Posted: November 4th, 2015 by Bill Dance
I was talking to some of my fishing buddies the other day and they told me they had been having a lot of lucky trolling the deep open-water areas for crappie. They were trolling with small crankbaits, and let me tell you they were loading up on some slabs.
It reminded me not only how delicious crappie are to eat, but of a way to better care for them between the time you pull them from the water and the time you put them on your plate. (OK, I’ll be the first to admit it; sometimes mine don’t even make it to the plate. They are that good!)
Really, there are few game fish that provide as good table fare as the crappie. Crappie meat is flaky white and flavorful. But special care should be taken with these fish to ensure freshness and quality.
Crappie should be kept cold after being caught so the meat will be firm and retain its entire flavor. In winter and spring months, the fish can be kept alive in a livewell or cooler filled with lake water. But warmer months demand that crappie be kept in an ice-filled cooler immediately after being removed from the hook.
It is important to clean crappie as soon as possible upon returning to shore. Whole crappie or fillets may be frozen in saltwater-filled milk cartons, but make sure all the meat is completely covered by water.
Another freezing method allows the cook to thaw any desired number of fillets without thawing the entire package. Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper and arrange fillets in rows to cover the sheet. Add another layer of wax paper, place more fillets in a second layer and continue to build layers (separated by wax paper) until you are out of fish. Cover the top layer with wax paper and place the fillets in the freezer overnight.
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