Sep 26, 2012

I Ate Squaw (and liked it)

Considered a "trash" fish, the Northern Pikeminnow is treated with extreme prejudice by sport fisherman in Oregon.  Previously called Squawfish, they're are often killed and thrown back into the river when landed by anglers hoping to hook a salmon or steelhead.  The practice is supported by the state's department of fish and wildlife - with a bounty on them in the Columbia river basin of up to eight dollars per fish!  This Dudette does not abide.  The Pikeminnow is not an invasive species - it is native to Oregon waters and is a natural predator of young salmon.   Not only do I sense irrational management of our fisheries and lack of respect for wildlife in the policy, but that kind of thinking grates against the values I grew up with.  Namely, that my mother taught my brothers and I that if you purposely KILL an animal, then you EAT that animal.   

So I resolved eat the three pound Pikeminnow I caught while fishing for steelhead on the Rogue river with my dad last week.    I've heard that Squawfish taste bad - whatever that means.  I've heard they're oily.  I've heard they're too bony.  I suspected the fish would taste fine.  I mean, how could a fish that lives in the same waters we eat trout and salmon from - and that eats trout and salmon itself - taste too bad?  I decided I'd cook half the fish the way I do other white fleshed freshwater fish I enjoy -  filleted and dusted with flour, salt and pepper, then lightly fried.  The other half of the fish I would smoke and pressure can along with the steelhead I caught on the Rogue.