Thursday, February 9, 2017

What is a Poohbah of 'Pout?

A. A taciturn leader of an exalted office
B. A small yellow bear of children's book fame pronounced with a Southern accent
C. Head of the Loyal Order of Water Buffalo Lodge No 26
D. An expert at catching cod

The answer, of course is the last one, D.
What cod are we talking about? Lota lota. It is the only freshwater member of the cod family and goes by dozens of names, one of which is 'Pout, short for Eelpout. They are found in deep lakes all over North America, including Red Lake.
Here we call them Ling. They are almost dead ringers for another fish, the saltwater Ling Cod.
In Manitoba they are called Mariah. In the Great Lakes they are called Lawyers (I would like to hear the story behind that), in Minnesota, Eelpout.
We have a mounted Ling in the lodge at camp and also display the painting, shown below, which  lists just some of this mysterious fish's monikers.
They are found on the bottom, usually just below the thermocline, in some of the deepest bays.
They have been known to incite terror among unsuspecting anglers. Their eel-like body might be partly to blame but I think the main reason is they have the habit of wrapping around your arm when you try to unhook them.That plus the fact they are so slimy you can barely get a grip. Finally, their swim bladders usually come popping out of their mouths due to the pressure difference between where they were and the surface.
Anglers, usually on the hunt for lake trout, have been known to take out a knife and cut their lines rather than deal with the vile-looking Ling. And that's a pity because they are absolutely harmless. They don't even have teeth.
They are also delicious to eat. In fact, I would rate them as one of the North's best-eating deep water fish, beating out lake trout and whitefish by a mile.
Their flesh is quite different from other fish. First of all they don't have much of it. There are two "tubes" of meat on either side of the backbone. These are totally boneless and are firmer in texture than other fish.
A great way to prepare them is to cut the tube into chunks, about an inch thick. These should be sauteed in butter, perhaps with garlic, onions and red peppers, if you have them handy, for a few minutes. They taste very, very similar to scallops.
Another technique is to place the tubes whole in boiling water for a minute or two and then eat them with melted butter or seafood sauce. This is where they have earned the name Poor Man's Lobster.
Whatever you do, never deep fry them in oil like you would other fish fillets. The oil in the Ling's flesh, very likely high in omega 3s, will burn and give this fish a bad taste.
A final word about the misunderstood Ling is that they don't freeze well. Don't get me wrong, they freeze solid, but in so doing it alters the taste. Fresh ling have no fishy taste whatsoever but not so ling that have been frozen.

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Anonymous said...

My sister has a picture of one she caught about 10 years ago, Peter Hagerdorn said it was the biggest he has ever seen!

Any advice on fishing for these guys? Everywhere I look the only info found is that they are more of a by catch.


Dan Baughman said...

I'm not an expert on ling fishing but we do have some of guests who are really good at it. They usually use a large jig without live or dead bait, just a bucktail or a large twister. They can spot the ling on their fishfinders, pretty much in the lake trout spots. Possibly they fish a bit deeper than for trout but not by much, 10 feet maybe. These guys can catch ling right in the middle of the day but most of us need to fish in the evening. They seem to bite better then.

regor draagyn said...
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