Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Targeting the Less Targeted

In the past couple of days I have found myself having the same conversation with several different people.  With a little inspiration from a friend of mine I have decided to put some thoughts down for everyones careful consideration.

  Here in Minnesota it is no secret that the most popular of fish, is the Walleye.  People are always raving about how good walleye is, and how wonderful it is to catch a stringer full of  walleye and have shore lunch.  I am not disputing there claims, as I am one, who in the past enjoyed that exact meal.  Last year however, I only caught one walleye and it wasn't even big enough to keep.  I wasn't going to feed anybody with that.  It was only by chance last year I got back into catching panfish, bluegills, sunfish and perch with the occasional rock bass thrown in for fun.  I was able to catch enough to have a small stockpile in the freezer to eat over the winter.

My point being that I have spent so much time focussing on catching walleye and northern that I have missed out on putting fish in my freezer.  We all love to eat walleye but seem to have forgetten that there are lots of other fish that are perfectly edible and delicious.  Somewhere along the line I got snotty about the fish I wanted to catch and forgot the actual purpose of fishing, to put food on the table. 

When I go hunting I am not out there because I want to kill a big buck with big antlers to hang on my wall.  I am out there to put meat in the freezer, and depending on where I am hunting have no problem shooting does and yearling fawns.  When I am in norhtern Minnesota I am looking for a big bodied deer that will provide the best eating meat.  When I am hunting in the metro area I am looking for any deer that comes within bow range.  The Metro deer area isn't designed for trophy hunting, it is designed to thin the deer population that is living within our metro area.  According to the rules I am allowed to kill an unlimited number of antlerless deer within this area.  This is great for me because if gives me the opportunity to put meat in the freezer.

The greatest part of fishing and hunting, for me, is that I get to cook and prepare what I bring home in new and delicious ways.  If that is my purpose than I really shouldn't be picky about what I am catching or hunting.  Which brings me back to the conversation I have been having.  Why don't people target and eat more rough fish?  I have in the past eaten carp, buffalo, redhorse, gar, catfish and bullhead and enjoyed them.  Each one can be delicious, you just have to cook it right.  

With all this in mind I have decided to make an effort to target some of these species and find ways to prepare them, that I can pass along to whoever will read this blog.  I have been reading alot about bowfishing and think that at some point I am going to have to give it a try.  In the meantime, I was told by a friend of mine that the cannon river is full of carp and redhorse and that might be a good place to start.  If anyone out there has any thoughts about where to go or pointer on how to catch these fish I would love to hear them.  I have heard that carp will take a fly and think that could be fun catching carp with a fly rod.


  1. Hi there, I read your article and cant agree more! I live in ontario canada and up here everyone targets "game fish" bass, walleye, trout, salmon pike ect. I love catching big rock bass that are 10" and up.... everyone overlooks them here and they taste no different than perch. I do alot of carp fishing as well, not to keep, but if you are serious about catching carp, you need to buy the book "carp fishing in canada" it is by far the best book for catching carp in north america. Trust me, it is well worth the money. Im glad to hear there are like minded individuals in the fishing community... I never go fishing and dont come back with fish.... fishing snobs on the other hand go hungry. :) Cheers! :Adam

    1. Adam, thank you for reading. I grew up eating rock bass that I used to catch off the dock at my grandma's house. In my opinion they are a very underrated eating fish. If you are interested in trying carp give this recipe a try. http://simplegoodandtasty.com/2013/06/06/hunting-for-dinner-bowfishing-for-carp-and-a-recipe-for-carp-ceviche

  2. If you haven't already, you need to read "Fishing for Buffalo" by Tom Dickson. The author used to live in the TC metro, so it is pretty locally biased.

    The Cannon is a great place to chase less popular species. The Mississippi (upstream of the Minnesota confluence) is great. The lower Vermillion river (try below the falls in Hastings) can be great. Lake Waconia has sheephead which are underappreciated and not common in lakes around here.

    I'm going to try smoking creek chubs when trout season opens this spring. They are the fish I most commonly throw back without considering to eat. I'm also going to try cooking some mystery snails. Last summer, I noticed loads of them on the rocks at East Vadnais (the lake where St Paul draws it drinking water supply) and took one home for my son's fishtank. You can't find cleaner surface water than that in the metro.

    1. Pop,
      It sounds like you and I should have a beer sometime and see what kind of trouble we could get into. I just ordered the book it looks great. Thank you for the suggestion. If you are really interested in mystery snails I might be able to help. http://youhavetocookitright.blogspot.com/2012/05/snails.html

  3. This post is a little old, but I just wanted to say that rock bass is probably one of the best freshwater fish out there, comparable to crappies in taste. Nice to see other people enjoying them too. They are my favorite freshwater fish to eat.