Sometimes I like to do a play-by-play of each fishing trip, getting all the details and little things that happened. Other times, maybe it’s better to cut to the chase and share the pictures.
Saturday morning in Michigan I went wading in a shallow pond for carp, my extremely slow wading was like some kind of yoga. I was trying not too spook the carp that were feeding all around me in the muddy water. My wading didn’t spook them, but my weighted backstabber fly usually did. Eventually I found one in a back bay with clearer water, and might have even had it on my soft hackle fly for a second before I saw it scurry away in a plume of mud.
Sunday I went out to the Fox with Sam looking for smallies, and we found them! I was ecstatic to get my first smallie of the year. Small but great. And pretty.
Sam’s suggestion of spinner + paddle tail was very effective. I found a minnow trapped in some plastic netting that looked extremely similar to the lure I was using. I freed the poor fish, but I imagine it soon became a hungry smallie’s snack. Circle of life.
The original reason I got into fishing was to catch my own food, but I rarely keep any fish for the table. Mostly because of the dubious water quality where I fish. However, the idea of finding food in “nature” (as opposed to the grocery store) still really appeals to me. With the risk of seeming even more like a hipster, I’ve been learning about foraging– finding edible food growing wild.
I’ve always been curious about dandelions- I’ve known they’re edible for some time. I’ve even seen them at some of the more diverse grocery stores I sometimes frequent. Yesterday I went out looking for some, and didn’t have to look very hard.
Next to the greenie pond I fish regularly is a natural-looking area with a sign that says “DO NOT MOW: NATIVE VEGETATION.” The internet tells me if I want to eat plants I find, avoid roads and pesticides. I found a bunch of dandelions- some with flowers, some without- growing in this unkempt area near the pond. While gathering dandelion greens I startled a brown rabbit and watched it hop away.
When I got home I washed the greens throughly. Removed from their origin, they were no different than greens I’d buy from the store… except for the flavor. Wow, what a flavor they have. I took a small bite of one of the leaves, and a strong bitter flavor smacked my tongue. The taste was similar to other greens I enjoy (like mustard or collard) but more.. grassy. The aftertaste was surprisingly similar to an imperial IPA. Naturally I loved it.
For dinner I briefly blanched the dandelion greens in heavily salted water, then sautéed them in some bacon fat with onions and carrots. The bacon fat and sweet carrots did a good job of offsetting the bitterness, but as I ate my first plate of found food it was clear I liked the raw greens much better. I will definitely be eating some deliciously bitter salads very soon.
Monday night I went out looking for more food, this time in the form of swimming things with fins. I brought my fly rod and bait bucket to Mallard Lake. I had a heck of a time casting in the 25 mph wind, let alone finding any tasty bluegills.
On the way home I stopped at Meijer to get some non-wild food. At the fish counter I discovered bluegill fillets for sale.
I almost got some, but the hefty price tag and ubiquitousness of the free version convinced me otherwise. I’d catch some to eat soon enough. I went home with some yellow perch fillets I plan on beer-battering and deep-frying, pretending I caught them myself.