May 15, 2012
By Matt Straw
In the last post we mentioned hobo crappies. Yum. Doesn't have to be as complicated as we make it. I create a sauce concocted of the flavors we like from Asian cuisine, combining some peanut sauce, or some curry paste mixed with some homemade curry powder, and we marinate for several hours or overnight with lemongrass segments in the body cavity. But you can certainly do it with any flavors you like. The key is simply adding some kind of liquid so the fish doesn't dry out in the fire. We like to burn the fire down until we have nothing left but large, hot coals, put a grate over it and let the fish simmer for a total of about 15 to 20 minutes, turning about 4 times. Vegetables stay nice and crunchy after about 10 minutes. We put them in different packets, and only two fish per packet of crappies. Easier to control the outcome. Great during spring and fall, when a fire feels really good. Great spending time watching things unfold, like the bat migration.
When bats follow the Mississippi north from the caves where they hibernate in southern Minnesota, it's nothing short of awe inspiring. Millions of them dodging trees and each other, filtering through the forest all around you while dense, black clouds of bats come swarming up the river channel, clearing out flying insects for miles. With all the trouble bats are facing, continent-wide these days, I sometimes feel it's a Last Chance To See scenario — referring, of course, to the BBC series and subsequent book by the famous science-fiction humorist, Douglas Adams — wherein he travels the world in hopes of catching a glimpse of animals on the brink of extinction.
Luckily, crappies won't be going extinct any time soon. Anglers protect them and, more importantly, we protect their habitat. We pay license fees, which pay for studies on how to improve that habitat. We accept lower limits when they're necessary and at least 90-percent of us abide by them. We show up to protest when extraction processes, development, and other events threaten them. Just because we eat a few certainly doesn't mean we advocate munching them into extinction.
Not so many advocates for bats, unfortunately. Not looking forward to the flood of mosquitoes that will ensue if they disappear, as they have in so many areas out East. Makes it difficult to tend the fire, and adds another void to the "great emptiness of spirit" Chief Seattle warned us about almost 300 years ago.