Gordon has been sea fishing and cooking since childhood. He loves coming up with tasty ways of cooking his fresh catch when he gets home.
What Are You Going to Eat on Your Trip?
Fishing is one of the most popular outdoor pastimes in the world. Whether it be freshwater fly fishing on the banks of an idyllic river or stream, or deep sea fishing from the deck of a purpose-built boat, millions of people regularly participate in the sport. As most fishermen will know, however, all that time spent outdoors makes for hungry work, and very often, fishermen will eat far more while actually fishing than they would otherwise have done at home.
Although the tips and information featured on this page are specifically aimed at fishermen in all the sport's many disciplines, they may also prove extremely useful to those interested in other outdoor pursuits. Campers, hikers, hunters, sailors, and more may find these ideas perfectly suited to aid them in their own circumstances and requirements.
There are, unfortunately, a number of practical considerations that fishermen have to take into account when preparing their fishing trip menu. These considerations relate to both the food items, as well as how they are packaged and carried. It is to these considerations that this page is devoted, in the hope that it will help fishermen everywhere enjoy their fishing trip and food to the fullest.
Top Points to Consider in Advance
- What type of fishing are you doing? If you are going freshwater fly fishing, your hands are likely to be a lot cleaner than if you are bait fishing on the sea. It is important to bear this in mind (for hygiene and practical reasons) when deciding which food to take on your fishing trip.
- How much food can you carry/store on your trip? If you are fishing a remote river or stream where you have some hiking to do, you will want to keep the sum total of what you are carrying to a minimum. Don't forget also that if you are fishing from a small boat. Storage space may be limited, so large cool boxes, purely for food, may be impractical.
- What will the weather be like during your trip? Fishing a river in summer is very different from deep sea fishing in winter. Consider whether cold food is ideal or whether an effort should be made to have hot food and drink in your supplies.
- How long is your trip? This is likely only to apply to trips of more than one day. Ensure that you take only food that will last the duration of your trip — or at least that you eat perishables in the first instance.
- How hungry are you likely to be? Consider the location of your trip. You should know that your appetite is likely to be enhanced by the sea air. Keep this in mind when deciding how much food to take with you.
- What are you having to drink? When planning the food for your fishing trip, don't forget to think about drinks. Fresh water, coffee, and soup are all ideal in different conditions. Remember that alcohol is a big NO, especially where you are boat fishing.
- What is your food budget? Fishing trips can be an expensive activity when you take into account the cost of everything from fuel, to boat hire, to bait. This may mean that you are looking to keep your food expenses down by, for example, making your own sandwiches rather than buying them pre-packed.
1. Pre-Packed Pies and Pasties
Although it may play havoc with your budget and for this reason should be a last resort, pre-packed pies and pasties are available in a great variety. They often come in easy-to-open plastic wrapping (like the pork pie pictured), which can be very effectively used as a napkin for holding the pie as you eat it. If you are buying pies or anything pre-packed for your fishing trip, you should try to buy it before leaving your home area. Food of this type in rural areas may be considerably more expensive than it is elsewhere.
2. Homemade Cornish Style Beef and Onion Pasty
Meat pies and pasties of many types are excellent food for fishermen because they are often both substantial and filling. However, when we are making our own pies or pasties, we are faced with the problem of how to eat them with filthy hands.
The story goes that in previous centuries, the women of Cornwall, England solved this problem in a simple yet ingenious way. When making lunches for the men going down the mines, they made a wide crust around the edge and carefully crimped it. The men held this part of the crust with their hands, ate the meat and pastry in the centre, and then discarded the soiled crust. This recipe is by no means traditional, but it is this idea of the crimped crust which I have borrowed.
- Per pasty, you will need principally 1/4 lbs. minced/ground beef, 1/2 small onion, and 8 oz. puff pastry.
- Put the beef in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- Chop the onion and mix it with the beef very thoroughly by hand. Take care to squeeze the mixture together.
- Roll out the pastry on a floured surface that is big enough to cut a circle with a 12" dinner plate.
- Lay the beef mixture in one half of the circle as shown, leaving a border of around 1 1/2 inches.
- Beat an egg in a bowl and use a pastry brush to wet the border of the pastry.
- Fold over the other half of the circle and crimp well.
- Make 2 or 3 slits on the top to let steam escape during cooking.
- Place on a baking tray and glaze well with more beaten egg.
- Bake in an oven that is preheated to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5 for forty-five to fifty minutes, until the pastry is beautifully golden and the meat is cooked.
3. Roast Chicken
If you are having roast chicken for dinner the night before your fishing trip — or you can arrange to do so — the leg and thigh portions make excellent fishing trip food. At the risk of alienating your family, claim both drumsticks for your lunch the next day. Allow them to cool and refrigerate them overnight to enjoy mess-free munching at its best. Alternatively, check whether your supermarket sells raw chicken legs and cook them especially for the occasion.
4. Salads and Fruit
The salad pictured above is unlikely to be suitable for a bait fisherman out on the sea. For a fly fisherman by the river on a beautiful summer's day, however, it can be a thoroughly refreshing snack, if not an actual meal. It is simply a whole tomato, 2" of cucumber sliced lengthwise with the seeds scraped out, and a hard boiled egg. A small amount of salt and/or pepper (wrapped in greaseproof paper or even tinfoil) can be tucked into the corner of the dish to provide seasoning.
If you are put off by the (harmless) blue/grey tinge, which often forms around the yolk of cooled, hard boiled eggs, try this cooking method.
Instructions for Hard Boiled Eggs
- Ensure the egg is at room temperature (i.e., it has been removed from the refrigerator at least a couple of hours earlier).
- Place it in a pot of cold water and bring the water to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for seven minutes.
- Run the pot under cold water for twenty to thirty seconds until the egg is cool enough to handle.
- Crack the shell on a hard surface and peel the egg under running cold water. Submerge it in a basin of cold water to cool it quickly. You will not get the blue/grey tinge.
Most types of fruit are inappropriate for fishermen, whose hands are likely to be covered in any number of substances, which are not safe when munching apples or pears. Bananas, however, could almost be described as nature's very own fisherman's friend. Just as they are eaten at home, the banana is peeled and eaten without any need to touch the edible part of the fruit. Bananas, therefore, provide a nourishing and satisfying snack that can be eaten almost as quickly as bait is changed.
Sandwiches are the first option many people think of when considering what to take on a fishing trip. Aside from the cleanliness issue associated with eating, there is another principal reason why you should be careful what you put on your sandwiches. That reason is, quite simply, that it is not only your bait that can contaminate your food, but the opposite is equally true!
Fish are attracted to the scent fresh of bait more than anything else. It will very likely be the case that sandwich additions, such as mayo, will coat your hands and then the bait. This will be as off-putting to the fish as the bait would be to you — a fisherman's dreaded lose/lose situation!
Think about this very carefully when deciding what to include on your sandwiches.
Recipe 1: The Big Breakfast Sandwich With Sausage, Bacon, and Egg
One of the inconvenient factors of day fishing trips is the frequent necessity to make a very early start in the morning. This may be due to the tide times for sea fishing, or, simply, the distance you have to drive to reach the place where you intend to fish. It will not always be possible to manage any sort of breakfast before you leave home early in the morning. But, this big breakfast sandwich can be just the ticket.
Imagine sitting on the deck of a boat. As you slowly motor out to sea, looking forward to your day's fishing, you feel and even hear your stomach grumbling. Wouldn't a bit of sausage, bacon, and egg go down well? We don't often eat or even think about eating sausage, bacon, and egg served cold, but it is absolutely delicious on a sandwich.
For an early morning start, these sandwiches should obviously be prepared the night before and refrigerated. To make two satisfying big breakfast sandwiches (like the one in the pictures) you will need the following:
1 6” pork sausage
4 rashers of bacon
1 12” French style bread stick
HP Sauce (optional)
Oil for frying
- Begin by adding enough oil to generously cover the base of a non-stick frying pan.
- Put the sausages in and put the heat on to very low. Do not prick the sausages. It is unnecessary and will only cause the juices to be lost in the pan. The biggest mistake made when frying sausages like this is trying to fry them too quickly, over too high a heat. Fifteen to twenty minutes on very low, turning them occasionally, will cook them to perfection and not cause them to burst.
- Put your egg or eggs on to boil as described in the salad instructions further up this page. Peel them and sit them in cold water to cool completely.
- Transfer the sausages to a plate, cover, and allow to cool.
- You can then either fry the bacon in the same pan or grill it, depending upon preference. Set that aside also and cover to cool.
- When your sausage, bacon, and egg are completely cool, cut the bread stick in half across the way. Cut each part in half horizontally. Butter if desired.
- Lay two rashers of bacon on the bottom piece of the bread.
- Slice the egg as shown and lay that on top of the bacon.
- Cut your sausage in half lengthwise and place half a sausage on top of the egg.
- Add sauce if desired before placing the top on your sandwich, lightly pressing down. Wrap it in plastic film or foil.
Recipe 2: Fried Turkey Breast in Hoisin Sauce French Bread Sandwich
One way to compensate for a lack of mayo or excessive dressings on sandwiches is to cook the meat in a tasty sauce, which will not leak over your hands. Hoisin sauce is a popular Chinese sauce used both as a dip and a cooking sauce.
- Begin by marinating a 6 oz. turkey breast steak in 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce for a least a couple of hours.
- Shake off the excess sauce and pan fry the turkey breast in a little oil for five minutes each side, over a medium heat, until done. Transfer it to a plate, cover it with foil, and allow to cool completely.
- Halve a 12" French style bread stick at an angle (as shown below). Halve again horizontally and butter if desired.
- Place the turkey breast steak on a chopping board and cut in into thick strips with a sharp knife. Arrange it on one half of the bread. Then place the second half on top and press down moderately firmly.
- Wrap your sandwich in aluminium foil or plastic wrap to ensure it keeps its shape (the wrap can also be used to hold it as you eat it).
- Transfer to your plastic sandwich container.
Tips for Storing
Thermos flasks are not just for liquids. It is possible to buy thermos flasks designed specifically to contain foods and keep them warm. This is an excellent way of enjoying a hot meal while you are fishing.
The pies used in the photos are Scotch Pies, but any meat pie or pasty can be stored in this way. Be sure to heat the inside of the thermos, as well as the pies, by filling it with boiling water, leaving it for a few minutes, pouring the water out, and drying it well.
Take Home Your Own Trash
It is vital in so many ways that fishermen do their part to protect the environment upon which they depend to enjoy their sport. Do not throw plastic wrappings or bottles in to the sea and do not leave them scattered on the banks of rivers or lakes. Store your own trash/litter in a sensible fashion while you are fishing and take it with you when you leave for later disposal in an appropriate and environmentally friendly manner.
Thank you for visiting this page and taking the time to read through it. I very much hope it has given you useful ideas for your own camping, fishing, or hiking trips. Any comments or feedback that you have may be left in the space below.
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on July 19, 2019:
Wow, azaleah, that's a question and a half. Try to simply think of what you are eating as part of your diet and what can easily be eaten when fishing in a hygienic sense. Good luck with the trip and the food.
azaleah on July 19, 2019:
hi I'm going fishing today and I'm kinda on a diet whats the best for me
Elizabeth on April 18, 2019:
Great tips, thank you!
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on June 02, 2017:
Thanks Susan. I hope you enjoy the pasty and that these ideas improve the enjoyment of your trips.
Susan Sears on June 02, 2017:
Very interesting article. I never think ahead for food and land up bringing granola bars or something like that. I want to try your pasty recipe.
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on September 08, 2014:
As a sea fisherman of over forty years, "L", I can confirm I have never heard of this before. However, I only fish around the shores of the UK and I know beyond doubt there are many fishing superstitions. I have no idea which country you are writing from. I would love to hear more about this belief. Why don't you join us on the Hub Pages community and tell us all about it?
L on September 07, 2014:
Bananas are considered as bad luck in boats. Most fishing guides won't allow them on their boats.
Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on June 20, 2011:
Glad you like the Cornish pasty idea. The first time I made them, I was amazed how easy it was and how well they turned out. Hope they work for you and please the kids.
You reminded me of something with the eggs and tea. Apparently (I don't remember it) when I was a very young child, I claimed not to like white eggs, only brown ones. When my Gran only had white eggs, therefore, she used to boil them in tea and I would happily eat them without question. I must give your idea a try and really bring back the memories.
Tony Mead from Yorkshire on June 20, 2011:
what a great idea cornish pasties, I've the kids here for tea tomorrow and I was wondering what to make; they love pies and pastries.
Your other ideas are very good too.
nice tip about the eggs. try tapping the shells so they crack a little and then boil them in tea, you get marbled eggs, good for parties and kids.