Fishing for trout is a lot of fun and a great way to catch your own healthy meal.

On a recent fishing trip we decided to have our meal right on the banks of the lake. Since we were backpacking we had a camp stove, frying pan, butter to grease the pan and some crushed Dot’s pretzels for a little seasoning.

Then the only problem was catching the fish. They were finicky but we managed to land enough for a tasty, fresh lunch.

To fry the trout I cut just the meaty sides off the fish. This is called filleting. It works much easier if you have a fillet knife, which is long and skinny. As I filleted the fish I realized that one of them had white meat, whereas the others had very pink meat. I wondered why.

After doing some research I found that the most likely reason is that the fish may have been eating different food than its school friends. Small shrimp-like creatures, like crawdads and scuds, contain a chemical called carotenoid. This is the same chemical that makes carrots orange, salmon meat orangey and flamingoes pink. Eating even tiny shrimp will make a fish’s meat orange.

Another explanation was that the fish may have lost its color after spawning, which depletes the fish’s energy supply, stressing its body and muscles.

Or maybe it was a slightly different type of fish, such as a hybrid. A hybrid is made of two different kinds of fish mixed together. When a cutthroat trout and rainbow trout mix, the result is a cutbow — a cross between the two different species.

No matter what the reason was, the fish all tasted the same: like freshly caught trout. If it hadn’t been so dry and the fire danger so high, we could have wrapped the fish in foil and cooked them on the coals. That’s one of my other favorite ways to cook fresh-caught fish.

— Brett French, Billings Gazette

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