Jan 1, 2013 A Bigger Story Than Expected

Written By: Paulette Kenyon, January 18, 2013

I didn’t want to write about Eric again; so, I told Dan, “Eric is taking me striper fishing on Saturday; can I get my article in on Monday?” 

Dan said, “Sure; go fishing; go get your story.” 

So, Eric, the dogs, and I went out of Martinez into Suisun Bay and fished for stripers all day. We missed out on the live Gobies; so, we figured we’d fish with shad, when the frozen gobies weren’t exciting any of the local fish. It was getting late and we’d moved the boat again, closer to the ghost ships, closer to the boat ramp. 

During the day, we’d both caught an “eater” striper each and it was starting to get dark. The darkening sky had that eery yellow dissolving brighter and smaller into the dark clouds beyond the bridge; the ghost ships fading into inky waters behind us. 

Eric started to reel in his first rod. Instead of standing up to reel mine in right away - which is what I almost did - I decided to wait until he got to his second pole. As I stood to grab my pole, it bent over before I got to it. I picked it up and let whatever grabbed the shad run a little ways with it. I pulled back hard; there was a lot of weight. The line spun out under my burning thumb. 

Just as I said, “This feels like a sturgeon,” she breeched her whole body within 10 yards from the boat. I thought for sure, she would’ve shook off the hook; but, she was still on when I recovered, my pulse quickening and my heart pounding, as I quickly reeled in the slack. Saved…. Whew!

Since we usually just catch schoolie-size stripers this time of year, I was fishing with light tackle - a light limber rod outfitted with 15 lb test and a 20 lb. mono leader. This thin, seemingly fragile line connected me to this majestic creature beneath us, always pulling downward, causing me to stumble and march all around the boat. 

Whenever she made a run, I let my thumb gauge how much she could take, how much my pole and the line could take. Sometimes, my thumb was on fire. Neither of us wanted to give an inch. She was smart; she ran under the boat at every possible angle; and, I found myself having to maneuver over all our belongings lying haphazardly all over the boat, as we were half readied to leave. 

Ropes were strewn on the front of the boat, the ice chest and tackle boxes were blocking the way down the right side of the boat. The dogs were always in the way. It’s a miracle; and, yet, it’s as if my body remembered what it was like to catch a big sturgeon – the one I caught so many years ago, on the other side of the bridge, near Oozel Pier. 

My blood pulsed the same beats; I danced the same rhythms – only this time, the fish was a little smaller and the tackle was a little lighter. I had to compensate; would it be enough?

I remembered that feeling of being connected to these great primordial beings. It was clear that this magnificent creature dearly wanted to live - didn’t want me to pull it in; and, she was fighting with all the will she could muster. Our two wills were caught in this dream; and, I so dearly wanted to give her more time. But, it was getting dark; so, I had to take some chances and push my equipment further than I normally would’ve dared. 

And, in the end, she came to the surface finally in line with the boat, where Eric gratefully scooped her before she got another wind. I felt so honored to have matched wills with this wondrous being. It took me a good 45 minutes to do; but, each second of it was a thrill beyond measure. She put up such a grand fight that I half prayed she was too big; but, she measured one inch inside the maximum size. 

After scrambling all over the boat, digging through our gear to find the measuring tape, we measured her at 65.” Eric cheered and hugged me. The dogs were so awestruck, they didn’t even lick her all over like they usually do to fish. 

They just stared at her in wonderment. But, I didn’t tell Eric to heave her overboard, as it’s been a long time since we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying sturgeon meat. I also didn’t want to let down my readers, who are overdue for sturgeon recipes. At least she wasn’t fat with eggs. I would’ve felt guilty if I had taken her with a giant batch of eggs.

Since I thought you might like to hear about my sturgeon story, I ran out of room for either of the two recipes I created using these wonderful mini peppers I’ve been finding at stores. This recipe is a third one that I concocted this month as another attempt to outdo a bottled marinade that is expensive that I like. I’ve used this recipe on both trout and antelope steaks recently. I definitely like my version better than the one that I have been attempting to copy. Go for it!

 

EZ Blackberry Chipotle Marinade

1/8-1/4 Cup canned chipotle peppers (2 peppers with sauce)

2-3 Tbsp. Seedless blackberry jam

1-1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp. salt (or salt to taste)

 

Depending on how hot you want this, I’d say use about one chipotle pepper per person. I know I had to blow my nose while eating this; although, this amount of heat would be the least Eric would like in heat, when talking peppers. I chopped up the peppers very finely, combined them with the rest of the ingredients, and then, I put the trout or the steaks in the marinade for 30 minutes or so. 

I broiled the fish. I quickly sautéed the antelope steaks that I had marinated in this sauce. I think this sauce would be good on salmon or on other meats as well. When I took the fillets out of the marinade, I then, brushed them with the marinade before I put them under the broiler. I also think that it might taste good to add a little water to the pan after cooking the steaks and pouring the juice over the steaks. I didn’t do that; but, I was tempted to. Maybe next time…

This recipe is enough for 2-3 people.

If you have any questions, comments, recipes or cooking tips to share, feel free to write me at: Paulette or Cookin Yer Catch;c/o The Fish Sniffer; PO Box 776; Colfax, CA; 95713-0776.

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