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Ahhhhh! It's summertime or almost summer anyway. The weather has been weird and I won't use it to explain why the fish aren't biting or why I'm not catching any. I hear the bluegill are getting ready to go on their beds as soon as the water warms up a might. I hope that all the children, that received the 'free' fishin' poles The Waynedale News gave out, will be using them and send in the 'monster bluegill' pictures to us for publication. Also teach your children how to catch, cook, and eat their catch.

My parents, being from the 'went through the depression' school of thrift and thought, never filleted bluegill. They considered this way to be a waste of good fish. They scaled them, gutted them, cut off the heads and fried them whole. They would then sit at the table and pick the meat off the bones. I never liked bluegill fixed this way; I always got a bone in my throat. I learned to hate bluegill when I was growing up. An ex-cop taught me to fillet my catch, even the small ones. I learned that bluegill fillets are delicious and best of all, there are very few bones to deal with.

I know I should reserve these recipes for my Kampfire Kookin' column but I just couldn't resist telling you about my three favorite ways of fixin' bluegill fillets. If you don't like bluegill after trying these then just drop off all your cleaned fillets to me and I'll enjoy them.

Scale and fillet your bluegills (size doesn't matter – fillet them all, even the little ones but leave the skin on). Rinse off the fillets in salted water and drain.

1st – RAY'S REGULAR FRIED BLUEGILL – mix together: flour, salt, pepper, and paprika (amount of each will depend on your taste). Dredge the drained fillets in the mixture. Brown one side of the coated fillets in a little olive oil over medium heat; turn and brown the other side. Drain and serve with tartar sauce.

2nd – RAY'S Battered Bluegill – Mix up your favorite pancake batter. Dip each drained fillet in batter and deep fry in olive oil over medium heat until they are done. They will puff up. Taste-test a few to make sure they are done and to let yourself know approximately how long to deep fry them. Drain and serve with your favorite 'go with' sauce, catsup, honey mustard, or tartar sauce.

3rd – RAY'S MOCK SHRIMP - Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Put a strainer basket into the pot. Drop in several bluegill fillets (leave skin on remember?). Cook for about a minute, lift basket, and plunge basket (with the fillets) into a bowl of ice water (to stop the cooking process). Drain the cold fillets and set aside. Cook the rest of the fillets the same way. The fillets will curl up with the skin side inside. The cooked chilled fillets will look like cooked shrimp. Dip in shrimp cocktail sauce and enjoy. Drop us a line and let us know how you enjoyed your bluegill – cooked Ray's Way.

 

FREE FISHING WEEKEND

Indiana's Free Fishing Weekend is June 8-9, 2002. Load up the car with friends, family and fishing poles this June 8-9 and enjoy a free weekend of fishing. Indiana resident adults do not need a fishing license to fish on public waters during Free Fishing Weekend. Children under the age of 17 and seniors over the age of 65 do not need a license at any time. It is advised that you carry identification proving you are under 17 or over 65. Many parks, reservoirs, fish and wildlife areas and public forests will host Free Fishing Weekend events, such as fishing derbies, clinics and fish cleaning and cooking classes.

Some locations in the Waynedale area hosting events this year are: - Chain O' Lakes State Park, Albion, 260-636-2654- Elkhart County's Oxbow County Park, 219-535-6458- Huntington Lake SRA, Huntington, 260-468-2165- Ouabache State Park, Bluffton 260-824-0926- Potato Creek State Park, North Liberty, 574-656-8186- Salamonie Lake, Andrews, 260-468-2124DNR property information: http://www.IN.gov/dnr

Although no license is needed during Free Fishing Weekend, all other fishing regulations are still in effect. Individuals who need reasonable modifications for effective participation in Free Fishing Weekend events should contact the property at least 72 hours before the event. Or, call the Division of Fish and Wildlife ADA Coordinator at 317-232-4080.


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