Published July 15, 2012, 12:00 AM

VIDEO: Fresh walleye shore lunch a fishing trip favorite

There’s something about fresh walleye that tastes better when it’s surrounded by a lake. No wonder, then, that the traditional shore lunch — fried fish, spuds and onions and beans — is one of the most popular parts of a guided fishing trip for many anglers.

By: Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald

LAKE OF THE WOODS, Ont. — Scott Edman’s not a math teacher, but by his calculations, he’s prepared at least 1,500 shore lunches in the past 25 years.

There’s something about fresh walleye that tastes better when it’s surrounded by a lake, after all. No wonder, then, that the traditional shore lunch — fried fish, spuds and onions and beans — is one of the most popular parts of a guided fishing trip for many anglers.

“I think it’s just a tradition that happens with fishing in the North Woods, and it’s kind of an expected thing,” said Edman, a Grand Forks middle school teacher who operates Angling Adventures Guiding Service on the Northwest Angle with his brother, Allen, also of Grand Forks. “People know you’re getting guided on Lake of the Woods in Canada, and probably the second question they ask is ‘How was the shore lunch?’”

The first question, of course, is obvious to anyone who fishes.

To ensure the answer to the second question is “excellent” or “tasty,” Edman says it’s essential the oil be hot enough. He fries his fish in a well-seasoned cast-iron frying pan using canola oil that’s heated to about 375 degrees on a propane burner.

If the oil’s not hot enough, Edman says, the fish absorbs the oil instead of getting seared from the outside and steamed on the inside. Instead of crisp, the fillets are mushy and greasy.

“If you do it right, your fish really shouldn’t have that much oil in it when you’re done,” Edman says. He often tests the oil by tossing a wooden farmer’s match into the frying pan.

“If it light up pretty quick, you know you’re ready,” Edman said. “It’s kind of a neat trick.”

Edman says he and his brother, a middle school teacher in East Grand Forks, vary their shore lunch coatings, mixing different spices with cornmeal, which gives the fillets a crispier texture.

They also vary their preparation with the occasional beer batter or, for the more calorie-conscious, grilling the fish and serving wild rice instead of fried potatoes.

The traditional shore lunch remains a favorite, though, Edman says.

“Everybody wants fried for at least one day,” he said. “They’ve got to go with the traditional shore lunch and then mix it up after that.”

Even after some 1,500 shore lunches, Edman says he’s not one of those guides who eat sandwiches because they’re tired of fish.

“I eat it every day, and it’s still one of my favorite meals,” he said. “For people who don’t get it all the time, I can only imagine how good it is for them.”

Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1148; or send email to bdokken@gfherald.com.

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