The Gor-tex® / Thinsulate® boots that had been back-ordered for months finally arrived in March, just in time for my Spring Break trip. While many females would prefer to pack their swimsuits and head south, I chose to pack my snow gear and head north. (One compelling reason to head to a colder climate is there’s no need to lose those unwanted 10 pounds!)
My brother, Rod, and I spent about nine hours on the road, Sunday, March 20, before we arrived at Sportman’s Lodge. The farther north we drove, the deeper the snow drifts. There were also fewer farmsteads and more forests dotting the countryside. By the time we reached Baudette, Minnesota, we had entered the frozen tundra.
Upon checking into a two-bedroom cabin at Sportman’s Lodge, we made our way to the Riverside Dining Room. There we enjoyed the most delicious meal while overlooking the frozen Rainy River and the Canadian border. Topping off our dining experience – like the cherry on top of a sundae – was the company we kept. We met three of the nicest and most entertaining gentlemen, who were embarking on their annual Lake of the Wood fishing expedition. They gave us some much needed advice and even shared some of their favorite jigs with us. We also shared lots of laughs. Oh, the stories they could tell!
“The fish tales are true,” said Wayne Sletten of Two Harbors, Minn., as he pulled from his wallet a business card-sized ID that showed him proudly holding the 32-inch walleye that he caught on a trip last winter.
The hope of catching my own trophy walleye is what brought me to the Walleye Capital of the World in the first place. Fishing Lake of the Woods was on my Bucket List, and at last, I was living the dream! It was 7:45 a.m. on Monday, March 21, when our group first loaded into a bombardier and took a bumpy 45-minute ride across the ice and through the slush to our fishing site.
My first catch of the day was a keeper walleye, which is more than I can say about my brother’s. He was a good sport, however, and let me photograph his first catch. But by the end of the day Tuesday, it was a different story. Rod had put more “keepers” in the pail than I had, and he even had bragging rights to the “biggest fish.” Even though none of our fish were big enough to mount, they’ll make good eating. I’m looking forward to trying these two recipes that Wayne was kind enough to share.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy the “fresh catch of the day”?
Ranchero Walleye (Serves Four)
- 4 – Walleye fillets (about 8 oz. each)
- 1 c. finely crushed tortilla chips
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 3 T. lime juice
- 1 T. vegetable oil
- 1 c. salsa
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a baking pan.
- Mix crushed tortilla chips and chili powder in a shallow dish or on a piece of wax paper. Mix lime juice and oil in another shallow dish. Dip walleye in the lime juice mixture, then immediately dredge in the seasoned tortilla crumbs to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Sprinkle walleye with remaining tortilla crumbs. Bake 10 minutes or until crisp and golden, and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
- Warm salsa in a small sauce pan over low heat. Arrange walleye on serving plates and spoon salsa across the center. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
Beer Battered Walleye
Equal amounts of the following:
- Cracker Crumbs
- Corn Flakes
- Potato Flakes
- 1 egg
- 1 beer
- Roll fillets in a towel to dry them off.
- Then roll the fillets in flour that’s been salt & peppered.
- Dip each fillet in an egg & beer batter mix (3 -4 tbsp of beer per egg). Adjust depending how many fillets you are cooking. I often use a bit more cold beer, allowing the egg to drip off before taking the next step.
- Roll each fillet in the combined equal parts mix of Cracker Crumbs, Corn Flakes, and Potato Flakes.
- Drop the fillets into a hot, deep fat fryer (350-380 degrees). Cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
NOTE: You can crush your own Corn Flakes, but they now sell crushed corn flakes in a box specifically designed for the sportsman. Isn’t this a great example of “value-added marketing”?