A Beginner’s Guide to Fishing: Catching & Cooking Tips

“All men are equal before fish.” –Herbert Hoover

How to Go Fishing Outdoors Fishing is a rewarding outdoor activity. For some, it’s a peaceful and serene experience, which gives the mind time to think and drift. For others, fishing is a productive hobby, the result of which is a tasty dinner or a healthy breakfast.

Whether you’re new to the activity or have been doing it for a long time, you’ll need the right tools and a lot of patience to be a good fisherman (or fisherwoman). Hopefully you also enjoy quiet, contemplative time spent in nature. To be good at fishing, you’ll need to be comfortable with cold water, knives, fishing hooks and bait.

As with other hobbies, practice makes perfect. The more time you spend fishing, the better you’ll be at the activity. You’ll also need information about methods for catching fish, when to go, how to get started, how to cook fish, licensing information and much more. If you’re a beginner with a few tools and the motivation to learn more about this noble and ancient sport, this guide will provide you with everything you need to get started right away.

Preparation

As with many other outdoor activities and sports, fishing requires extensive preparation. Before you can go fishing for the first time, you’ll need to identify and gather the right materials, get a fishing license, register your boat and find a suitable spot to fish.

Failure to prepare could leave you in a bad position. At best, you may find yourself without the tools you need to catch or prepare fish. At worst, you could find yourself illegally fishing, which could result in fines. All of these potential problems can be avoided if you prepare. Here’s what you need to know.

Checklist of Materials

Start a checklist of materials to bring with you on every fishing trip. The checklist below is a good starting point, but you’ll find materials to add to your check list as you become more experienced. Your checklist should be a living document, which you grow and change as your fishing habits change. This checklist is divided into two segments: items you’ll need for the act of fishing, and items you’ll need for self-care, troubleshooting and other aspects of your fishing trip.

Fishing Gear

  • Hooks. There are many types of hooks that can be used for fishing; keep a variety of hooks on hand in case you lose some or need additional hooks for different types of fish.
  • Bobbers. Also called floaters, bobbers rest on the surface of the water and bob up and down when a fish bites.
  • Sinkers. This is a weight that can be attached to the end of your fishing line; bring more than one in case you lose a sinker while fishing.
  • Extra line. Carry extra line in case your line becomes knotted or broken.
  • Lures/bait. Lures vary in size and appearance, so buy lures based on the type of fish you’re hoping to attract.
  • Fishing pliers. These are useful for twisting hooks out of a fish’s mouth or for moving them around.
  • Plastic worms. Some people use live worms, but many swear by plastic worms, especially when bass fishing with a bass fishing rod.
  • Fishing rod. This is perhaps the most obvious item; shop around when choosing a rod, as the type you select will affect your fishing outcomes.
  • Nail cutters. This is useful for trimming the line, but you can also use scissors.
  • Cooler with ice. This is only necessary if you’re planning to keep the fish you catch.
  • Net. You’ll need a net if you plan to catch heavy, hard-to-grasp fish.
  • Tackle boxes. Tackle boxes can store your bait, lures, and other equipment. It will make transporting all your gear that much easier.

The most important thing to remember when packing fishing items for your trip: things will break and get lost. Always bring more than you think you need to have a successful fishing trip.

Personal Gear

Most of the items on this list are self-explanatory. Dress according to the weather and conditions in the place where you’ll be fishing. Check the weather report in the morning and dress in layers. Always bring more water than you think you’ll need for the day. Finally, research the area where you’ll be fishing before making your materials list. The conditions in the area may affect what you choose to bring with you.

  • First aid kit
  • Sunblock
  • Sunglasses
  • Bug repellant
  • Water
  • Fishing mask
  • Long-sleeve fishing shirt

If you’re going on a multi-day fishing trip, this list could grow exponentially as you pack extras materials, food and camping gear (if appropriate).

Obtaining a Fishing License

Nearly every state requires you to get a fishing license before you can go fishing, and most of the time, the license you get in one state is not honored in another state. Therefore, you’ll need to do research before you can go fishing the first time. Find out your state’s requirements. Never assume, always confirm. Doing your research will help you avoid fines and may even prevent you from damaging the environment in the area where you’re fishing.

Why do states require fishing licenses?

In many states, the fees from fishing licenses are applied toward conservation measures, which preserve the environment and support the upkeep of the area.

How can you get your fishing license?

Many states have an online process and an in-person process. Check with your state or local government to find out how to get a fishing license in your area.

Is a fishing license required for catch and release?

Most of the time, a fishing license is required even if you plan to release the fish when you’re done.

Do you need a fishing license if you’re fishing on private property?

Rules vary from one state to another, but many states do not require people to get a fishing license if they plan to fish on private property. However, you may still have to pay a fee.

Registering Your Boat

Not all boats need to be registered with the state where they are being used, but registration requirements vary from one state to another. Do your research to find out whether your boat needs to be registered in the state where you’re using it.

What’s the difference between a title and registration?

Registration lasts for a limited period and must be renewed regularly. A title declares ownership of the boat, and is good for as long as the boat is owned by that person.

How much does registration cost?

Registration costs vary from one state to another.

Do unpowered boats need to be registered?

Check with your local laws. Many states do not require registration of boats without a motor, like kayaks.

Finding a Spot (and Time)

Before you can go fishing, you’ll need to choose a place to fish. Knowing where you’re going makes planning possible. Remember, you’ll need to know the conditions and the weather report in the location where you’re fishing, which is only made possible by actually knowing where you’re going. In addition, many places have different requirements for boating in the area, and may require a special permit as well.

Fish vary from one location to another. If you’re hoping to catch a specific type of fish, choose the location based on the fish you want to catch. If you’ve decided on a location but have not decided on any one kind of fish, you’ll need to find out what fish are available in that location.

The time of year and even time of day when fish can be caught will vary by species. Also variable is the type of bait used to catch the fish, which kind of hook is best, and the fishing methods best for catching the type of fish. Do research in advance about the kind of fish that tend to be available in a particular spot.

Types of Fishing

Different Ways to go Fishing Even if you’re a fishing novice, you’ve probably heard there are different methods of fishing for catching different types of fish. The method you choose may depend on where you’re located, the kind of setting where you like to fish, the type of fish in your area, the person who teaches you to fish, and so on.

You may start by learning one method of fishing only to move on to another method as you become more experienced. All types of fishing involve good timing and patience. Each type requires you to take certain safety precautions.

Rod and Reel Casting

Rod and reel casting is the most basic way to fish. The “rod” refers to any basic fishing rod, like a telescopic fishing rod, while the “reel” is the cylinder the braided fishing line or mono fishing line is wound around.

Rod and reel casting is done by throwing out a line to a location where fish may be swimming and waiting for the fish to take the bait. If the fish do not bite, the fisherman or woman may choose to retract the line and throw it back out again.

Set Up

To set up your rod and reel cast the first time, assemble the rod so the loops on the rod are lined up. Feed the line through the loops on the rod. Some reels have line pre-attached, requiring you to pull the line out of the reel and to the end of the rod. Other reels have no line attached, and you will need to thread the line through the loops and onto the reel. Method of attachment will vary from one reel to another, so read the instructions for your specific reel or watch an online tutorial.

Note: When attaching the line to the rod, never attach a line that will hold more weight than the rod will hold. The line should always break before the rod.

Fishing Knots

There are many different types of fishing knots that can be used to attach the hook to the line. You’ll need to know some basic knots before you can go rod and reel fishing.

Example 1

  1. Thread the line through the eyehole of the hook, then pull out about 8 inches of excess line.
  2. Grip the hook with your forefinger and thumb.
  3. Wrap the excess line three times around your forefinger.
  4. Extract the forefinger from the line.
  5. Thread the end of the line through the remaining finger hole.
  6. Pull the end of the line tight.
  7. Clip off the extra line with your clippers.

Example 2

  1. Thread the line through the eyehole of the hook.
  2. Spin the hook five to ten times, twisting the line.
  3. Turn the end of the line back through the gap at the top of the twist, near the eyehole of the hook.
  4. Pull the end of the line through and tighten it.

Always tighten the knot and pull hard to ensure the knot won’t pull through.

Attach the Hook and Sinker

Once the rod is assembled, it’s time to attach the hook and sinker. Methods may vary.

  1. Attach the hook to the end of the fishing line using one of the knot methods described above.
  2. Clamp a few sinkers onto the line about 8 to 10 inches above the hook.
  3. Attach the bobber using the method below, about 1.5 to 2 feet above the hook.
  4. Attach bait to the hook.

Bobber Attachment

Traditional bobbers are white and red and sphere-like, with a hook at the top and a hook at the bottom. The hooks are embedded into the bobber, and are only revealed when the button at the top is depressed.

  1. Depress the button at the top to reveal the hook inside.
  2. Wrap the line around the hook at the top of the bobber.
  3. Press the button and top hook downward to push the hook out at the bottom of the bobber.
  4. Wrap the line around the bottom hook, then release.

Gear and Materials Needed

In addition to the bait, bobber, hook and sinker, you’ll need a standard rod with a reel. Rods come with different features. Some bend easily while others are stiff. Some rods are heavier while others are lighter. Find out what kind of rod is best for the type of fish you’re hoping to catch.

The reels vary as well, and the type of reel you use will affect the set up. Choose your rod and reel wisely. Spincast is often the easiest to use and the most often selected for beginners.

Process

To cast the fishing line:

  1. Hold the rod with your dominant hand, and place your non-dominant hand on the rod behind it.
  2. Place the index finger of your dominant hand on the fishing line to create resistance.
  3. Let out 8-10 inches of string on the end of the line.
  4. Bring the rod up.
  5. Throw the tip of the rod forward, letting go of the string with your index finger.
  6. Allow the bobber sinker and hook to hit the water.

Once the bobber is floating on the water, wait until a fish bites. You’ll see the bobber go under. Then, reel in the line and get the fish. If the hook comes back with partially eaten bait, this means the fish bit at the bait but did not get attached to the hook. This is what happens when you pull back too early. If you wait too long, the bait may get eaten without catching a fish. Timing is everything when fishing.

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Fly Fishing

Fly fishing has been around for thousands of years. Compared to rod and reel fishing, it is a very different activity. Whereas rod and reel fishing is a sport of silence and long pauses between motions, fly fishing is a sport that requires regular motion throughout the activity. This makes fly fishing good exercise.

Fly fishing rods are long, and the bait itself is often an artificial, lightweight lure. The line used has weight. No bobbers or sinkers are needed to fly fish; it is the weight of the line that drags down the bait. Often, fly fishing is performed in moving water. Watching it from a distance, it looks almost like a dance, with line, arms, and rods constantly in motion.

Gear and Materials

You’ll need the standard personal gear described at the top of this article. In addition, because fly fishing often requires you to wade out into the water, you’ll also need:

  • Boots
  • Waders
  • Fishing vest (for holding gear)
  • Extra warm but breathable socks

Getting Started

Although it’s simple at its core, fly fishing can be a challenge for beginners. The best way to get started fly fishing is to take a course or get help from an experienced guide. A good guide will be able to teach you the fly fishing terminology, the motions and also the art of catching fish.

Perhaps more than other types of fishing, fly fishing requires you to understand the behavior and preferences of the fish. Fly fishing uses artificial flies (bait) to capture fish. The fish will only bite at those things that look like the bait they seek. To catch fish, you’ll need to know what type of bait the fish want, at what times of year, and so on. You’ll need to know how to look for the fish and aim for your target. To learn this and more, you’ll probably need help. Check out classes in your area, or seek help from a local expert.

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Ice Fishing

Done only during winter months, ice fishing is a way of capturing fish even when the lake or pond where you like to catch fish has iced over. It can be rewarding, solitary, thoughtful work, but it can also be incredibly dangerous if the ice is not thick enough.

Anyone who chooses to ice fish must understand the potential dangers and how to protect themselves from a fall through the ice. Most bait shops will know the conditions of the lake or pond, and will tell fishermen and women who ask. You can also tell by using a drill just how thin (or thick) the ice is.

Safety Basics

  • Ice is never 100% safe.
  • Check the status (thickness and strength) of the ice with local guides, bait shops or natural resource authorities before going out to fish.
  • Double check the thickness of the ice with a drill before going out onto the ice.
  • Always bring proper safety gear.
  • Be extra cautious in late winter or early in the spring, when even thick ice is likely to be rotting and warming.
  • Check ice thickness every 150 feet.
  • Park cars at least 50 feet away from each other and move them every two hours.

If you choose to drive a vehicle onto the ice, drill a hole next to the car and watch the hole. When the vehicle starts to sink, water will run over the top of the hole.

Ice Thickness

  • 4 inches will support a person
  • 7 inches will support a snow mobile
  • 12 inches will support a small truck
  • 15 inches will support a medium truck

Safety Gear

Extreme cold conditions can be very dangerous. Carry safety gear to avoid injury or a fall through the ice.

  • Something to check the thickness of the ice (cordless drill, an auger or a chisel)
  • Life preserver
  • Insulated, waterproof winter boots with metal cleats
  • Ice spud
  • Hand spikes
  • Rope with knots or loops on the ends
  • Warm clothes and layers
  • Goggles

The Basics

Once you’ve gathered your materials and you’re on the ice, you can choose to fish in one of two ways. Either way, you’ll need to use your auger to cut a hole in the ice between 6 and 10 inches wide.

  • Rod. Using the rod to dangle the line in the water, you’ll jiggle the bait beneath the surface of the ice until it catches a fish.
  • Trap. Traps are left under the ice, with bait inside, until the fish is caught in the trap. Then, the trap is pulled up.

Resources

Spear Fishing

How to go Spear Fishing Spear fishing is the art of free diving in the water, and hunting fish with a spear gun. If you’re an experienced scuba diver or if you know how to snorkel, then you already have some skills you need to be a spear fisher.

Even if you’ve never been snorkeling or diving, you can still learn to spear fish, provided you have a deep enough body of water, the right kind of equipment, and you know how to swim. If you’re not comfortable in water, you’ll need to build up some of those basics before learning this type of fishing.

Safety Precautions

Practice safety when going out spear fishing. Below are some of the ways you can stay safe while spear fishing. You’ll learn more about spear fishing and safety when you take a class.

  • Never dive alone.
  • Always wait to get a positive identification on a fish before shooting the fish; never shoot something if you’re not sure what it is.
  • Learn first aid and CPR before going spear fishing.
  • Work up to deeper dives; start in shallow waters.
  • Take a class in spear gun safety before using a spear gun for the first time.
  • Watch the weather reports before going out.

The Basics

Like fly fishing, the best way to learn to spear fish is to get a guide or take a class. Diving can be dangerous if you’re not a strong swimmer, and it can be especially dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t have someone with you to help. So start by signing up for a class or getting help from an expert. Other tips:

  • Practice using a spear gun before trying to use it to kill a fish.
  • Aim to kill, avoid any situations that would maim a fish and make it suffer.
  • Start by using a basic spear gun; move up to more advanced guns later.
  • Just like any other type of fishing, you’ll need a fishing license to spear fish.
  • Familiarize yourself with the type of fish that you’re legally allowed to hunt in the area where you’re going fishing; never hunt fish out of season or illegally.

Resources

Bowfishing

Bowfishing is essentially the practice of hunting fish from a boat with a crossbow. Usually, the crossbow arrow is attached to a rope, which allows the fisherman or woman to retrieve the bow and the fish. Bowfishing is a lot more like hunting than it is like fishing, as it takes place out of the water with an instrument very similar to a gun.

Bowfishing is challenging because refraction of light on the water can make aiming very difficult. Most of the time, the fish is swimming lower than the place in the water where they appear to be swimming. The hunter must learn to accommodate for that difference.

Often, bowfishing takes place at night. More fish come out at night, and many hunters appreciate the added level of challenge from hunting in the dark.

The Basics

Standing on a boat, aim for a fish in the water, then shoot. Take a crossbow safety class before trying this type of fishing for yourself, and of course, get your fishing license before hunting. Though the activity resembles hunting more than fishing, you’ll still need a fishing license before getting started.

Start off with daytime bow fishing to get comfortable with the activity. Later on, you can switch to night fishing. Do your best to sneak up on the fish, as sudden movements or fast-moving boats can frighten fish away.

Best Places to Do It

Experienced bow fishers will get used to monitoring conditions that lead to better fishing. Nights with a high, bright moon can make fish skittish, as can clear water. Muddy water and low-light conditions are best for catching fish.

Smooth water is best for bowfishing, because choppy waters make it harder to pinpoint the exact location of the fish. Bow fishermen must stay moving in order to get the best chance with the fish, as fish will become frightened and swim away when they’re attacked.

On evenings when fish are not biting, or in areas where fish seem inactive, chumming the water can sometimes attract fish.

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Trolling

Trolling is done by attaching a fishing rod and line to the back of a boat, and then dragging bait through the water until the bait attracts a fish. When trolling, many people use multiple fishing rods and lines to attract multiple fish at once.

For someone who doesn’t know, trolling may sound like an unskilled hobby, but just like any other kind of fishing, successful trolling requires you to use prior knowledge, skill and understanding of fish behavior. You’ll also need to have a good grasp the tools. Trolling can get very technical, because it requires use of a boat. Many fishermen or women will also use GPS and other types of tools to catch what they want.

Materials and Gear

  • Fishing rods
  • Fishing line
  • Saltwater reel
  • Rod holders
  • Depth rigs (a very heavy sinker)
  • Paravane (helps drag your line deeper)
  • Planer board (prevents the lines from becoming tangled)
  • Sonar (to help find the fish and take readings of what’s going on in the water)

When choosing your fishing line, remember trolling is typically done out in the open ocean and will catch large, heavy fish. Choose your line accordingly.

The Basics

Set up and planning is important in trolling. Before going out to fish, plan your trip. Know where you’ll drive in the boat, what you’re trying to attract, and what that fish is biting this time of year. Buy lures accordingly if you don’t already have lures. When selecting a lure, choose one that is very visible and easy to see. You’ll be driving by quickly, so your lures will have to attract a lot of attention.

When you get out on the boat, use your sonar to check for presence of fish. You may need to adjust your plan once you get out onto the water; use your tools to determine the best route if the route you’ve selected seems empty.

When you catch a fish, keep the boat moving forward while you reel in the fish. The lines out the back of the boat will rely on forward momentum to stay straight and untangled. When there’s a fish in the line, they’re even more likely to become tangled. Reel in the fish while you’re in movement to avoid problems.

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Noodling and Hand Gathering

Hand gathering is the practice of catching fish by hand in the environment where the fish naturally lives. Fish can be hand-gathered from the beach, deep in the ocean and in rivers.

Noodling is a type of hand gathering. Noodling is a method of catching catfish. This happens in spring and summer, when catfish are guarding their eggs. It’s at this time catfish lie in nests to stay near their spawn. While in nests, catfish are nearly impossible to catch, because they can’t lured away and don’t usually see the bait anyway.

To noodle, the fisherman or woman dives down into the water, finds a catfish nest, then reaches out and pulls the catfish out by its lower jaw.

Legality

Noodling is not legal in many states. If you’re interested in noodling, find out whether it’s legal where you live. This activity is primarily only legal in the south. Many states have outlawed noodling because the activity leaves the eggs vulnerable and can hurt catfish populations.

Safety

Catfish will bite, so anyone who goes noodling should be prepared for a little pain and potentially a little blood to be drawn. Wear gloves during the process to protect yourself, and never noodle by yourself.

In addition, noodling involves sticking your hand into a hole in murky water. Catfish are not the only animals in the water that might bite. This activity is a team effort and should always be done with help.

The Basics

Noodling is as basic as it sounds. Slip under the water, find a catfish nest and stick your hand inside to grab the fish by its lower jaw. Taking the fish by the gills will likely kill it, so take care to take the fish by its mouth if you have no wish to kill it.

Just like many other forms of fishing, the best way to learn is from someone who is experienced and who has a good instinct for finding fish. Your guide can teach you to find nests and how to reach inside to pull out a fish.

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Traps

Trapping is a way of catching fish and requires little time spent fishing. Well-laid traps can catch fish quickly and easily, and without anyone being present. A good trap will not harm a fish, and will allow under-sized fish to escape, so when the trap is checked, the fish inside will be the fish you intended to catch, and will still be alive.

Portable Traps

Portable traps are generally hand-held devices, and they can be moved from one location to another. Portable traps can be used to catch different kinds of fish and may be removed from the water when no fish are needed. These traps are good for people who want to catch fish occasionally, but who have not made catching fish a livelihood.

Fixed and Semi-Fixed Traps

Fixed and semi-fixed traps are built into the landscape and are generally considered not portable. Fixed and semi-fixed traps often continue to work even when they’re not being checked. People who install fixed and semi-fixed traps usually do so with the intent to return to the traps daily or regularly, and remove fish for a business or for their own subsistence.

Legality

Check with your state before using traps in your area to ensure the traps you choose are appropriate and legal. When laying traps, take care to note their location. Always come back for your traps, as fish may be caught inside and unable to get out.

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Netting

Netting is a type of fishing done with nets and rods together. The fish is caught on the rod and swims beside the boat until it is tired. Once the fish is ready, the net is dipped into the water, then brought up with the fish inside.

Netting is actually more complicated than it sounds, requiring the fisherman or woman to understand the behavior of fish. Netting is easiest when people work in teams, but some experienced people may be able to net on their own, with one hand controlling the rod and the other controlling the net.

Materials and Gear

To properly net a fish, you’ll need a large net with a long-handled pole, a fishing rod, all the standard rod and reel equipment, a boat and hopefully some friends to help you with the process.

Mistakes to Avoid

Netting is done by inserting the net into the water and catching the fish when it is near the surface. You’ll need a partner to help you either hold the rod or slide the net beneath the fish.

When using the net to catch the fish, prevent the net from getting tangled by holding the excess net against the handle with your hand. When the fish slides into the net, let go of the excess net and allow the fish to fall farther down into it.

Don’t try to capture the fish early. Wait until the fish is tired. If you try to net the fish before it’s tired, the fish is likely to escape the net. You’ll be able to tell the fish is tired by watching its body language. The best time is when the fish is flopping on its side.

Never come at a fish from behind. Fish cannot swim backward, they can only swim forward. Capture the fish by coming at it from the front, allowing the fish to swim straight into the net. If you try to capture the fish from behind, you’re likely to lose the fish.

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Cooking Fish

How to Cook Fish After Catching Not everyone is interested in cooking their catch, but if you are, there are many ways you can prepare your delectable fish meal at home. The type of cooking you choose should depend on your tastes, ingredients you have on hand, your skill level in the kitchen and also health factors. Fish is overall a relatively healthy meat, but if you’re concerned about your health, you’ll want to avoid certain types of cooking.

Cleaning and Preparation

Before you can cook your fish, you’ll need to clean and prep the fish, and before you can do that, you’ll need to store it properly.

Keeping It Fresh

Keep your fish fresh in a cooler full of ice. There are many types of coolers useful for keeping fish fresh. Whatever product you choose, use a cooler to keep items cold for as long as you plan to be out fishing. The longer your fishing trip, the higher quality cooler you’ll need. Put the fish on a stringer so they’ll be easy to pull out of the cooler all at once. Once you’re home, cook the fish as soon as possible, or freeze it in a freezer bag.

Materials You’ll Need

  • Scaling tool
  • Fillet knife
  • Bucket or bowl for discarded parts
  • Plastic bags for storing the fish

Scaling

To scale the fish, grip the fish by the head, laying it on a table or a wooden block. Use the scaling tool to scrape scales off the fish. Draw the tool from tail to head in short scraping motions to remove the scales. Discard old scales in the bucket or bowl.

Some fish have spiky fins, so be careful when handling the body. In some cases, it may be helpful to wear a pair of clean, thick gloves.

Skinning

Skinning is only necessary in some kinds of fish, like catfish, because these fish have thick skin instead of scales. To skin the fish, use the fillet knife to remove the spine. Cut along the head and down the body. Then, grab hold of the skin and pull down.

Cleaning

Insert the knife into the anus, then push it out toward the head, stopping near the gills. Use the knife to clean out the cavity, then reach in to pull out the guts inside the fish. Remove all entrails, including the kidney. Remove the darkened inner membrane if the fish has one. You can also cut off the head.

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Frying

Though not the healthiest way to prepare fish, frying is delicious. If you have a history of heart disease, baking is a better way of preparing your fish. Check out the recipe below.

Standard Frying

Ingredients:

  • Fish fillets
  • Flour
  • Egg
  • Seasoned bread crumbs
  • Cooking oil

Steps:

  1. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a cooking pan.
  2. Dredge the fillet in flour, then in egg mixed with water, then in seasoned bread crumbs.
  3. Place the fillet in the cooking oil and allow the fish to cook for about five minutes, browning the breadcrumbs.
  4. Flip the fish over and cook on the other side until the breadcrumbs are brown, about five minutes.
  5. Remove the fillet from the pan and place it on a plate with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

How to Deep Fry

Batter Ingredients:

  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Steps:

  1. Fill an electric kettle or dutch oven halfway with canola oil and heat it to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together the batter while the oil is heating.
  3. Dredge the fillet through the batter.
  4. Dip the fillet into the oil when it reaches the correct temperature, and allow it to cook for 4 minutes.
  5. Remove the fillet from the oil and place it on a plate with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

Safety Precautions

Frying, especially deep frying, can be dangerous. Oil that is highly heated will begin to smoke. The temperature at which oil will begin to smoke is called the smoke point. If it continues to heat, it will begin to burn. This is called the flash point.

  • Before deep frying anything, find out the flash point temperature for your cooking oil.
  • If the oil begins to smoke, turn off the heat immediately.
  • If the oil ignites, put the lid on the container to stop the fire.
  • Use a fire extinguisher, not water, on flames.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher and the lid for your deep fryer container on hand while cooking.

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Grilling

Grilled fish is delicious, and the experience of grilling fish can be fun and relaxing. Grilling is the perfect activity for a summer afternoon, but you can grill fish all year round, provided the weather does not inhibit you.

Preparation

Wet fish will not sear on the grill, which can cut back on the smoky grilled flavor and perfectly crisp edges. To remove excess moisture from the fish, wrap fillets in paper towels and place them in the refrigerator until the grill is properly heated.

To heat the grill, turn it on or start your charcoal. Lay aluminum foil on the grill grate (shiny side up) to trap heat inside the grill. After the grill has been going for about 10 minutes, remove the foil and use a wire brush to remove any food or debris off the grate.

When the grill is ready, use a basting brush to cover the fillet in olive oil, then rub cracked salt and pepper into the skin of the fish.

Cooking

Lay the fish down on the grill, skin side down. Lay the fillet down at an angle to the lines of the grill. Allow the fillet to lay on the grill for two minutes, then flip it. Allow the fillet to grill for another 3 to 7 minutes. Remove the fish when the internal temperature of the fish is about 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Skin On Vs. Skin Off

The grilling procedure for a fish fillet with skin is very much the same as cooking a fish fillet without skin. Both fish need to be cooked to the same internal temperature. The biggest difference is the skin should be cooked first, if the fillet has skin.

Resources

Baking

Baking is one of the healthiest ways to prepare fish, because it requires no use of cooking oil. It’s also easy to prepare fish in advance, so you can pop the fish in the oven after coming home from work.

Preparation and Materials

  • If frozen, thaw the fish before cooking to ensure the fish bakes evenly.
  • Cover the fish fillet in your preferred marinade.
  • Tuck the edges of the fish under, if they are especially thin, to prevent them from burning.

Don’t have a favorite marinade? Try mixing up salt, pepper, lemon juice, paprika and butter. Play with the proportions to get the right mixture of salty and tangy.

How to Bake

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 to 20 minutes. As a safety precaution, never bake fish (or any other dish) unmonitored.

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Poaching

You can think of poaching as the healthy alternative to frying. If you like fried fish but need to watch your weight or heart health, this is an excellent option for you.

What is Poaching?

Poaching is the process of cooking fish in a simmering liquid. Usually the liquid is a clear broth and something acidic, like white wine or lemon juice.

Which Fish are Best for Poaching

All fish can be poached, but the best fish are ones with the most flavor. Some of the best fish for poaching include:

  • Barramundi
  • Mahi mahi
  • Salmon
  • Dover sole
  • Arctic char
  • Turbot
  • Halibut
  • Tuna
  • Sturgeon
  • Striped bass

How to Poach Fish

Put the fish in a saucepan with the liquid and herbs of your choice. You can also throw in some flavorful vegetables like onions or celery. Put the lid on the fish, turn on the heat and bring the liquid to a simmer. Allow the fish to cook for ten minutes. When the center of the fish has turned opaque and the fish is flaky, it’s done cooking.

Fish fall apart easily after being poached. Fish steaks hold up better than fish fillets. If you’re cooking an especially delicate variety of fish, wrap it in cheese cloth before poaching.

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How to Store Fish

When bringing fish back from the site where you caught them, always keep fish on ice. Use an insulated cooler. Some say ice water spoils the flavor of fish, so if possible, use a cooler to separate the ice from the water, or use a cooler with a drain.

Refrigerated Fish

Your fish can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. Some fish can be stored in the fridge for longer than other types of fish. Large fish and lean fish fare better than small fish and fatty fish. If you have no plans to eat your fish in two days or less, store them in your freezer. When putting fish in the fridge, wash and dry your fish and store it in aluminum foil or wax paper.

Freezer Fish

Fish can last in the freezer up to a year, but they must be stored properly or their flavor can be impacted.

Alternatively, you may also freeze the fish in a block of ice and store the fish that way. To thaw frozen fish, place the fish in the refrigerator overnight.

Good Luck With the Fish!

Getting Good at Catching and Cooking Fish You can succeed at fishing if you follow the right steps and use the right materials. If you’re entirely new to the activity, you can benefit from having a guide or a teacher. This is especially true if you’re trying a complex or unusual form of fishing, like spear fishing, fly fishing, or noodling. Practice makes perfect, so whatever kind of fishing you decide to take on, keep up with the habit until you start to get good results.

Remember to always clean and store your fish properly. Find out what the fishing laws are in the state where you live, and follow the laws carefully. Don’t forget to obtain and carry your fishing license. Never hunt fish out of season.

You have choices when it comes to cooking your fish. Try different types of cooking for different occasions. Once you find a recipe you like, write down the recipe so you can replicate it later.

Most of all, remember to have fun. Fishing is an ancient sport people have been enjoying for thousands of years. By participating in fishing, you’re participating in a long tradition, which brings you closer to nature and closer to your food.