The Kesagami River Solo Episode 4 Pan Frying Walleye

The Kesagami River Solo Episode 4 Pan Frying Walleye


I pitched a #5 Mepps spinner behind a submerged, mid-river boulder, and a nice Pickerel, or Walleye as many call it, came up from the depths to crush my lure. It was my first Pickerel of the trip, and I was happy, it’s no secret that they’re one of the best tasting fish out there.


Mepps #5 fire tiger black dots
Mepps #5 fire tiger black dots


After making some distance down river, I heard a deep and distinct animal noise coming from the woods. Even though I was floating in the middle of the river, a relatively safe place to be, the sound was still a little unnerving. After all, Sasquatch sightings are on the rise in northern Ontario. The deep-pitched rumble was more than enough to give me a respectful understanding of the animal’s power.
I figured it was a moose, not because I recognized this call specifically, it’s different than the bull grunts and cow calls I’m familiar with, but because I used the process of elimination. It couldn’t have be a Bear, Deer, or Caribou, making a noise like that and, it didn’t sound like a cat at all, so it had to be a Moose I figured. Still, I had little clue why it was making the noise, nor was I 100% sure what was making it.
Amazingly, it wouldn’t take long for me to learn the mystery behind the call. Further down river I heard the call again, followed by the distinct sound of moose feet splashing through a swamp. I stood up to see a cow and calf moose hurriedly leaving a large swamp off the west bank of the river. I snapped a pic as the cow made the deep  grunting noise to warn her calf of danger – the danger being me. The animals disappeared into the bush, re-emerging down wind about 800meters away. They were moving at a steady pace before the cow caught wind of me, and then after stopping to stare in my direction, she broke into a run with her calf in tow. It was an interesting experience to learn more about these animals, and witness their heightened senses.
Cow and Calf Moose Along the Kesagami River. Photo Jim Baird
Cow and Calf Moose off the west bank of the Kesagami River. Photo Jim Baird
With few dry places to camp in the region, I was lucky to find a decent, elevated spot come evening. Soon, I had a small cooking fire going and I began to clean my fish. Two kilometers down river, the massive expanse of Lake Kesagami awaited, and I hoped the good weather would hold for my crossing of the big lake.
The author's campsite along the Kesagami. Photo Jim Baird
The author’s campsite along the Kesagami. Photo Jim Baird
Here’s how to pan fry fillets to perfection
Filleting a Pickerel:
• With your fish on top of a paddle, following the fish’s spine with your knife, cutting from the tail to the gills. Cut through the rib cage on the way and then slice the fillet off by cutting downwards behind the gills.
• Flip the fillet over and slice off the rib cage.
• Slice off the skin either by placing your free hand firmly on top of the meat while slicing, or by holding the end of the skin at the tail as you cut away from yourself. The skin side should be down.
• Repeat these steps for the other side of the fish.
The author's Pickerel awaits filleting. Photo Jim Baird
The author’s Pickerel awaits filleting. Photo Jim Baird
Pan Frying:
• Add a liberal amount of cooking oil to your frying pan and place it over the fire or on a cooking stove. Note: It’s best to use more oil than I do in this video, but consider conserving if on a multi-week trip.
• While the oil heats, thoroughly cote fillets in Fish Crisp powder. Don’t have Fish Crisp? Use flour or even pancake mix.
• Test to make sure oil is hot by flicking a couple droplets of water on it. If the water droplets pop and sizzle in the oil, you’re good to go.
• Lay the fillets into the hot oil. They should make an appealing sizzling sound as you do this.
• Flip once when the underside is golden brown.
• When both sides are golden brown, remove the fillet from the pan, let it cool, and enjoy. There’s noting like it!
The author pan frying some Pickerel along the Kesagami. Photo Jim Baird
The author pan fries some Pickerel along the Kesagami. Photo Jim Baird
Pickerel Vs. Walleye:
In most of English speaking Canada, Sander Vitreus, or Walleye is often called Pickerel. This can get a little confusing for some as Grass Pickerel and Chain Pickerel are a different species than Walleye. However, Grass and Chain Pickerel are not comparatively distributed in Canadian waters. Most Canadian provincial and federal literature categorize Sander Vitreus as Walleye. None the less, it is still widely referred to across Canada as Pickerel. Weather this is technically erroneous or not, in Canada, it is accepted as correct. And, the fish is sold as Pickerel by national grocery store chains; but it’s still okay to call them Walleye in Canada too.
Photo Jim Baird
Photo Jim Baird