Monday, February 18, 2013

Crappie. It's what's for dinner.

When I tell non-fisherpeople about my fishing addiction, I'm often presented with a series of common questions.

Non-fisherperson: "Do you eat the fish you catch?"

Me: "Not very often. I practice catch & release 97% of the time."

Non-fisherperson: "Could you bring me some fish sometime?"

Me: "Like I said, I really don't keep fish very often."

Non-fisherperson: "Do you not like to eat fish?"

Me: "It's not that I don't like to eat fish. It's just that eating the bass from the creeks where I usually fish wouldn't be very sustainable. I'd also prefer to eat fish other than bass... which is what I fish for most of the time."

Non-fisherperson: "Do you ever keep any of the fish you catch?"

Me: "Sometimes I keep a limit of stocked Rainbows, and I'd probably keep some Crappie if I caught them more often."

So here's one for all the non-fisherpeople who ask all the questions...

Cahaba River Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)

Kelly's 12 1/4" on left, Jay's 12 3/4" on right

Like I've said before, if I caught more Crappie, I'd probably eat more of my catch. So, yesterday afternoon when Kelly and I got into a few on the Cahaba River with our ultralights (and we didn't have any plans for dinner), we decided Crappie would be on the menu for the evening.

We released the first and smallest one we caught (around 11"), and then kept the two above. We made a few more unproductive casts and then decided this pair would be enough to feed the two of us. We headed home and enjoyed the freshest Crappie meal either of us has ever eaten.

Crappie and other panfish are one of the most sustainable choices for the frying pan (or baked in the oven as the case may be). As much as I support catch & release, I have no problem with anglers who make informed and sustainable choices when deciding whether or not to keep the occasional limit of fish.

Conservation is often defined as "the wise use of resources." Conservation should not be confused with preservation as the two concepts are not entirely interchangeable. They're also not mutually exclusive. There is certainly an element of preservation involved in good conservation and sustainability practices. Informed conservation is about knowing what to use and what to preserve... and sometimes it all boils down to common sense.

16 comments:

  1. Good post Jay.
    Nothing wrong with some wild fresh fish.
    I'm a little disappointed in that I don't see the meal.

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    1. Alan, sorry to disappoint. It wasn't the most photogenic meal I've ever prepared. It was pretty simple- filleted and baked in foil with a little butter and Zatarain's blackened seasoning. We had some fresh sliced sourdough bread (made by a friend) and some Alfredo macaroni & cheese to go with it. I'll try to remember to take a few pics next time.

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  2. Word. I rarely keep fish, but will nearly always take a few crappie home when I get the chance. Hard to beat fresh crappie filets.

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    1. I figured some of my fellow southerners would share my sentiment.

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  3. Those were some really nice slabs , I can almost tast those buttery fillets right now!!

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    1. HPFF, I can only claim to having caught a handful that were bigger. We've caught a whole bunch of tiny Crappie in the subdivision "lake" (pond) where Kelly's mother lives, and I know I've caught a bunch of fish slightly below legal size from the big lake spillways in Mississippi. These were two of the best I've caught from a pretty natural river environment, and that was a definite plus... I think they may have even tasted a bit better because of it.

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  4. Jay
    It looks like you finally beat Kelly with the largest crappie. I learn long time ago that the crappie is the Cadillac of meals when it comes to eating fish. The bluegill is close second. I will let you know when the lake stabilizes some. Thanks for sharing

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    1. I actually caught the third fish we released too. I've been kicking her butt with the ultralight lately. I like to think it's the many years of misspent youth (or experience if you prefer) using an ultralight. Just wait until we get the fly rods out again. I'm sure she'll regain her prowess very soon.

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  5. Nothing wrong with keeping a few fish now and then, especially the tasty ones.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Bill. Good to know others feel the same way.

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  6. Kudos, Jay, to you for a couple of the best Crappie I have ever seen. Don't usually get into them that size out west. Eating some Crappie or Bluegill will tell you why folks like to eat them. They are, indeed, quality eating! Besides with the way they tend to populate waters, thinning them out once in awhile is your duty. Tee Hee!

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    1. Thanks, Mel. We grow 'em big down South... especially on the lakes in north Mississippi. This pair is pretty average down here.

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  7. Good post. Yummy. I like Uncle Buck's seasoning.

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    1. Never tried Uncle Buck's. I assume that's available at Bass Pro Shops. We use a lot of Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning in our kitchen, and I would highly recommend it to those who have never tried it.

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  8. Hi, I have just stumbled upon your blog and like it quite a lot. I am a bank and kayak angler from Birmingham who fishes alot around the area when i can. May i ask where in the cahaba you caught these crappie? I have caught a few here and there and keep hearing of great crappie in our section of the river but can't pinpoint them to any one section or spot. Thanks for all the good info

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    1. These fish were caught just downstream of the Grant's Mill Road access... finding the exact spot will be up to you and a little luck.

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