River to Freezer
Sunrise behind the clouds this morning.
The line had ten more catfish on it and two gous. I didn’t rebait it, shrimp are scarce. After I ran the line, I set up to clean the fish I caught yesterday and today – a pretty good bunch. Catfish are easy to clean compared to gous, for me at least. Even with skinning the gous instead of scaling them, you still have to take off the dorsal fin by running a sharp knife along both sides of it and then grasping the tail end of it with the skinning pliers and pulling forward. It kind of unzips and all the little bones associated with it come out. Same for the anal fin with that big spine in it. I shouldn’t complain about the spine though, it is one of the easiest things to identify in American Indian kitchen middens in the Basin (will put that stuff into a future posting). But, back to cleaning gous. You have to remove the fat along the back, if there is any, and the fat inside the body cavity. Finally, the kidney, the dark tissue along the top of the body cavity, is hard to reach because it is actually nested back between the ribs. I take out as much of this as I have the motivation to, which is mainly measured by whether my wonderful wife is watching me clean the fish. Once it’s cooked, she doesn’t ask. Catfish, as mentioned, are easy to clean. In the old days when our income depended on how fast you could do all the chores involved in commercial catfishing, I could do a catfish in seventeen seconds. I think I can still do one in less than 30 seconds. But gous take a while longer. After all the mess is cleaned up, I use the new double guard plastic ziplock bags. They really seem to protect fish better than anything else on the market. Freezing in water is best but it takes a long time to defrost them, at least I feel that way.
Ever notice the difference between a channel cat and a blue cat once it’s cleaned? The channel cat has a golden hue to the meat, while the blue cat has pink flesh. Take a look next time. Which is which in the picture? Click on the picture for a full sized image and a better look.
Anyway, after cleaning the fish I usually take the heads, skins, etc. out to the middle of the river and recycle them. Today the recycling started with a single ring-billed gull picking up anything that floated in my offering. It must have been doing this for at least 30 minutes, and I thanked it.
The river is at 8.1 feet at the Butte La Rose gauge, and will fall slowly to 7.7 feet by Sunday. Both the Mississippi and Ohio are falling pretty fast. I have to watch this because if the big logs on the raft get left up on the bank in falling water, it will take a good rise to get them off. This happened a couple years ago and it looked crippled until the water came up and rescued the raft. If this happened and the water didn’t come up enough to refloat it, it would be stuck on the bank for most of the next year. Prevention pays.
Rise and shine, Jim