Help me out, thanks guys.
Help me out, thanks guys.
If you're taking <5lb cats - I'd think you can get some nice fillets, and they should cook up just fine. Depends on how you like to prep 'em too.
Don't know if you smoke fish, or like smoked fish - but if you ever wanna smoke some cats, I've always got room on a shelf.
I like some Creole or Cajun Blackening spice myself for baked or grilled cats. Need to try that "Slap yo mama" I've been hearing about!
I think one of the key points I've glistened from his knowledge base is that cats need thorough cooking. They are fatty, and seem chewy if not cooked down, rendered.
Not like trout or panfish, where all you need is a touch of opaque and you're done. Discovered his smoked cats are done almost to jerky dryness. I've decided if I'm going to have some hot and fresh off the smoker, softer is ok, but if I'm going to store them longer, then done-dry is the way.
Have wondered about a taste test comparison between Willard and Cutler cats. I know Willard is clearer water, but don't know that it's really "cleaner" when you get talking dissolved particulates from agro runoff . . . Willards quite a catch-basin, Cutler flows on through....since it's muddy and murky I think that causes a misperception that the water is therefore "dirty/polluted".
I can say with positive certainty - the Crappie and Bass from the river taste delicious right now. Even to a "non-fish" eater! (Go Panko! Go Panko!)
Secret's in the sauce, or brine. Plus timing on the smoker. What kind do you have, and what didn't you like? I wouldn't claim to be an expert, but I do think I've had some successes (plus witnesses )
I'll get the hang of it eventually.
Im also like alot of you guys, I will only keep some of the smaller ones for cooking usually nothing over 24 inches. Have never tried any big ones cause shoot some of them big old boys get pretty ugly lookin. Dont look to appetizing to me.
Everybody seems to have different size limits that they stick to, but for me the eaters are 5 pounds and under. Trim out the lateral line and whatever you want to call that reddish stuff between the fillet and the skin (that turns gray once cooked), as well as pretty much anything that doesn't have the same color, transparency and general look as the main body of fish flesh.
With catfish, it seems to be worth throwing out a teeny bit of good meat, in order to make sure you trim out all the bad. That being said, I try to always make sure to NEVER open the body cavity on a catfish. There is all sorts of fun juices and goo in there that I just don't want to get on my catfish meat, and once that has been cut open, the liklihood of not getting any of it on the meat is pretty low.
Then, contrary to how I cook virtually every other piece of meat in the world, I make sure it is good and cooked, as has been said. If you follow those rules, I can pretty much guarantee that cats out of the Bear River drainage will never disappoint, regardless of what you season it with, or what technique you use to cook it.
It certainly isn't aesthetically pleasing, but even the parts of the fillet that are sometimes yellow in color (which are obviously part of the main body of fish flesh) don't taste bad if you get rid of all that other stuff and cook them well.
Because catfish don't have the best eyesight, they rely more heavily on smell, taste and feel. So they have tons of equipment for that all over, and throughout thier body. I have found that removing all that fatty and nervous tissue makes all the difference in the world.
As one last note, I have only eaten a couple cats out of Willard, but in that limited experience, it seemed to me that our Bear River cats are far superior as table fare. So with all of the other delicious fish in that place, I have decided to get my catfish back on the home-side of the hill. I don't know if it was a river vs reservoir-type thing, where the river cats get more "exersize" or what. I'm sure there are hordes of Willard cat-lovers who will disagree with me on that, so I appologize in advance, but that was the experience I had.
If you sit and worry about what might happen, nothing ever will.
Everytime there is a question on best rods, lures, lines, hooks...and fish cooking...the thread turns into a neverending litany of personal opinions and subjective standoffs. Nobody is all right and nobody is all wrong. All are entitled to their opinions based upon their own tastes and personal experiences.
You can't arbitrarily state that fish from one water are absolutely better than those from another water. Ditto for fish of different age groups and sizes. Too many variables. And when it comes to personal preferences in taste and texture all the reasoning goes out the window. That's why we have so many manufacturers of the same foods and drinks...with so many different taste options. Peoples likes different stuffs.
From MY perspective...I prefer to keep smaller cats (under about 3 pounds) to fillet and fry...or cook in a basket on the grill. Slightly larger...up to 5-6 pounds...are good for smoking...but are also just fine for frying too. Ditto for bigger kitties. The key is to remove the red sensory tissue from the lateral line and to cut the larger fillets into thin strips or steaks...so they cook faster and more thoroughly.
That being said, I have had small channel cats that had an "off" taste...when taken from shallow, muddy, stagnant water. They do reflect their environment. On the other hand I have thoroughly enjoyed "kitty fingers" from cats over 20 pounds that were processed from the big thick fillets of fish from deep, clean lakes or running waters. Properly prepared, seasoned, coated and cooked the flesh from a humongo kitty is not remarkably different than that of a smaller one...usually.
In short, not all catfish from Willard will taste the same...and not all catfish from the Bear River or impoundments will taste the same. Habitat and diet will both play a role. Probably not as much difference as between the average fish from each of the two waters. But ultimately the methods of preparation and cooking will be more important than the raw fish.
Smoking? Again, a lot of variables...type of smoker, area used for smoking, temperature and wind conditions, insulation of smoker, heat regulation inside the smoker, type of wood used and frequency of change, thickness of fish to be smoked, length of time between wood changes, total time allowed to remain in the heat, etc.
I have been smoking fish...and catfish...for MANY years. I can honestly say that I do not have ANY exact formulas for producing perfect smoked product for any fish or meat. I have seasonings and methods that are places to begin but after that every batch is going to be at least slightly different because of variations in the factors listed above.
The same is true when doing a big fish fry with catfish as the guests of honor. If you start out with the oil too hot, the first fillets will be overcooked on the outside and undercooked on the inside. But once you have the temperature regulated the coating will be nice and brown about the time the fish is done. I kinda watch the fillets and when they float to the top they have cooked off the right amount of moisture from the inside and are firm enough to be done just right. I usually give them an extra minute or two after they float. Again, all a matter of experience and personal preference.
It's what happens to them after the hook is removed that matters. Fish flesh spoils at an alarming rate after death, especially in warm temps. Ice them and enjoy them.
Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult
I typically string 'em up, then ice 'em down. They are often still kicking when it's fillet time. But I have heard "stress" can cause some off-flavor reactions.
Not sure what's best. Maybe I'll try the bleeding out, see how it works. (course I'd have to FIND some cats first!)