make sure trout fillet is dry (very important for a good sear), over high heat lightly salt and pepper the fillet Get a good sear on the “face” side of the fillet-this is the side that was not connected the backbone. Once seared, should be a golden brown color. Turn over fillet in pan kill the heat and leave in the pan for 5-7 minutes this way it will finish cooking without over doing it. For the brown butter sauce, take your stick of butter an put into a medium-hot pan (don’t try to do this too fast) let the butter become foamy once the butter is fully melted and starting to foam, squeeze the lemon in the pan. After maybe 2-4 minutes the butter will start to take a brown color to it. Kill the heat and take the pan off the heat, the butter lemon mixture should look like an amber-colored beer- not burned (you will be able to tell). Then take your almonds and put on a cookie sheet in a 325 oven until they start to smell nice and toasty. Now, the plating and the eating part- take your fish out of the pan and plate it. Take a tablespoon and spoon some of your brown butter sauce on top and finish with your toasted almonds. This will give you a great tasting fish, with some subtle nutty notes in a very classic preparation, that is also very user-friendly. Serve with some creamy mushroom and Parmesan risotto and you have a very “fancy” dinner. Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading.