Until recently, I never gave much thought, either way, to fishing over redds. A redd (pronounced “reh-du-du”, I guess) is that hollow depression in the river bottom made by a spawning trout or salmon where later the eggs will be laid and subsequently fertilized. Recently, Gary pointed out the irony inherent in Great Lakes steelheaders, i.e. that they violently oppose fishing over steelhead redds, despite that steelhead are not native to the Great Lakes, and in most cases, no natural reproduction occurs anyway. Well, the truth is that, as far as I can tell, most Lake Erie steelheaders have no such qualms about fishing over redds, or about anything, for that matter. For example, on my last trip, I watched an angler snag all of these fish from one very small pool. Lacking a stringer, he simply threaded a nylon tie-down strap through their gills, and then placed them in this puddle to keep them alive.
And this brings me to today’s recipe, just in time for the holidays. This recipe is courtesy of Ironic Gary, as he is known, and I have to admit, it’s a real winner. I was skeptical, initially, but this has become a staple in the Brayshaw household.
You can adjust the batter to suit your tastes, but it is absolutely essential that you keep the redds very cold until they’re dipped in the batter. This helps the batter to stick to the redd. Fortunately, the redds are naturally cold, since steelhead, trout and salmon are cold-water fish. In addition, the recipe’s proportions can be adjusted to accommodate brook trout redds, which are usually much smaller than steelhead redds. (In fact, at home we sometimes simply sauté a batch of brook trout redds in a stove-top skillet, thus obviating the need for a deep fryer altogether.)
• 6 steelhead redds (trout, salmon redds may be substituted)
• 1/2 cup evaporated milk
• 1 tablespoon salt
• dash pepper
• 1 cup flour
• 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
• 2 teaspoons paprika
• Deep fryer, with oil
Clean, wash and dry the redds. It is essential to keep the redds very cold if the batter is going to stick to them. Combine milk, salt and pepper in a bowl. In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine flour, cornmeal and paprika. Dip redds in milk mixture then roll in flour and cornmeal mixture. Fry redds in hot oil for about 4 minutes. Test carefully with a fork or felt-studded wader boot and fry for 4 to 6 minutes longer, or until the redds flake easily with a fork and are browned. Drain on paper towels. Serve with bacon and hush puppies and coleslaw, if desired. Serves 6.
|Carefully lower the battered redds into the fryer|