So lately I have been fishing the Coosa River a lot, mainly chasing after striped bass(Morone saxatilis). While I haven’t caught any big striper yet, I have been fortunate enough to get some good eater-sized striped bass lately. Let me preface this by saying there is a healthy spawning population of freshwater striper in the Coosa River, and in the state of Georgia, there is no minimum size limit for striper. Actually, there is an upper slot limit for the state where only 2 fish of the 15 fish limit can be over 22 inches in length, the rest have to be under 22 inches. So you East Coast striper guys don’t come after me eating this guy.
Now that’s out of the way, Striped bass are an anadromous species originally from the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico that swims up coastal rivers to spawn. But due to human introduction, they are actually widespread all over the United States, with there being a population in the Pacific Ocean. Along with that they are commonly stocked and spawn in fully freshwater environments, having fully adapted to living in freshwater. They are well known for their ability to fight along with being capable of reaching over 70 pounds. As table fare they are considered a high quality fish by many and this has actually brought up concerns of overfishing in both the recreational and commercial sectors in the Atlantic Ocean.
I was fishing for these guys with live gizzard shad and threadfin shad over at the Coosa River Lock and Dam. The rig is simple just a kahle hook under a bobber with a small split shot on a 15 lb test fluoro leader to keep the shad down deep. I’ll cover the striper fishing in more detail another day though. I will show you how to blacken some fish today for a nice lunch or dinner.
Cook your Catch on AllOutdoor
Ok, this part is pretty easy were going to do the usual fillet job on the striped bass. If you can bleed and gut the fish as soon as possible, its easier to do on the boat or at the boat ramp. Just be aware of any local rules and regulations about this, it should be fine in most places but you never know.
Do the usual of taking the head off the fish by cutting at an angle behind the collars to just behind the pelvic fin. You don’t need to scale the fish for this preparation because we are going to skin this fish at a later step.
Score along the back of the fish along the center line, apply a little pressure to have pull the fillet off the backbone as you cut.
Just carefully trace along the bones till you reach the spine of the fish, then follow the contours. Make sure not to cut too deep as you go over the spine, you can easily cut into the bottom half of the fillet.
You can either follow along the rib cage, cut around the rib cage, or just push through the rib cage with a fish this small. The belly portion is going to be thin and it might not be worth your time to save the piece. Whichever way you chose you need to cut through the pin bones but well remove those later. I chose to just cut through the ribs and take them out later.
Once you get both fillets off the bones, toss the frame and head and skin the fillet. Start at the tail with your skinning or filleting knife and slice forwards. Keep the knife as flat as possible to the cutting board. The scales will help you from pushing through the skin but they won’t stop it completely is press down too much, keep the knife angle very shallow. Now you can cut along the midline on both sides to cut out the pin bones and then remove the ribcage if you haven’t already. Now the striped bass fillets are ready, clean off any scales on the meat and then wrap in paper towels and put them away in the fridge till it’s time to cook.
Cook your Catch – Blackened Coosa River Striped Bass
Blackened Striped Bass Ingredients
- Blackening Seasoning (Pre Made or Homemade)
- Fish Fillets
Ok so I moved recently and lost my blackening seasoning during the move it seems, so I had to make a blend. I’m not saying it is accurate but it will work. I recommend you buy some but I was short on time and couldn’t run to the store. I used the Tony’s as a base then added in a bit of the garlic powder, cayenne, old bay, Italian seasoning, thyme, and fresh cracked pepper. I would add some paprika next time as well, but again I was short on time.
Pull out whatever protein you’re going to be blackening and sprinkle the seasoning evenly across. Then rub the seasoning into the fillets and let them sit. I also was blackening some shrimp so sprinkled those and then tossed them around as well. If you want to cook the cajun pasta as well, start boiling well-salted water now. Then add the penne before you head outside to cook the fish.
If you’re going to blacken anything, you want to do it outside. Unless you have a commercial quality vent hood in your kitchen you’re going to smoke out your house. I used a little portable butane stove, but recommend something with a bit more BTUs if you can. Also, I recommend cast iron instead of a non-stick but I had to make due. Add a bit of butter into the hot pan along with a little oil till the butter starts to brown.
Once the butter is browned a bit add the fillets and just let them cook. It’ll smoke a bit, you’re only going to flip the fish once. I will be honest with yall and say the pan just wasn’t getting hot enough. If I had my cast iron it would have been fine due to the thermal mass but if you’re using a nonstick or a stainless steel pan you need a stronger burner.
If done right you want a slight char to the seasoning on the fish, once you see two-thirds of the fillet go opaque give the fish a flip and finish it off.
Frying up the shrimp the same way, again only one flip.
Quick Cajun Pasta Ingredients
- Penne Pasta
- Blackening Seasoning
- Parmesan Cheese
Have the penne al-dente before you start this, add butter to the pan along with some seasoning to let it toast in the butter. I just reused the pan for extra flavor after cooking the fish and shrimp in it due to the fond not being too burnt in it.
Add a bit of the pasta water into the pan along with some grated parmesan to start the sauce.
Add your cooked penne to the pan and toss to incorporate
Season to taste, and it is ready to eat. Serve with some extra grated parmesan along with the fish.