From a young age, the one summertime activity that I distinctly remember anticipating was getting out and fishing for rainbow trout. Lucky enough to grow up right on the lake, we would spend many mornings and evenings out in the old Lund, dragging a willow leaf or Ford Fender along with a big wriggly worm.
Those little trips out on the water weren’t about tying into a big lunker – it was about being out with our little family, trying to decipher whether there was a feisty rainbow on the end of the line or if it was just my dad, pulling a fast one on us by tugging on the line when we weren’t looking.
Rainbow trout are the fish that sparked my love of fishing, and it has been a love affair that has grown year after year. While we may do some bigger adventures now, like targeting big lake trout and trolling for chinook salmon on the ocean, getting out on the lake in our little 12-foot boat is still arguably one of my favourite parts of the summer.
Typically, our catch gets turned into smoked or canned fish; while I do love the taste of pan-fried rainbows, I normally cannot stand picking all the little bones out of the meat. For the last several summers though, we have kept saying to ourselves that we must try cooking a couple of fresh trout fillets on sticks over the campfire.
Fire bans set early in the season have tended to thwart our campfire trout-cooking plans, but a very wet spring this year meant that we were finally able to line up prime trout this fishing season with a nice fire and a bed of coals for cooking.
The thing that I love about cooking with good, fresh ingredients is that you don’t really have to do anything fancy to it – sure, you could marinade the fillets in a brine or season them with all sorts of herbs and spices, but you truly don’t need to overcomplicate things. Maybe a pinch of salt and pepper, but the campfire smoke will impart a subtle flavour all on its own.
Cooking up a fresh-caught rainbow trout over the fire (if local fire regulations permit!) should be on everyone’s bucket list for the summer.