”Mom, what’s for dinner?” As one of five active farm kids, food was always on our minds, and I’m sure my mom heard that question several dozen times a week. She would look at us with a glint in her eye and a grin on her lips and reply, “Fish heads and rice!” In the winter, the choice got further downgraded to “Snowballs and rabbit tracks!” What was looking like a washout summer as far as business goes, with an excessive amount of time for fishing, has turned into quite the opposite.

Business is booming, and we’ve had very little time to fish. If all we had to eat was what we caught in the lake, we might actually be eating fish heads and wild rice right now! That being said, we got the opportunity to slip away to Northern Lights Lake on Wednesday afternoon for an afternoon/evening on the water. Fishing was slower than usual, and I got quite a bit of grief for snagging other people’s lines early on, but eventually we got the seating arrangement worked out. Tragically, I did have to give up my place in the helm of the boat and surrender it to one of our employees who had a longer fishing pole. After not much luck on the lake itself, we decided to venture down the river.

We’ve been known to pull some nice walleyes out of one particular deep bend in the river, so that’s where we headed for. We hadn’t been there two minutes when Zach got a hard hit… and a snap. A large fish had cut his lure right off his 14 lb test line. Meanwhile, I was fishing with the lure which has become known and the “Secret Bait” this year, as it has yet to be out-fished. Game on, fish, game on. I immediately started casting out over the same spot. I got a hit and a miss. Meanwhile, another member of the party had another fish hit and cut her lure off her line. By this time, we were getting pretty upset, considering that we had just lost two large fish and $20 worth of tackle in the span of five minutes. As the other two frantically re-tied their lines, we trolled back over the spot again. A fish hit my lure, I set the hook, and the fight was on. After an epic battle, the fish was netted and in the boat! It was a nice northern! As we went to remove my treasured “Secret Bait” from its mouth, we caught a glimpse of something sparkly sticking out the corner of its mouth. Upon further investigation, we found that not only did I catch dinner, I also caught Zach’s lost fishing lure! My lure, now, right? HA! He doesn’t think so! We ended the day with a sighting of a cow and calf moose drinking from the water as we drove back up the river faced by a beautiful sunset and a less enjoyable cloud of mosquitos.

Northern Pike are excellent if prepared right. The secrets to eating northern? First, fillet out the Y-bones so you have a boneless fillet. This is very important or your northern will be finger food. Next, salt lightly, and place in a bowl of ice water overnight. This will draw all the slime and blood out of the fillets which removes that fishy-flavor that pike are notorious for. Don’t over-salt, or your water will turn to brine. The next day, rinse well, and use immediately or freeze. Now you’ve got firm, white meat to work with!

Below, you will find the recipe I use for blacked fish fajitas, which is our favorite way to eat northern. Tip: Use a cast iron if you have one available to you!