Fish are Food Not Friends: A Guide to the Food Fishery

Petty Harbour, Credit: Chronicle Herald
So You Wanna Catch a Fish? Badge Breaks it Down into 4 Simple Steps

“Food fishery” is of course a euphemism for “can legally catch codfish on the weekends.” 

This might be a far cry from being able to open the fishery back up, but we’ll take it. With a few good days, you’ll have a dozen-or-so fish fer winter, buddy. Wicked.

In case you have no idea what you’re doing – here is a play-by-play for the rest of the season:

Step One: Acquire Fish 

All you need is a boat, an ocean rod, a fish finder (or some old feller that knows the grounds like the alphabet, like Dave) and some patience.

Cod hang out on shoals, as close to the ocean floor as possible which makes catching them embarrassingly easy. Drop the lure straight down and bring it a foot off bottom. “Two turns is t’ousands” as Dave likes to say. Have fun hauling one up by the gut in 300 feet of water.

Then you’re gonna want to execute the thing over the side of the boat, throw it unceremoniously into a bin with its brothers and sisters and talk shit about whose is the largest, despite luck literally being the only determining factor.

Step One-Point-Five: Break the Law

You are allowed to have five fish per-person in your boat at any point in time, up to a maximum of fifteen fish. Sixteen fish? Busted. So what every respectable bayman I have ever met does is unload after fifteen fish and repeat. It’s greasy – let’s leave it at that.

Step Two: Clean Said Fish

If you are out around the bay, this means fillet the fish and throw away the guts, along with the best parts.

Filleting a fish means remove the muscle tissue from both sides of the fish – the largest deposits of flesh. Unless you are reasonably talented, like Dave, you are going to massacre your first few fish and waste a very reasonable portion of meat which is unacceptable. A reasonable alternative is to gut the fish, remove the fins and keep it whole.

Step Three: Determine What to do with Fish

I grew to the age of 23 before I learned that you can do more with white-fish than batter and fry the stuff.

Allow me to rip off Anthony Bourdain:

Rub the whole fish with olive oil, then coarse salt and pepper. Then take a handful of thyme and half a lemon (thinly sliced, peel off) and stuff the body, then sew the belly up (or in a pinch, use toothpicks like little stitches). Put the whole thing on some wax paper and bake that mother for 45 minutes on 400.

Also Important: Learn to Make a Fish Stock

All you need are those heads (you never threw away, right?), a few bones, and some aromatics (herbs, peppercorns, onion, carrot, celery). Throw the bones/heads in a pot with aromatics, cover with cold water, and simmer very gently for about an hour. This goes in EVERY seafood dish you serve from now on.

Step Four: Live 

Cod Fishing is a very dangerous amount of fun. Wear your lame-ass I-look-like-a-tool lifejacket. You can’t swim that well after four beers.

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  • I am writing in response to Badge’s article about fishes not being our friends, “A Guide to the Food Fishery.”

    I suppose this comes from my own insecurities which I could blame on Canada which belittled the fishermen and created the stereotype of ignorant, drunk, redneck fishermen of Newfoundland (but maybe it is as much to blame on ourselves). And Badge carries this out in the fish are food not friends article. When things are “embarrassingly easy” while you drink your beers is a further belittlement of Newfoundlanders whose primary economy from decades ago came from cod fish.

    In response (or reaction), I wonder about the sort of credit I should give to the Overcast. Old and the new values are always difficult to mingle but prejudice is ignorance and Badge my good buddy, I wonders if your not from the mainland or if that your ashamed of your cultural heritage. Sociologically, you may be like the oppressed carrying and implementing the oppression upon all that you judge. Don’t you take it too bad my good buddy if this be the case. I have met countless of others from around the world possibly in your current state of vanity and insecurity. Reading your article causes me to consider the possible fact that the human creature is a greasy fish best be jigged in the guts but I have become emotional because of my pride. I suppose your more cultured than the “respectable bayman” who breaks the law and I will also suppose that you and me are probably more alike than not.

    Enjoy your fish stock Badge,

    • Hey Travis,

      Thanks for the feedback man – I hadn’t really notice my insertion of my prejudices into the writing.

      I’ll leave the condescension out of it next time 😉


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