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Fishing derbys chase away the winter doldrums

This week I will jump around with topics to cover a few different interest areas. The first area of discussion now that we are into January, will be the upcoming ice fishing derbies that are held all around the state. If you have not participated in any of these events you may want to give them a try. They are very family-oriented and geared more for fun and participation than for competition. All the events have great prizes, good food, fellowship, and community spirit. They are a great way to chase away some of the winter doldrums.

The next very popular event will be the "Brainerd Ice Fishing Extravaganza" held Jan. 22. from noon until 3 p.m. A bus from Detroit Lakes sponsored by a local radio station has been getting locals to this event safely for several years.

This year the DL Breakfast Rotary club is sponsoring "Poles and Holes", an event on Little Detroit Feb. 12 from noon until 3 p.m. Registration will take place on the ice before the event.

A couple of other very popular events include, (but are not limited to): "Fishapolooza" in Forest Lake on Feb. 26. And of course the most famous event on the ice in Minnesota is the 32nd annual "International Eelpout Festival" held on Leech Lake in Walker, Feb. 20-22. Mark these dates on your calendar, especially our own DL event.

The second area of discussion for this week is a follow-up from the Nov. 14 article that shared several different ways to prepare your fish, including my wife Mary's recipe (my all-time favorite way to eat walleye). Fish can be baked, boiled, broiled, deep-fried, pan fried, microwaved, grilled, pickled, and even eaten as sushi. I received a few other suggestions for eating fish that I would like to pass along to you.

I had forgotten to mention poached fish (as a cooking style, not getting them out of season!). The poached recipe is slow cooking your fillets in a sauce of lemon butter, lemon juice, with dill weed, chopped onion and garlic. You can create many variations of this, and cook to your own liking by mixing up the spices.

Other fish preparations passed along include making fish tacos, making fish chowder, or pan frying in light oil with a crushed almond coating. I had mentioned a number of coatings/breading that are used for fish. Some are sold pre-packaged and are very convenient to use. One I had not mentioned that was shared by John and Glenda Store of Quality Bait was the use of potato buds after dipping in milk before pan-frying. All I can say is that this must be tried.

I was also reminded of the Laabs family original "walleye pizza." Mary makes a homemade whole-wheat crust; walleye is sliced into small pieces and added as a topping along with mushrooms, onions, and a couple different cheeses. Keep the sauce thin. Sounds weird, but tastes great. It is hard to beat being able to cook what you catch.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)