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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

October 16, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Chef Tom Douglas dishes up advice and methods on cooking trout to perfection

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Trout fishing will likely carry on well into the holiday season thanks to state Fish and Wildlife stocking 33 Western Washington lakes with 75,000 rainbow trout.

As a result many anglers will coming home with stringers full of trout, and seeking out ways to “wow” the folks at the dining table.

Seattle chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas is a contributor of some of his tasty cooking advice and recipes for the Reel Time Fishing NW blog in our Catch of the Week each Wednesday through October. Catch of the Day will also include recipes from other local chefs, tackle shop owners and fish-market owners.

Douglas is owner of Lola, Palace Kitchen, Dahlia Lounge, Dahlia Bakery, Etta’s, Serious Pie Downtown, Seatown, Brave Horse Tavern, Cuoco, Serious Biscuit and Serious Pie Westlake. Another new Douglas restaurant that just opened is Tanaka San at the Via6 Apartment Complex in downtown Seattle.

Here are some suggestions by Chef Tom Douglas on how to serve trout:

The “Applewood Grill” section of Palace Kitchen’s menu has featured whole grilled Idaho trout since the day we opened.  This trout is a hit with our customers for good reason- the skin of the fish is always beautifully crisp and crackling, and the flesh is moist and tasty.

What are the secrets to Palace Kitchen grilled trout?

First we stuff the inside of the whole fish with lemon slices and thyme sprigs. Then we rub the fish with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Use plenty of oil so the skin will crisp- though not so much oil that you cause a flare-up on the grill.  Score the skin deeply  enough to pick up some smoke flavor from the grill, then grill the fish over a fairly hot applewood fire until the skin is crisp and the flesh inside is done just enough to flake.  Over a hot fire, the Idaho rainbow trout we use at Palace are exactly the right size to get very crispy on the outside while at the same time cooking to the perfect, moist doneness inside.

This summer, the Palace cooks pickled a large vat of peppers from our own Prosser Farm so they could use them on the menu during the Farm’s off season months.

Right now, Palace whole grilled trout is served topped with crisp, crunchy, salty Marcona almonds, those pickled peppers, and sprigs of fresh, green parsley tossed in the pickling juices, along  with mashed Satina potatoes and the last of the Prosser braising greens on the side.

This makes a hugely satisfying dinner paired with a nice bottle of wine.  Try a full bodied white, like a Chenin Blanc or a Vouvray, to stand up to the smoky, grilled flavor of the fish.

In case you missed it, here is my story on where to catch trout this fall and winter that ran in this past Sunday’s paper:

There’s a degree of sadness for trout anglers once fall arrives in the Pacific Northwest.

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The days are getting shorter. The weather becomes less tolerable. And most of all the chances of hooking a fish have started to wind down dramatically.

At this point many are storing their fishing equipment until next spring, but recently state Fish and Wildlife began to look at ways of extending the trout season into the winter holidays.

“We have known in the past that (the late-fall trout fishery) at Beaver Lake have always been popular when many other fisheries like the salmon season were winding down,” said Aaron Bosworth, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

Chris Donley, the state Fish and Wildlife inland lakes program manager, knew there was some great spring and summer trout fishing, but wanted to look beyond that time frame.

“I unofficially asked people what we were missing in the Puget Sound region, and they all agreed a fall trout fishery would be appealing to them,” Donley said. “So then I looked at ways to capitalize on that, and felt increasing opportunities would be a good way to extend the season while the weather is still nice.”

Donley titled this new program “Fall into Fishing” and hatchery crews have already been busy stocking 33 Western Washington lakes with 75,000 large rainbow trout.

This new stocking effort also coincides with what turned out to be a popular event last year called “Black Friday” when some lakes were stocked to offer opportunities the day after Thanksgiving.

Donley says they invested money by purchasing fish from Trout Lodge (a global supplier of quality rainbow trout), and also found ways to raise and grow larger trout in their own hatchery facilities.

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“A lot of the fish we had in the hatcheries would have been released in the spring (for the late April opening day of trout fishing), but we kept them to be stocked this fall,” Bosworth said. “A lot of people want to fish for trout at this time of the year and we hope this pleases the crowd.”

Four lakes already have been stocked: Morton Lake near Covington got 1,000 trout; Green in North Seattle received 5,088; Meridian east of Kent got 3,000; and Silver off the Everett-Bothell Highway received 2,000. Beaver Lake in Sammamish also will get 2,500 this month.

“We’ll see where this program goes and how well it turns out,” Donley said. “It will continue in future years with a baseline of 55,000 fish, but I’m hoping to grow it to 200,000 and maybe we can pull things out of the hat to make it happen.”

State Fish and Wildlife does offer some “offseason” fishing opportunities like the Eastern Washington Dec. 1 trout opener as well as a much less publicized October opener in the Okanogan area.

All the planted rainbows average 12 to 17 inches, and are peppered with some bigger 5- to 6-pounders.

Here is a list of more lakes getting plants this and next month:

Pierce County: American, 4,150 trout; Bonney, 300; Bradley, 770 (20 fish are 5-6 pounds); Harts, 750; Kapowsin, 4,000 (1,200 will average 1.5 pounds and will be planted in November); and Whitman, 100 averaging 2-3 pounds.

Thurston County: Black, 4,500; Long’s Pond, 200; Munn, 500; Offutt, 1,050; Ohop, 1,750; St. Clair, 1,750; Lawrence, 2,500; and Long, 2,500.

Jefferson County: Gibbs, 370; Leland, 2,975 (2,000 planted this month, and 975 for Black Friday); and Teal, 155.

Mason County: Island, 2,180; Lost, 2,420; Nahwatzel, 5,000; and Spencer, 6,400 (4,400 planted this month, and 2,000 for Black Friday).

Others planted for Black Friday are:

Lewis County: Fort Borst Park Pond, 2,000; and South Lewis County Park Pond, 2,000.

Cowlitz County: Kress, 2,000.

Clark County: Klineline Pond, 2,000; and Battleground, 2,000.

Klickitat County: Rowland, 2,000.

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