Fishing in Public

By "Tackle Box" Billy Kelley

The post-Shake ‘n Bake era

Hey, folks. I’m actually writing this from Courtroom 7, Superior Court, and it’s hard to concentrate, so forgive my omissions. Why am I here? Well, after a couple of serious tragedies, I took time off and didn’t see my boss (Chris) ’til late in the month, at which time he wants me to do an article again. I already had something else in mind, but I kind of hafto do what he suggests — after all, he is kind of the boss. (We’ll definitely be talking about creative differences down the road.)

But anyways, I’m in a hurry — he’s given me about two days to get this out. And what this is is how to cook all the fish you’ve caught. I guess it does kind of make sense after all, and like I say, he’s the boss (boo!). And like all us great fishermen, I’m at my supreme best under pressure. You know, like you ever pulled a hook out of a little girl’s ear? So let’s get on with this with no further delay.

First off, I can’t spell boulubase, so let’s get on the same track here. No Four Seasons stuff. And I’m going to assume you can do simple things (like crack eggs). Yeah, no Julia Child shit here. 

So first, what have you caught? You either have a small mackerel (tinker), a large mack (horse), or maybe you’ve grand-prized a striper. 

Now mackerel. Small macks need nothing. In the great ole days of trestle fishing, we’d take those little babes, put ’em on a piece of wood and heat ’em right over a fire on shore. Wash ’em down with our favorite beverages and voila! — you’ve got a pure delicacy. My own record is 30 in one afternoon. Bon appetite! (At least I can include French words in lieu of cooking French.)

So how easy was that? Oh, I know you can’t have campfires down the waterfront, but to barbeque will suffice. 

Now, things are different with a horse mack. There’s a dramatic change of taste in size, so you need to do things different, which can vary according to your particular taste. My friend Debby and a lot of others just like the old fashion way: dip ’em in milk and egg, roll ’em in flour and fry away with their favorite spices. Hers happen to be salt, pepper and garlic — garlic being tasty, and definitely a good witch-preventative. 

Do you follow my track yet? Simple is good. My own particular take on this (which is, of course, the best) is there are two eras in history: pre-Shake ’n Bake and post-Shake ’n Bake. Thankfully, we’re post-. Christ, how simple is this? Put ’em in a bag, then bake. You can even add whatever spice with the mix and bake ’em up. Bonjur! Bonjur! 

Now the piesta ristance: you got a striper! This needs care and attention. You’re talking hitting Megabucks. In my worldwide (well, maybe just nationwide) experience, stripers are as yummy as any fish I’ve ever ate. However, the better the product, the more the work, we always say. Because you not only have to clean ’em, you’ve got to scale ’em, which I can’t explain how to right now. I’ve not the time or space, and these bailiffs are starting to give me odd looks (I don’t resemble anybody that looks legal). 

But do take your time with striped bass. They’re very much worth making a nice, tasty stuffing, broiling, and making a nice dinner out of. Do not overcook! They cook fast, maybe 3-5 minutes a side. You’ll see what I mean when you develop a little expertise. My ex-woman did ’em great — she’d marinate ’em in a sauce with, believe it or not, some 1,000 Island and Italian salad dressing and they came out great. Try it. 

Now I’m really flying fast, but let me add three things. Clean your fish well! They all carry parasites, so wash them well. 

Second thing: if you happen to be pals with a lady of Asian descent, put her in charge. I’ll tell you, they can cook a fish to die for. If you’ve no Asian friends, make one. 

Now, speaking of Asians, they taught me the best part of a fish: their heads. A gourmet’s gourmet treat. The eyes, brains and jowls of any fish are by far the most enjoyable. I don’t expect most of you to try it, but now it’s like I give the bodies away and eat the heads exclusively. Don’t be afraid to try something for the first time. 

Now even the D.A. is eyeing me quizzically. I must be off. Mercie, my compadres!                   

Leave a Reply