Fish Poaching with Young Anglers

As a Delaware Valley Fly Fisher, how often have you arrived at one of your favorite fishing holes only to find it occupied by unlicensed poachers, who, somehow, are able to quickly reel in lines with dozens of hooks, toss their trash into the bushes, and load their over-the-limit, undersized and out-of-season catch into their cooler and hit the highway before you can find the number for your local WCO (Waterways Conservation Officer)? If you live and fish in and around the Delaware Valley your answer is probably “more often than you’d care to remember.”

What can we do about it? Not much. Confrontation is probably not the best option. Perhaps write down their license plate and a few notes describing who and what you saw, then report it when you are safe and able. In the end – this doesn’t seem to be a very satisfying course of action so let me suggest an alternative: Become a Poacher Yourself!

Before you get your tippet in a granny knot let me explain…
Selected waters across Pennsylvania, stocked with trout, are open to fishing under special regulations on the Saturday preceding the opening day of trout season. Yes, you can fish for trout a week before most everyone else as long as you are participating in the PFBC’s 2014 Mentored Youth Fishing days. As an adult, you will need your valid fishing license and trout permit. Your “Mentored Youth” (less than 16 years of age) must possess a current “Mentored Youth Permit” or a “Voluntary Youth License.” While the “Permit” is free, I’d ask that you consider purchasing a full “Voluntary Youth License” which only costs $2.70. I recommend this because the “License” provides a great return for your investment: for each “Voluntary Youth License” sold, the PFBC receives $5.00 back in federal funding and these funds are earmarked for outreach and education programs with the goal to introduce our young people to our fine angling sports in the Commonwealth. For more information, please visit the PFBC website on the Mentored Youth Program.

Okay, so you say that you wouldn’t exactly be “poaching” these fish because you are properly licensed and permitted. Your criticism is fair enough. So here is your second option to poach fish – that is – here is a fine recipe to try with your early season catch:

Trout Poached in White Wine with Thyme

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

1/2 stick chilled butter
1 large leek (thinly sliced and well rinsed, using the white and pale green parts)
1 med. carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
4 trout, boned and butterflied
2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, minced
2 bay leaves, each sliced in half
1 cup of Riesling white wine.

In a skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat and sauté the leek and carrot strips until just tender (about 5 minutes). Arrange trout, skin side down in a large roasting pan and sprinkle them with a pinch of salt, black pepper and half of the thyme. Spread the leek and carrot mixture evenly over each fish and top each off with a half-tablespoon of butter (you should have about 3 tablespoons of butter reserved). Then gently poor the wine over the fish trying not to wash away the other ingredients.

Bake the trout until the center of each is just opaque, about 15 minutes. Transfer the fish and veggies onto plates and keep them warm with foil. Pour all the juices from the roasting pan into your skillet and reduce this by boiling and constant stirring to about 3/4 of a cup (about 5 minutes). Remove any remaining bay leaves. Add remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and remaining thyme and whisk mixture until butter has melted. Pour sauce over fish and serve.

This dish is great served with some steamed asparagus and a simple baked potato.

Special Note to our friends and followers: If you do take a young person fishing on this special day we invite you to send a photo from your trip… or your dinner table!

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