Most people work all day at a stressful job in an office and then, to blow off steam, go work out at a windowless indoor gym somewhere. In Oregon, you can still go to an indoor gym, but why do that when there’s so much more you can do outdoors?
Right around the end of last year, I got hooked on fishing. During my first furlough from work, I hung a sign on my computer…Gone Fishing. I tried my hand for steelhead on the Siletz River (came home empty-handed) but had beautiful views of a waterfall at a spot on the fishing hole at Moonshine Park that a friend recommended. I tried fishing off the jetty at Newport for rockfish (came home again empty-handed), and off the jetty at Garibaldi (this time brought home 3 prehistoric-looking rockfish that I ended up filleting and skinning). I also rediscovered Detroit Lake, about a 40-minute drive East of Salem, up in the mountains toward Mount Jefferson. It has turned out to be one of my favorite fishing…and chill-out spots. The views are amazing…and the cell phone service is spotty. And I’ve discovered over time that it’s almost a sure thing for trout.
You can catch trout year-round at Detroit Lake. There’s a large native population of rainbows but the lake is also the most heavily stocked by the Dept. of Wildlife in Oregon, from spring to early fall. You don’t really need a boat to fish here, either, although the lake is dotted with them during the summertime.
There are two spots that are my favorites: Fishing from the dam, and Tumble Creek. You can also fish from a raised platform near the boat dock at Hoover Park on the north fork of the Santiam River, which is dammed to form the lake. But at Hoover, you have to pay since it’s a campground.
This past weekend, I went up both days to Detroit. Saturday, Charles and I each caught one nice-sized trout that turned out to be a stocked fish (you can tell stocked fish from wild fish because the adipose fins of stocked fish are clipped). Well, since there are three in our family and nobody at the dinner table ever fights over the store-bought trout, I went back on Sunday morning, and between 6 and 7 a.m., which seems to be the time when these suckers are the hungriest and most eager to take your bait and hook, I caught three more. One good-sized wild rainbow and two smaller ones. One was barely legal so I kept it and the other I tossed back and wished it Godspeed. You see, the Osprey up at Detroit Lake have learned that if they circle above the dam, sooner or later an angler will haul up a trout that’s too small to keep and toss it back into the water. Dazed, the fish will float on the surface for a few moments, long enough for the osprey to swoop down and…instant breakfast.
So by mid-day, having no more luck, I headed back home with my wild-caught bounty and started making dinner plans. Charles and my mother had already called me on my cell phone to see if there was going to be trout on the dinner menu…what do you think?
When faced with trout staring up at me from the kitchen sink, my thought usually runs to two options: smoke them or pan-fry them. This time they were destined for the pan. So for dinner, we had my adaptation of trout almondine, twice-baked potatoes with Rogue Creamery Oregonzola blue cheese, and an orzo salad. Needless to say, after the meal there was not much left on the dinner table but some fish bones.
- Trout, gutted, whole (head on, if you please…yes, you can do it, my squeamish friends)
- A few tablespoons (15-45 ml.) slivered almonds
- 2 sticks (225 gr.) unsalted butter for frying the trout (you read that right: ½ lb. (225 gr.) – you need the depth)
- 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) herbs de Provence per each cup of flour you’re using
- 2 cups (480 ml.) flour (at least for up to 3 fish)
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) garlic salt
- Ground pepper to taste
- 1 cup (240 ml.) milk to dredge fish
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) chopped parsley
First mix flour and spices. Then soak the fish in the milk a few seconds on each side and immediately dredge in the flour mixture, coating evenly.
In a non-stick pan melt the butter (2 sticks) and in go the trout. Cook a few minutes on each side until brown and remove from pan to warm serving dish.
After you cook all the trout, drain most of the oil but leave about a tablespoon or two (15-30 ml.) and brown the slivered almonds. This should only take a few seconds because you don’t want them to burn.
Then squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the pan to deglaze, turn off the heat, distribute the almonds and drippings on top of each fish, and garnish with some lemon slices and the chopped parsley.
- 3 baking potatoes
- 2-3 ounces (56-85 gr., small wedge) of Oregonzola blue cheese, or any other blue cheese for you poor folks who can’t get Oregonzola at your store. *
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) garlic salt
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) olive oil
Bake the potatoes (individually covered in foil) in a 400º F (200º C) oven for an hour. Remove and let cool.
With a sharp knife, cut the tops off to create an opening to remove the flesh. With a spoon or 1″ ice-cream scooper, scoop out the potato flesh carefully (so you leave the skin intact for you to later re-stuff the potato) and place in a mixing bowl.
Crumble the blue cheese into the bowl, add spices and oil, and, using a potato masher, roughly mash together the ingredients.
Spoon all of the ingredients into a Ziploc bag and snip off one of the corners of the bag about an inch from the corner…and voilà, you can squeeze the bag and pipe the potato mixture back into the skins.
Sprinkle paprika on the tops of each potato and put in a 350º F (177º C) oven for about 10 minutes to reheat.
* We’ve had reports from Texas friends that Whole Foods carries this and other products from Rogue Creamery.
Easy Orzo Salad
Boil a box of orzo, drain and in a mixing bowl add chopped tomatoes as much as you like, chopped basil as much as you like, and a bag of peas boiled for a few minutes. Dress with oil and vinegar and Italian seasoning to taste and mix well.