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Fishing – Doctor’s Orders 1 April, 2009

Filed under: Blog — E.H. @ 11:02 pm
Tags: , , ,

Well, maybe not actually my doctor’s orders, but it is a good excuse.

I had a routine doctor’s appointment a couple weeks back, the first in awhile. (First since I left the military and I’ll just say that the year wasn’t an “oh something” number.) I’m not old quite yet, though some days I feel older than others, but I’m at that magical age when a man starts to realize he can’t simply leap before he looks and expect, should something go wrong, to bounce back from an injury quickly. Of course I’m not in the kind of shape I was in my youth, which makes a big difference on how quickly you can recover from sprains and strains and such, but I was pass due for a check-up to make sure everything is where it’s supposed to be.

Despite being far too inactive and eating based solely on “oh, that looks good” I’m not overweight and my blood work came back all in the green zones. All they had to say was that my HDL numbers, while good, could use some improvement. The best way to raise them is exercise – something I’ve been trying to force myself to do for a couple years now. The next best way to improve your HDL numbers is diet. Fish in particular is a good source of the “good” cholesterol, thus my decision to take this to mean “you need to go fishing more”.

Last night I had my first successes, catching a trio of channel catfish just after sunset at a local park. Only after I got them home did it become apparent that in the years since I last did a lot of fishing I’ve lost a bit of my touch when it comes to cleaning them. I butchered the meat a bit, but I did get them all cleaned, cooked one for supper, and I’ve got four nice fillets in the freezer. Plus I’ve verified a nice little fishing hole just a few minutes from my place. Now I just need a good spot for panfish and bass…

That nasty winter storm that came through last week looks to have killed two of my tomato plants outside, and as luck would have it, it looks like the two that died are two I’ve got “backup seedlings” of. I’m going to give the weather another week or so to be sure it’s not going to freak out again on us and then I’ll transplant the replacements outside. Plus, I could use a couple days rest after cleaning those fish. The problem with being tall is that nothing is built to the right height, which means that if I want to wash dishes (or fish or anything else) in the sink, I’ve got to bend over slightly to do it.

Add wrestling a slippery fish out of its own skin to that equation and you come out the other side very sore.

Particularly if your body is growing increasingly fond of reminding you that you not 16 anymore. How humbling is that? Clean three catfish in the sink and you’re sore the next day. I used to run five miles to get to the place I was going to work out for two hours and feel like a million bucks all day.


15 Responses to “Fishing – Doctor’s Orders”

  1. matt Says:

    This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  2. Dan Says:

    I have not went fishing in ages. I really don’t like to touch them so that’s probably why. They are forecasting snow here next Monday or Tuesday. Not a welcome sight after being pretty much snowless since Feb. I will have to keep a close eye on the temp or I might loss things outside as well.

  3. Hm, based on what I know about fishers (my hubby, for exemple) is that they’ll do a lot for the perfect catch. Why not use that as an incentive to work out by taking walks to look for the perfect fishing place? Don’t overdo it. Five minutes away is fine right now, try to upgrade with one ten minutes away in a few weeks, and then add to that in a convenient pace.

    For my own part I wish I could work out by using the water fun park in Uppsala πŸ™‚

    I tagged you in a meme to see what you’re doing for earth month πŸ™‚ There are prizes involved — Hope you’ll join in πŸ™‚

  4. E.H. Says:

    Well I don’t know that I’ll do anything extra because someone labeled a month a certain way. I think arbitrary lines and titles generally do more harm than good. If one month is Earth Month, are the rest not?

    The last time I put gas in my car… I’m pretty sure was January. I walk to work, I have a worm bin for composting… I use a fair bit more electricity than I absolutely have to, but I’m not trying to save the world; just keep my little corner relatively neat and cheap.

  5. Kim Says:

    Those must be some pretty hefty fish to be sore after your wrestling match. Maybe you should stick to minnows. πŸ™‚

  6. E.H. Says:

    They’re just channel catfish… but you don’t clean them like regular fish. They have skin rather than scales and it takes a strong grip and a pair of pliers to get them out of that skin.

    Do all that while bending over slightly because you’re too tall and you’ll be sore too.

  7. Kim Says:

    Sounds like alot of suffering just to eat some smelly catfish. Have you tried grilling them in their skin?

  8. E.H. Says:

    Well if you don’t like catfish no amount of work is going to be worth the reward.

    I’ve never heard of anyone cooking catfish with the skin on, and even if you did I’m pretty sure you couldn’t eat it so you’re taking the skin off one way or the other. If I’m going to the trouble of cleaning a fish I’d rather do it before the meal than during.

    Besides, just because I mention pain doesn’t mean I’m rolling on the floor begging for morphine. If I spend the day working in the garden I’m sure to be sore the next day, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to quit gardening any more than I’m going to quit fishing. What it really means is that I need more exercise.

  9. Kim Says:

    Here’s my train of thought (or maybe the caboose): I’ve seen salmon grilled with skin on, and then once the flesh is cooked, it seems to flake off quite easily….so maybe catfish could be cooked the same way..? Just problem solving…not trying to harrass you, EH. Any fish is worth the trouble, and catfish is quite yummy, so a simple way to cook it is always a plus in my book.

  10. E.H. Says:

    Catfish and salmon are pretty different. The meat from salmon is much denser. I don’t know how much difference it would make cooking catfish in the skin, but I’ve just had it drilled into me that catfish skin is bad.

    Ultimately it’s just not enough of a pain to skin them for me to mess with looking for a shortcut. Maybe, if I catch a stringer full of them at some point, I might try grilling one in-skin to see how it turns out, but when I’m just bringing a few home at a time I don’t want to potentially waste one.

    Oh, I got some pictures of this catch (mentioned in this entry) uploaded to the computer that I’ll put in a future post.

  11. Kim Says:

    “Catfish have skin that is similar to that of an eel, which is thick, slippery, and strong. All catfish should be skinned before cooking. The easiest method to skin a catfish is to nail the head of the dead fish to a board, hold on to its tail, and pull the skin off with pliers.”


  12. E.H. Says:

    Yeah, I don’t generally go into much detail when it comes to the method of cleaning catfish. I was taught a slightly different technique but I’ve seen the board/nail method done.

    It’s definitely not for the faint of heart or the timid. For one thing, catfish have three fins (one on each side just behind the head, and the front-most dorsal fin) that contain sharp hollow bones. When bothered they extend these fins and thrash about trying to stick you with them. They also carry a venom in those fins that is very, very irritating. (Like the way your skin can puff up from a cat scratch, but itchier.)

    So you’ve got that to deal with. Plus catfish can breathe air to a limited degree, meaning that when it comes time to clean them they’re likely to still be quite alive. I’ve had fish that were frozen stiff come back to life after thawing out. Not much actually kills them.

    Like I said, I don’t want to go into the gory details, but you’re dealing with a strong, rugged fish that can deal you some superficial but painful injuries, and is too primitive (or stubborn) to know when it should be already dead.

    Oh, and the “nail the head of the dead fish to the board” part described above… I’m not sure how they advocate making a catfish dead, but I’d be skeptical of killing one with a nail through the head. They’re like the bad guy in the horror film – just when you think they’ve kicked the bucket they come back for more.

  13. Kim Says:

    Wow, I never knew they were so…unkillable. And poisonous. Perhaps that’s why they’re called catfish….they have nine lives as well.

    A fatal attraction.

  14. E.H. Says:

    They’re like most primitive animals… they survived this long largely because they’re just incredibly hearty.

    Technically they’re venomous (the difference is intent.) Things that can use these toxic proteins offensively are venomous, things that simply contain them but can’t harm you unless you eat them or abuse them are poisonous. Rattlesnakes are venomous, nightshade is poisonous.

    The kind of catfish people fish for aren’t dangerous. They can’t inject the venom and it’s more irritating than anything else. They’ll scratch you if you give them a chance, but it’s easy to learn how to handle them safely. I can’t remember the last time one actually scratched me.

  15. […] I have pictures of the three fish I caught awhile back and talked about in the Fishing – Doctor’s Orders post.Β  They’re kind of Goldilocks-style: small, medium, and large.Β  Though really none of […]

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