It was crowded and rainy in Missouri a couple of weekends ago when my family headed out to Bennett Spring State Park.
People are often surprised to hear that we’re a fishing family, but it’s something I grew up with. We were the Asian family sitting riverside on camping chairs in sport-inappropriate clothing with a pair of yappy chihuahuas. My sister and I would read novels while occasionally checking our lines. We would be surrounded by the regulars in their chest-high waders and lure-decked hats and vests.
I asked Dad this time where he picked up trout fishing and he said a friend had taught him when he was in grad school in Utah. He then taught my mom, and they both were — ahem — hooked.
I don’t remember catching anything in all those years of fishing. My dad and sister both insist that I must have, but I recall mostly getting bored and wandering back to the cabin or tent to read in more comfortable positions. This time I caught two. Our total haul was 11, half rainbows, half some other less tasty trout (brown? German?).
Dad guts them riverside. Some of the other fishermen will even proudly fillet their catch there, leaving 75 percent of the fish in the water — including my mom’s favorite part, the head. They don’t know what they’re missing.
My mom’s favorite way to cook fresh-caught river trout is to make a soup out of whole fish with ginger — large, golf-ball-sized chunks of ginger, with maybe a little salt as the sole adornment. Each person gets a whole trout in his or her bowl.
My sister and I insisted that Mom set aside a few for frying, which she did, if a little begrudgingly. Fried trout skin is fantastic — crisp, salty, with a thin layer of melting fat. Tastes like gribenes.
In addition to the fish in my soup, I managed to polish off an entire fried trout. Leaving the head for Mom, of course.