Do You Eat, Or Release, The Freshwater Fish You Catch In Maine?
There are many schools of thought on this, as a Mainer.
A lifelong Mainer at that. Personally, I love fish. All fish. I'll gladly chomp down on the freshest seafood Maine has to offer, or I'm also inclined to catch and eat whatever I get right off the end of my dock. I've literally tried everything in Davis Pond in Eddington. Some of it was delicious, some of it was just a pain in the butt.
Recently, we told you all about this huge Northern Pike that was caught in the Belgrade Lakes region. It was gigantic! Definitely worth the trouble of picking through the bones or giving a solid attempt at fileting. So between that, and this thread on Reddit, I got wondering if Mainers eat their catch?
On Reddit, there were two basic answers...
Ok, actually three. There are Mainers like me, who will try anything once and either be pleasantly surprised or never do that again. Also, folks who've "heard they're good eating, but thought they were too bony to try". And lastly, folks from out of state who can't understand why we wouldn't eat everything we catch.
We've all stared at a sunfish and wondered. Some of us have actually tried it.
The conversation started around pickerel and pike. Pickerel are especially legendary for being super bony and not worth the trouble. But, and I've caught many, if you have a pickerel over 20"+, it's worth the trouble, and it's delicious. Though, to be fair, it tastes like just about any other freshwater fish.
But there was an overall consensus.
Mainers have seemingly often tried "exotic" freshwater fish, and never bothered again with the ones they didn't like. In other words, we've all stared at a sunfish and wondered. Some of us have actually tried it. Especially crappie. Very good eating, although surprisingly small yield for their size.
Yellow perch... also delicious. Again, the bigger the better. But a lot of folks generally just don't eat "trash" fish. In the same way, we don't eat squirrels and porcupines like they do in other states. Down south, they love all these things. It's your choice as to whether they're weird, or you're not open-minded.
But maybe try some of what lives in Maine waters. See what you've been missing. Catch and release is totally cool, and I do it most of the time, but there's no harm in putting a meal on the table.