It’s not unusual that I get strange looks when I tell people that I don’t eat fish. ‘How can someone who fishes so much not eat any?’ they ask. I don’t have a single good answer for a question like that. My father taught me conservation; not necessarily catch and release but selective harvest. Keep only what you intend to eat, nothing more. Fish on the dinner plate, not in the freezer. The truth is I really can’t be bothered. Filleting fish is more work than my lazy nature allows for a single meal.
There are times when catching, filleting and cooking fish is all part of the fishing experience, so when I say that I don’t eat fish that’s not entirely true. An annual walleye fishing weekend is one of the exceptions. A tradition for more years than I can really remember, the weekend always ends with a Sunday fish fry that results in the consumption of multiple pounds of bacon and fresh walleye fillets.
We stand around, more often than not in the rain, eating the fresh fillets directly out of the tin pans they were frying in and washing them down with a cold beer, talking about the action, or lack thereof, of the past couple of day and nights. The discussion often strays to past years and how the fishing has changed, for better or worse, and how it will continue to change. As we eat we reminisce and share old stories, stories we’ve all heard over and over again yet never seem to lose their luster. We listen intently as if it were the first time the tale was told, all the while reaping the benefits of our time on the water with a delicious feast.
So maybe it shouldn’t be a question of whether or not I eat fish. Do I fish to eat? No. Will I keep some fish for a quick meal? Not really, no. Am I opposed to eating fish? Absolutely not. Whether it’s a simple shore lunch to break up a long day on the water, or a weekend ending fish fry to celebrate our success, if it enhances my time on the water, I’m all for it.