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When the going gets tough in Oregon, the tough go trout fishing…guess what’s for dinner?

August 31, 2009

The clouds skim the mountain tops at Detroit Lake

The clouds skim the mountain tops at Detroit Lake

Most people work all day at a stressful job in an office and then to blow off steam, they go work out at a windowless indoor gym somewhere. In Oregon, you can still go to an indoor gym, but why do that when there’s so much more you can do outdoors?

Right around the end of last year, I got hooked on fishing. During my first furlough from work, I hung a sign on my computer…gone fishing. I tried my hand for steelhead on the Siletz River (came home empty handed) but had beautiful views of a waterfall at a spot on the fishing hole at Moonshine Park that a friend recommended. I tried fishing off the jetty at Newport for rock fish (came home again empty handed), and off the jetty at Garibaldi (this time brought home 3 pre-historic looking rock fish that I ended up filleting and skinning). I also rediscovered Detroit Lake, about a 40 minute drive East of Salem up in the mountains toward Mount Jefferson. It has turned out to be one of my favorite fishing…and chill out spots. The views are amazing…and the cell phone service is spotty except for a few spots. And I’ve discovered over time that it’s almost a sure thing for trout.

If you don't have a boat, no sweat. You can fish off the dam at Detroit Lake. Another good spot is Tumble Creek, but be prepared for a short hike under the bridge to get to the best spot where the creek empties out into the lake. You can often spot the trout in the water underneath the bridge at Tumble Creek, eating the bugs washed in by the creek.

If you don't have a boat, no sweat. You can fish off the dam at Detroit Lake. Another good spot is Tumble Creek, but be prepared for a short hike under the bridge to get to the best spot where the creek empties out into the lake. You can often spot the trout in the water underneath the bridge at Tumble Creek, eating the bugs washed in by the creek.

You can catch trout year-round at Detroit Lake. There’s a large native population of rainbows but the lake is also the most heavily stocked lake by the Dept. of Wildlife in Oregon from spring to early fall. You don’t really need a boat to fish here either, although the lake is dotted with them during the summertime.

There are two spots that are my favorite: Fishing from the dam, and then there’s Tumble Creek. You can also fish from a raised platform near the boat dock at Hoover Park on the north fork of the Santiam River, which is dammed to form the lake. But at Hoover, you have to pay since it’s a campground.

This past weekend, I went up both days to Detroit. Saturday Charles and I each caught one nice sized trout that turned out to be a stocked fish ( you can tell stocked fish from wild fish because the adipose fins of stocked fish are clipped). Well, since there’s three in our family and nobody at the dinner table ever fights over the store-bought trout, I went back up on Sunday morning and between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., which seem to be the time when these suckers are the hungriest and most eager to take your bait and hook, I caught three more. One good-sized wild rainbow and two smaller ones. One was barely legal so I kept it and the other I tossed back and wished it godspeed. You see, the Osprey up at Detroit Lake have learned that if they circle the air above the dam, sooner or later, an angler will haul up a trout that’s too small to keep and toss it back into the water. Dazed, the fish will float on the surface for a few moments, long enough for the Osprey to swoop down and…breakfast for Osprey.

So by mid-day, having no more luck, I headed back home with my wild-caught bounty and started making dinner plans. Charles and my mother had by now already called me on my cell phone to see if there was going to be trout on the dinner menu…what do you think?

Trout almondine, orzo salad with peas and tomatoes in a balsamic vinaigrette

Trout almondine, orzo salad with peas and tomatoes in a balsamic vinaigrette

When faced with trout staring up at me from the kitchen sink, my thought usually runs to two options: smoke them or pan-fry them. This time they were destined for the pan. So for dinner, we had my adaptation of trout almondine, twice-baked potatoes with Rogue Creamery Oregonzola blue cheese, and an orzo salad. Needless to say, there was not much left over on the dinner table after the meal but some fish bones.

Trout Almondine

  1. Trout, gutted, whole (head on if you please…yes you can do it my squeamish friends)
  2. A few tablespoons of slivered almonds
  3. 2 sticks unsalted butter for frying the trout (You read that right, ½ lb. – you need the depth.)
  4. 1 lemon
  5. 1 teaspoon of herbs de Provence per each cup of flour you’re using
  6. 2 cups of flour (at least for up to 3 fish)
  7. 1 teaspoon of garlic salt
  8. ground pepper to taste
  9. 1 cup of milk to dredge fish
  10. 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

First mix flour and spices. Then soak the fish in the milk a few seconds on each side and immediately dredge in the flour mixture,  coating evenly.

In a non-stick pan melt the butter (2 sticks) and in go the trout. Cook a few minutes on each side until brown and remove from pan to serving dish.

After you cook all the trout, drain most of the oil but leave about a tablespoon or two left and brown the slivered almonds. This should only take a few seconds because you don’t want them to burn.

Then squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the pan to deglaze, turn off the heat and then distribute the almonds and drippings on top of each fish and garnish with some lemon slices and the chopped parsley.

Twice-Baked Potatoes

  1. 3 baking potatoes
  2. 2-3 ounces (small wedge) of Oregonzola blue cheese, or any other blue cheese for you poor folks who can’t get Oregonzola at your store. *
  3. 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  4. 3 tablespoons olive oil

Bake the potatoes (individually covered in foil) in a 400-degree oven for an hour. Remove and let cool.

With a sharp knife, cut the tops off to create an opening for you to scoop out the flesh. With a spoon or small 1″ ice-cream scooper, scoop out the potato flesh carefully (so you leave the skin intact for you to later re-stuff the potato) and place in a mixing bowl.

Crumble the blue cheese into the bowl, add spices and oil, and using a potato masher, roughly mash together the ingredients.

Spoon all of the ingredients into a zip-loc bag and snip off one of the corners of the bag about an inch from the corner…and voila, you cans squeeze the bag and pipe the potato mixture back into the skins.

Sprinkle paprika on the tops of each potato and put in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes to reheat.

* We’ve had reports from Texas friends that the Whole Foods there carry this and other products from Rogue Creamery.

Easy Orzo Salad

Boil a box of orzo, drain and in a mixing bowl add chopped tomatoes as much as you like, chopped basil as much as you like, and a bag of peas boiled for a few minutes. Dress with oil and vinegar and Italian seasoning to taste and mix well.

Enjoy!

— Vic

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. SteveM permalink
    September 1, 2009 12:39 pm

    A nice diversion at times is to add a little splash of chopped Cilantro when you bakethe potato for the 2nd time.

    • vpanichkul permalink*
      September 2, 2009 4:51 am

      Before the second bake of afterwards as a garnish?

  2. September 1, 2009 3:28 pm

    That first photo is JUST gorgeous…I love the picture of Vic fishing. And the recipes sounds delish. As soon as I get back to my NYC kitchen, I’m trying them!

    So glad you started a blog…you guys were meant for this! xoxo

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