Skip to main content Skip to main content

Fish Dinner by the Lake

Next time you're looking for a break from ringing mobile phones and the fast-paced daily grind, consider a remote fishing trip and some fine eating from a makeshift kitchen

Fish Dinner by the Lake
Fish Dinner by the Lake

It was by a fortuitous quirk of circumstance I found the old grill. One corner protruded from mud and leaves, and I saw this when I left the johnboat to cast for bream along the bank of the oxbow lake.

I passed by it at first, but after catching a couple of big bluegills, I headed back to the boat so I could put the fish in a basket, and on the way, I pulled the rusty, bent-up piece of metal from the muck in which it had been buried, apparently, for quite some time.

“Whatcha got?” my friend, Lewis, asked as I walked up.

“Looks like a wire shelf out of a refrigerator,” I said. “I figure it’ll come in handy when we cook these fish later. It’ll make a good place to set the skillet over the fire.”

“We have plenty of fish already,” said Jack, who was landing a fat black bluegill. “I’m starving, too. What do you say we get a fire going and start cooking now?”

Lewis and I concurred.

Finding the grill might not have been unusual elsewhere. But we were fishing a little cypress lake far off the beaten path. The nearest paved road with more than three miles distant. Few people ever fished there.

One had, though, and that person probably camped by the lake and had brought the makeshift grill to cook on. Rather than dirty his other possessions with the sooty grid when he went home, he just left the grill, thinking someone else might find use for it.

We did.

While Lewis gathered firewood, Jack and I found a few big rocks for a fire ring and grill rest. Then I got the fire going while Lewis cleaned fish and Jack peeled potatoes and onions.

“How many should I clean?” Lew asked. “We have 36 in the basket.”

“I can eat a dozen by myself,” I replied.

“And I can eat another dozen,” said Jack.

“Three dozen it is then,” said Lew.

We had brought everything needed for this occasion: a cast-iron skillet, cooking oil, seasoned corn meal, a spatula, paper plates, eating utensils … everything but a grill to set the skillet on, which Providence generously provided.

The pan-dressed bluegills soon were sizzling in the hot oil alongside a pile of taters and onions. By the time the food was ready, the aroma had us salivating like Pavlov’s dog. Lew complained I was drooling in the skillet.

Had all the great chefs of the world come together to collaborate on the most delicious meal ever prepared, they could not have created a dish more delectable. And certainly, no restaurant could compare when it came to ambience.

Sitting in the shade of 500-year-old cypress trees, we stuffed ourselves while enjoying nature’s dinner theater. Whip-poor-wills serenaded us. Fish danced on the lake’s mirrored surface. Frogs sang. A barred owl took the stage. Who-cooks-for-you? Who-cooks-for-you?

“Doesn’t get no better’n this,” Jack said.

Lew and I, mouths stuffed, nodded in agreement.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Popular Videos

Beyond the Bait: Are Bladed Jigs Good Baits for Catching Smallmouth?

Beyond the Bait: Are Bladed Jigs Good Baits for Catching Smallmouth?

Bladed jigs are one of the hottest trends in bass fishing right now, but what makes them so effective? In this episode of Beyond the Bait, we'll answer that question especially as it relates to smallmouths and go over some tactics that will result in more hookups.

 The Inspiring Side of Skeet Reese You

The Inspiring Side of Skeet Reese You've Never Heard Before

If you're a longtime fan of professional bass fishing, it's all but impossible to not see the presence that California angler Skeet Reese has had in the sport.

Beyond the Bait: How to Find Smallmouth - Reading the Water

Beyond the Bait: How to Find Smallmouth - Reading the Water

In order to catch smallmouths, you must first find smallmouths. That often comes down to knowing what type of water the fish prefer depending on the season, as well as understanding how they relate to structure. In this episode of Beyond the Bait, we'll cover these topics in order to help you locate more fish.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now