Friday, December 23, 2011

Redds, Southern-Style

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.

Good eats

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


  1. I've never really been in favor of fishing the redds, but after reading this I have given it a lot of thought and realized part of my problem was that I didn't have a good recipe for them. Thank you for this! The redds in my neck of the woods are about as cold as they can be so the batter should stick well. They may not be as fresh as some would like but I'm grabbin' the fry pan and heading out for some deep fried brook trout redds, streamside!

    Thank you, TJ and English Jonny, for another fine year of reading and recipes.

  2. Quill,

    So long as you eat what you kill, it's OK.

    Happy Holidays!


  3. Erie is a put and take fishery. It's a double edged sword. The fish are put there for the sportsman. That is a good thing in my opinion and should be harvested if the peeps are so inclined. The natural reproducion on the southern shores of the Erie Tribs is pretty much zero with the exception of small percentages on the Catt and possibly the Grand. In general fishing over redds is questionable but so is fishing with a giant treble hook encompased with lead. It's all a matter of ethics, fair chase, and sportsmanship. If the fare is brought to hand under the guidelines of the law and will make it to the table I say so be it.
    The same hold true for the other Great Lakes with the exception of the fact that there are self sustating naturally reproducing populations of Steelhead on Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior. Actually there are amazing unique genetics that have evolved. I struggle with people fishing over redds on these systems. In this day and age we are educated and have no excuse to mimic the sins of the past. There are better means of catching steelhead that provide more fun and satisfaction than sight fishing. Not to mention the increased possiblilty of foul hooking these fish in those situations.
    Nice Blog...I'll be stoppin by.

  4. Sometimes what bother me most are not the consequences of the actions I observe, but rather what they say about the people doing them.

  5. Brook trout redds on hole wheat can be so delicious when served outdoors. Shared.

  6. TJ I totally agree...The actions speak volumes to the character of the individuals. I often marvel at the garbage that is left behind on the banks of pristine heavenly flows. Some of the places I have had the opportunity to fish are as close to heaven as I presently care to visit. It never ceases to amaze me at the lengths some shitrats go to in order to deficate on the landscape. The amount of garbage and the variety of it can leave me scrathing my head at times. I guess I can't expect ethical fair chase from one that shits in their own back yard. Monkeys play with their own shit don't they? Hmmmmm

  7. I once defecated in Maine. Oh brother! That was some story. Better than the X-Files, even.

  8. Aw goddammit! Sorry I missed this when twas hot off the press. I was out doing my christmas shopping (diamond necklace for the wife, iphone for my 4 year old daughter, etc.) and missed it. So I'll just say: great recipe! I would like to point out, though, the importance of using a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil. It should be very hot when the redds are added.

  9. No apologies necessary - it's your recipe after all. We should be thanking YOU.

    And we do, particularly for reminding us to use a thermometer. Luckily, most of us carry one in our fishing vests. You're hardly a redd fisherman if you don't carry a thermometer.