We live in the “Fishing Capital of the World,” and are in the best season of the year. The baitfish are back, the predators are biting, and nearly all species are showing up in the Gulf and surrounding Tampa Bay areas. Because you’ll catch a variety of fish, it’s essential to know which ones to keep, which ones to release, and how to prepare the ones you take home. With a focus on preservation, sustainability, and culinary creation, this is your quick and easy food fish guide.
Due to the 2018 Red Tide, many of our most valuable and sought after food fish are still restricted to catch and release only. Snook, Redfish and Speckled Sea Trout were hit the hardest during this catastrophe, and following restrictions assure their presence in the future.
In the meantime, we have created a quick how-to guide with our favorite food fish and instructors at FishLikeUs.com. This guide is intended to keep you catching and eating fresh fish at Fisherman’s Cove despite seasonal restrictions.
There are a growing number of anglers visiting Terra Ceia Bay. Docks, mangrove lines, and grass flats are producing flounder, pompano, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel, crabs, and more. With many delicious recipes available, knowing some standard cooking methods will provide variety and pleasure. Following these guidelines for filleting, skinning, and cracking your creatures will result in favorable feasts.
Because we like to assure we’re not wasting the precious lives we are taking, we want to remind anglers to throw anything they don’t use, such as the guts, heads, and skin back to the sea. Many creatures will appreciate those easy meals being available – including our resident 40″ snook.
Once you have your food fish prepared for cooking, you will need to decide how to cook it. The most common preparations include frying or grilling, but many options are available. We suggest using a small grill, outdoor cooktop, or some other heat source when RV’ing to avoid lingering smells.
For delicious recipes that adapt to almost any species, refer to the list below. We have designed these recipes around our favorite fish, but they are easy to exchange.
Because we are all different, these recipes can be altered to include herbs and ingredients you enjoy by simply replacing the ones you don’t. Refer to our Catch & Cook playlist to view additional local fare.
Depending on the tide and lunar cycles, you may also catch less desirable species like catfish, lizardfish, and jack crevalle. Truth be told, these fish can be eaten, and are pretty good with the right preparation.
Although it may seem ridiculous to bring home an undesirable fish over a prize-winning fish, it’s honorable to consider the thought. By eating all of the fish (not just the most desirable species), we level the playing field and balance the numbers. It’s a sustainability practice that may surprise your taste buds. Amberjack, Kingfish, Catfish, Bluefish, Jack Crevalle, and many other species are edible with the right preparation. We suggest following these guidelines as you experiment.
- Learn about the species by searching online or subscribing to a blog that teaches you these nuances.
- Take the time to do the work by skinning, removing the blood vein, and soaking the fish in a brine or dairy solution the way we did in this Jack Crevalle recipe.
- Remain open to the possibility that these fish can taste just as good as those listed above.
In today’s world, the one thing we can guarantee is the necessity to change our minds. What once was considered “trash fish” could very well be the best fish of the future. What we once turned our noses at can turn out to be our favorite dish.
Here at Fisherman’s Cove Resort, we look forward to surprising you with beautiful settings, friendly neighbors, and abundant fishing right off our private dock. You’ll meet fellow anglers with great fish stories, experts with tips to share, and an abundance of fishing fun.
We look forward to seeing you, fishing with you, and hearing about your delicious meals when you get here!
Written by Janel Jungels @ FishLikeUs.com