It’s bluegill time at a farm pond near you!
You can’t buy bluegills in a grocery store or a seafood market, but they are such a culinary delight that all fish lovers should head out and catch a few.
One word of advice. Fish very early in the day or late in the afternoon. Bluegills are sunfish and the sun hurts their eyes. Therefore they swim to deep water during the hat of the day and return close to the banks during low light hours when they are easier to catch..
You’ll need a lightweight fishing rod and reel., some size 6 hooks, a bobber and a carton of large meal worms. At the pond, put a mealworm on the hook and start off fishing near any dock or visible structure. Make a cast and watch the bobber. When it goes under, lift the rod tip and set the hook. Odds are good you’ll have your first bluegill. Put it on ice in a cooler and keep fishing until you think you have enough.
There is really no such thing as a “too little to keep” bluegill. Even the little four-inch fish are good, maybe even better than their larger cousins. Depending on their size, about 4 bluegills per person should do the trick.
When you get home, spread out some newspapers on a table outside, get a butcher knife and scrape off the scales. Next, whack off their heads and remove the entrails. Your bluegills are now ready for the frying pan.
Note that a filet knife was never mentioned in the cleaning process. That’s because whole, cooked bluegills are infinitely better than small filets. A fish cooked whole exploits all the flavor of the bones and skin. And if you cook them properly, they flesh lifts neatly off the backbone. The fish are done when you begin to see the cooked side bubble. You can also test with a fork. They should flake easily.
It is sacrilegious to even consider cooking bluegills any other way than frying.
There are two critical rules for frying fish. Never put the fish in oil that is not crackling hot and don’t overcrowd the pan. There should be room between each fish. They fry quickly, so put the done fish on a platter in a warm oven, and then serve when all the fish are fried.
Once you catch a few bluegills and cook them properly, you’ll surely say: I need to do this more often.
Southern Fried Bluegills
About 4 fish per person
House Autry Seafood Breading
1 cup Milk
Rinse the fish thoroughly in cold water, taking care to remove any lingering scales. In a bowl of House Autry Seafood Breading, roll each bluegill in the flour mixture, then dip in a wash of milk and eggs, then roll again in the flour. Shake off any excess flour and put the fish carefully in the skillet of hot oil – about a half-inch deep. Turn only once when the bottom size is golden brown. They are done when the flesh flakes easily with a fork. Enjoy!