Step-by-Step Advice for an Awesome Shore Lunch

A little prep work, some lard and one special ingredient are all it takes to make a memorable shore lunch.

Step-by-Step Advice for an Awesome Shore Lunch

How to make a great shore lunch. (Photo by Brad Fenson)

The explorers who used waterways as early travel routes regularly caught fish and ate them fresh for lunch. The high-protein meal would keep them energized for the rest of the working day. For anglers, a tasty shore lunch can induce a food coma that requires a short siesta under the summer sun. The meal is a midday reward that leaves anglers feeling content, proud of their fishing skills and maybe even a bit gluttonous.

Plan the lunch before heading out to fish and prepare a kit with things needed for the meal, from cooking utensils to ingredients. Having items ready to go in a standalone kit allows a fishing crew to make lunch quickly and efficiently, which means more time on the water.

The anticipation of a scrumptious shore lunch often prompts anglers to keep fish early in the day to ensure they can enjoy the time-honored meal. Agree ahead of time how many fish the crew will need for lunch, especially if fishing from more than one boat.

Shore Lunch
Steps to a great shore lunch: 1. Bring the HeatStep; 2. Toss in Sauce; 3. Crisp with Lard; 4. Serve the Feast. (Photos by Brad Fenson)

Step 1: Bring the Heat

After landing at the shore-lunch location, gather firewood and get the flames roaring to develop a good coal bed. While the fire is blazing, fillet the fish and prepare them for coating and cooking. A portable propane stove with two or three burners, such as the Camp Chef Summit or Ranger III, works well in areas where open fires are not possible or permitted.


Step 2: Toss in Sauce

The guides at Cree River Lodge in northern Saskatchewan know how to make a shore lunch memorable. Their special ingredient: Frank’s RedHot. Follow their method by tossing fillets in a plastic bag with a cup of the hot sauce until all flesh is coated. The sauce is not overpowering and the heat does not come through in the cooked fish, but it does add a nice flavor.


Dump several cups of flour into a second bag and add the sauced fillets one at a time, tossing regularly to coat the fish and to prevent the fillets from sticking together. Use enough flour to cover all of the fillets. No moist spots should show through the coating.

Step 3: Crisp with Lard

When the fire has died and the coal bed is glowing orange, place a large cast-iron frying pan on a grate about 12 inches above the coals. Add lard and allow it to melt until the bottom of the pan is covered by a half inch of liquid. The lard is ready for the fish when a bit of flour flicked into the pan sizzles.

Good old-fashioned lard will not burn like butter, olive oil and other pressed vegetable oils. Lard, which is rendered pork fat, will crisp the fish to a delectable golden brown. A war breaks out in the pan, where the lard will not let the moisture escape from the fish and the moisture contained in the fish will not let in the lard. The result is a crisp outer coating and a hot, moist fillet inside.

If lard is not available, peanut or canola oil will work.


A proper shore lunch always has accompaniments. Fried potatoes and onions, with a side of beans or corn, are natural complements. Coleslaw is another good option, as it can be made the night before and stands up to the abuse of a moving boat when stored in a cooler.

Dice the potatoes into half-inch pieces, and chop the onion. Again, use lard in a large skillet to fry the potatoes. It creates a finished product like what would come out of a properly heated deep fryer. Having someone serve as full-time potato turner is the best way to ensure golden, crunchy potato nuggets.

The order of cooking a shore lunch’s components is important. Put the potatoes on the grate first, as they will take the most time to finish. Set cans of beans and corn on the outer edges of the grate to ensure they do not burn. Open their lids most of the way and tip them open so the cans do not cook over. Start cooking the fish after everything else is on the grate.


Cooking the fish in large pieces or whole fillets will expedite the process of getting lunch on the table. The lard will cook the fish fast, so watch it carefully. Turn the fillets and cook until both sides are crisp and brown. Place cooked fish in a foil pan until ready to eat, but do not cover it tightly, as it will cause the coating on the fish to get soft. When everything is cooked, pour the lard off the potatoes and add the onions, which will take little time to soften.

Step 4: Serve the Feast

Mound thefish and sides on a plate, and place it away from the fire to ensure nothing gets burned. As the feast begins, it’s nice to have sauces on the side to go with the fish. Try a little hot sauce or barbecue sauce, or combine it with ranch dressing. Of course the old standby, tartar sauce, always works. Don’t be surprised if everyone goes back for seconds or thirds, but leftovers are never a problem. Store them in a cooler, and they can quickly transform into fish tacos for a snack.

Shore Lunch
If lard is not available, peanut or canola oil will work. (Photo by Brad Fenson)

Lunch Tips

  • Cut small pieces of wood to place on the coals when extra heat is needed without lots of flames.
  • Bring long-handled tongs and spatulas to keep hands as far away from the heat source as possible. Fire-resistant cooking gloves are another smart addition to the shore-lunch box.
  • Keep a knife sharpener in the kit, as cleaning fish can quickly dull a blade.
  • Pack canned fruit, as it’s an easy dessert that does not have to be opened if everyone is full from the main course.
  • Always clean up the lunch site when the meal is over; take out everything that was brought in. If necessary, clean up after others who used the spot but were not as thoughtful.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

G Loomis NRX Rods

G Loomis NRX Rods

Whatever the target species, these rods feel good in the fly shop when you're giving them a test drive.

Bowfishing from the Bank (Video)

Bowfishing from the Bank (Video)

There aren't many better ways to spend a summer night than skewering fish in the shallows.

How to Drift Rivers for Summertime Catfish

How to Drift Rivers for Summertime Catfish

While anchoring up is a good way to catch summertime catfish, so too is floating the current line on a local river. As Jeff Williams explains on this episode of Outdoors with Ole Pops, it’s as easy as finding fish with your electronics, pinpointing the action with a Garmin Panoptix LiveScope, and dropping the right rig of a weight, circle hook and Team Catfish Fiber Nugget down below. Just remember, the strikes can be subtle even when you’re watching the live action, so don’t miss!

To learn more and to purchase Team Catfish and Wohali tackle, click here to visit their website.

Saltx 4000 And 6000 Spinning Reels

Saltx 4000 And 6000 Spinning Reels

Fully sealed design to The new Saltx 4000 & 6000 Spinning Reels will come with a fully sealed design to keep to prevent saltwater or sand intrusion. It features a titanium-coated line roller, and Saltx a 50-pound max drag. MSRP $399.99to prevent saltwater or sand intrusion.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

A quick look at offerings from SPRO for 2020-21. Baits & Lures

New from ICAST: Rattle Little John; Essential Series

Game & Fish Staff - July 13, 2020

A quick look at offerings from SPRO for 2020-21.

When spring and summertime high water comes to your favorite catfish lake, how do you catch these popular fish in a suddenly flooded environment? Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish in High Water

Game & Fish Staff

When spring and summertime high water comes to your favorite catfish lake, how do you catch...

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix them. Fishing How-To

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix...

See More Trending Articles

More Fishing How-To

Water levels in many of the West's trout rivers drop from high to moderate through July. Here's how to capitalize on this change. Trout & Salmon

How to Target River Trout in Transition

Scott Haugen - July 10, 2020

Water levels in many of the West's trout rivers drop from high to moderate through July....

Shellcrackers are among the largest and most delicious panfish species, and also one of the most clever. Panfish

Summer Shell Game for Redear Sunfish

Keith Sutton - July 15, 2020

Shellcrackers are among the largest and most delicious panfish species, and also one of the...

Saltwater species can become lethargic as water temperatures rise and oxygen levels fall. Mix it up with these lures to wake the dead. Saltwater

Shake, Rattle & Roll for Inshore Saltwater Action

Mike Marsh - August 04, 2020

Saltwater species can become lethargic as water temperatures rise and oxygen levels fall. Mix...

As bass retreat from summer's warm weather it's time for 'football season.' Bass

Football Jig: Go Deep for Summer Bass

Mike Pehanich - July 13, 2020

As bass retreat from summer's warm weather it's time for 'football season.'

See More Fishing How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

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 mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now