Sunday, 23 June 2024

There are many ways to enjoy Clear Lake's fish


It's no secret that while fish are nutritionally rich, and are recommended in a healthy diet by the American Heart Association, many carry unhealthy pollutants. Methylmercury, detected at relatively high levels in Clear Lake and Lake Pillsbury fish, can damage the nervous system, particularly in the developing fetus and young children; also, nursing mothers can pass methylmercury to their infants through breast milk.

The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) recommends that women of child-bearing age and children younger than 17 not eat fish from Lake Pillsbury, and limit consumption of Clear Lake's Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, white catfish, brown bullhead, green sunfish, black crappie, white crappie, Sacramento blackfish, Sacramento pikeminnow, hardhead or Sacramento sucker to one serving a month.

A serving is assumed to be 8 ounces for a 160-pound adult. If you weigh more or less than 160 pounds, add or subtract one ounce to your meal size, respectively, for each 20-pound difference in body weight. Men and older women can safely eat one serving a week of these fish.

The OEHHA recommends bluegill, hitch, carp, trout, or crayfish as the safest local fish, with one serving a week allowed for children and women of child-bearing age, three servings a week for others. No one, they say, should eat any fish or shellfish from Bear Creek.

With that out of the way, and the resident angler's catch reposing in the refrigerator, what to do with them? Here are some simple recipes for the safest fish except for the hitch, which is probably best left alone to eat pesky insects and provide forage for other fish, birds and mammals. Besides would you really eat a minnow?


If you're only using crayfish for bait, you're missing some fine eating. Just ask any Louisiana native, or anyone who's attended the annual April, May and June festivals in Napa, Roseville, Isleton and Vallejo.

These tiny lobsters lurk in rocky spots in creeks and lakes, and can be caught with traps sunk overnight; they're partial to fatty foods like cheese, hot dogs and bacon. Yes, you do need a fishing license if you're over 18 (you could send visiting grandchildren out at dusk with baited strings).

Sunset magazine suggests “simply boil them briefly for a delicious hands-on meal. Then serve them hot or marinate in a spicy bath to enjoy cold. To eat, peel the tails and crack the claws (if large) for morsels of sweet meat. If you're daring, suck the body cavity for delicious juices, the green- to gold-colored "butter," and red eggs (in females).” Serve them with melted butter and lemon wedges for a purist's delight. You can substitute boiled and peeled crayfish for shrimp in any recipe.


Look for fish as far down as 25 feet, find them anywhere along the shore during the summer months. Sure, you can fry them, with or without batter, but why not try a healthier version?


Bluegill (allow one pound for 2-3 servings)

2 tablespoons melted butter

¾ cup lemon juice

¾ cup Italian salad dressing

salt and pepper to taste

Clean the fish (scale and remove entrails) with heads remaining intact. Adjust the broiling rack of your oven to hold the fish about 4 inches from the heat. Preheat the broiler and broiling pan. Brush the fish liberally with lemon juice inside and out, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Coat the bottom of the broiling pan with melted butter, then arrange the fish. Baste with Italian salad dressing.

Broil for 4 or 5 minutes or until the fish starts to brown. Turn, baste and broil the fish for an additional 4 minutes, or until they flake easily when tested with a fork.


A relative of the freshwater salmon, trout is a valuable source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help prevent heart disease and is a low-fat, low-sodium food.

Here's an easy way to clean and debone trout in one step: Come up the belly of the fish with a fillet knife. Then slit up one side of the head and gills and then the other. This will allow you to grab the gills along with the spine and pull everything fish intestines and bones in one sweep.

From Britain, perhaps the source of trout fishing as religion:


Serves 4


2 tbsp Olive Oil

4 Spring Onions, chopped

1 Garlic Clove, crushed

½ tsp Chili Powder

2.5cm/1 inch Fresh Ginger, finely chopped

2 tbsp White Wine Vinegar

1 tsp Honey

4 Trout Fillets, skinned

2 tbsp Freshly Chopped Coriander

1 Mango

½ tsp Salt

1 Star Fruit, sliced

Mixed Green Salad Leaves

Heat the oil in a large frying pan add the spring onions, garlic and chili powder and stir fry for one minute.

Stir in the ginger, vinegar and honey and simmer for two minutes. Bring to the boil then add the trout, mix gently and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Add the coriander, mix well, then remove from the heat, cover and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, skin the mango and cut the flesh into large dice. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and leave in a cool place until you are ready to serve.

To serve arrange the salad leaves on a serving platter (or on individual plates) and arrange the pieces of mango and the sliced star fruit on top of the leaves. Place the trout fillets on top and drizzle the sauce over the fillets.


This import from Eurasia doesn't have a great reputation among North American gourmets, but fisherfolk admire its fighting spirit, and it's a traditional Christmas dish in Czechoslovakia. Has a very strong flavor, tempered by seasoning.


1 pound of carp

1 cup grated onion

1/4 cup dried parsley


Lemon juice


Caraway seeds

Cumin (optional)

Cut up cleaned carp into large sections. Cut out small pockets in the carp meat. Sprinkle with salt. Mix grated onion with parsley and a little oil. Rub this mixture over the carp. Fill the holes also with a little of this mixture. Spread caraway seeds over the meat, pour some lemon juice on top. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until done. Serve with potatoes, roasted, mashed or fried.

E-mail Sophie Annan Jensen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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