A handsome heritage strain brook trout from Horn Lake is readied for release back to the water, in order to fight another day. Note the usual white outline on all of the fins, including the dorsal.
This coming weekend, I’ll be heading back down to Newcomb to attend the final offering in the “Got Game” lecture series.
If the snow holds up, I may attempt to squeeze in one last ski trip of the season. However, if the weather turns warmer, I may just trade in my ski poles, and grab a fishing pole.
There is still over a foot of ice on the ponds, and a dense snowpack in the hills, but it will all melt off quickly with a few sunny days, some heavy rains and a stiff wind.
For those that must fish, many local lakes and pond are already showing plenty of open water around the inlets and outlets.
April’s Full Moon, which is scheduled to arrive on the 25th, will prompt the annual smelt run. Even if the ice remains in command of the lakes and ponds, anglers will find opportunities around inlets and feeder streams as smelt and later suckers return to spawn in the streams.
Currently Newcombites, Minervaphiles and Long Lakers are all celebrating the success of the locally produced video production that recently went viral, and well beyond the town limits.
Eventually the video, which featured a serious spoof of the dilapidated condition of the local highway infrastructure, made it all the way down the line to the not-so-hallowed halls of the government chambers in Albany.
Although nearly 69,000 acres of local state land may soon be opening to the public, it appeared to many that State Route 28N was going to retain the title as: “The wildest ride in town.” But then came the video.
Upon its arrival, politicians of all sorts took notice, and soon there were promises of an extensive and expensive project to complete a major refurbishment of Route 28N from Minerva to Long Lake.
Readers can find the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuv0_cP-0yU&feature=youtu.be
For everyone’s sake, I hope the politicians remain true to their word!
The last Got Game event of the season will focus on game cooking, and it will be hosted by the fireside in the historic Huntington Lodge Trophy Room on Saturday, April 13 from 3 -5 p.m. Please register in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information contact Paul Hai at email@example.com or 518-582-4551 ext 104.
The “Got Game Cooking” is a timely topic, as many hunters are currently getting to the bottom of the freezer, and struggling with how to prepare the last few cuts of venison left in their freezers.
It is also a good time to learn some new recipes for cooking fresh brook trout, which will soon become a popular table fare in many local households, directly after ice out.
The price of admission, (only $5) will get you a bowl of rabbit chili, venison stew, and a beer or other cold beverage. Participants are also encouraged to provide a game dish to share if they like.
I plan to bring along a crock pot of cranberried venison, which has become one of my favorite ways to prepare the last few bags of meat in the freezer. After simmering in a crock pot for 16 hours, even the ‘chewy-newy’ twitching muscles of a whitetail are as tender as a filet mignon.
In addition to the venison dish, I hope to have a few snacks of “maple smoked trout,” if I can procure a few brookies in time.
The beginning of trout season typically coincides with the annual sugaring season, and there is no better way to prepare fresh brookies than to soak them in a maple syrup brine, and smoke the fillets over the coals of a smoldering tag alder fire.
Although a proper brine is very important, the process is never complete without an adequate supply of fresh cut tag alders. I soak the alder pieces overnight and place the small chunks directly on top of hardwood, charcoal briquettes. Do not let the alder pieces catch flame.
This recipe calls for brook trout, however it works quite well with perch or any fish fillet, as well as turkey, venison, or other game. It’s an old favorite for making “trout candy.”
Keys to a good product are in the brine and in the choice of smoking wood. I prefer to use green, tag alder or apple, both species of which are readily available in the spring. One along the streams, the other when pruned in the local orchards.
Soak the cut wood overnight to prevent it from catching fire in the smoker. Promptly remove any pieces that begin to flame
For the brine mix: Based on 4-6 pounds of fish -adjust accordingly.
• 2-4 gallons of water with 1-3 pounds of Kosher salt
• Add 1 quart of pure maple syrup, or 1 cup brown sugar.
• 1 1/2 cups of fresh squeezed lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons of liquid/squeezed garlic; powder doesn’t dissolve well
• 2 tablespoons of liquid/squeezed onion; powder doesn’t dissolve well
• 1 tablespoon crushed black pepper
• 4-6 large Bay leaves(whole)
Bring the whole mix to a roaring boil and let it cool “completely” before adding fish fillets.
Prepare fillets with skin intact, the thinner the fillets, the dryer the meat. Do not place fillets into brine mix until after it has cooled completely. Put the fillets in the mix and store in a refrigerator for 24 hours, covered.
Remove fillets, and place on racks to let them air dry completely before smoking, usually 2-3 hours. Drying properly will allow the formation of a glaze that will serve to seal in moisture so the smoked fish will not be too dry.
Smoke the fillets over a low heat, with no flames, according to weight.
1-1 1/2 lb = 30 minutes
1 1/2-3 lb = 1-1/2 hr.
3-5 lb = 2 1/2- 3 hr.
Fillets will develop a nice bronze color and will be firm to the touch, but not dry. Do not overcook. Remove from heat and let cool on racks in open air. And try not to eat the entire batch at one sitting.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.