Fishing: a lesson in mindfulness, awareness and resourcefulness
For many, fishing is a wonderful, accessible way to disconnect from our busy lives and destress while being in a natural environment. It’s an activity that forces us to slow down, practice patience and be mindful of our surroundings and the present moment. And, because the best places to fish are often a little off the beaten path, its an excuse like no other to explore and learn about local landscapes and wildlife.
Not to be overlooked, fishing is also a great step toward understanding where our food comes from and truly appreciating what it takes to feed ourselves. Whether you prefer catch-and-release fishing or plan to take charge of the whole process of earning your own dinner, there’s little doubt that fishing makes us a little more thoughtful and a lot more grateful for the food we eat.
In spite of what seasoned anglers will say, beyond a mandatory Ontario Outdoors Card and fishing licence, fishing doesn’t require much skill or equipment to get started, in fact many of Ontario’s provincial parks have a Tackleshare program that allows beginners to borrow a fishing rod and tackle free of charge. What you do need before you head out is a thorough knowledge of fishing regulations, best practices and limitations, which you’ll find on the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry website.
Ontario is rich in freshwater fishing, and there’s something magical and elemental about the experience of heading off the beaten path in search of dinner. Fishing is also a wonderful family adventure that gives children and youth a hands-on lesson on biodiversity, conservation, discovery and resourcefulness that will last a lifetime. Whether or not we catch anything, we’re still left with a feeling of achievement and relaxation from spending a few hours in the natural world and reminding ourselves that food is a gift and a privilege.
Quick tips for cooking fish over a campfire:
Cleaning & preparing your fish:
If you plan on cleaning and filleting your own fish, it’s important that you have a good, sharp knife. You want nice, clean cuts for less mess and less waste. Remember to remove all innards, intestines and organs completely before rinsing your fillets well in clean water and cooking.
The fire & heat:
Use a cast iron pan or skillet over a small, low fire to avoid scorching and wasting any of your catch by exposing it directly to flames. A camp grill placed over the fire will help control the heat and stabilize your pan.
Tin foil package:
If you don't have (or don’t want to clean) a pan or skillet, wrap your fish in some tin foil and cover it with ample Ontario butter to flavour the fish and keep it from drying out as it cooks. Experiment with some lemon slices and fresh herbs like dill, lemongrass, garlic and chives. You can cook local vegetables like zucchini, asparagus, and cherry tomatoes in the same package too! You can cook the packets on the grill or on the coals, making sure to turn frequently to avoid scorching.