The Canadian Shore Lunch Tradition
A wild fish fry-up along the water’s edge is known as a shore lunch, and is a tradition everyone should enjoy at least once in their lives. The Canadian shore lunch is when whatever fish species you happen to catch is cooked fresh along the lake or river shoreline. My favourite shore lunch species happens to be walleye and, as you’ll soon learn, there is a Gogama-area lodge custom-made for this special activity.
In order to make your shore lunch truly successful, you will require a few crucial pieces of equipment: two large skillets, butter, cooking oil, seasoning, utensils, flour or fish crisp, a suitable side dish such as potatoes or rice, and a source of heat. You can certainly use a small naphtha or propane stove but the more traditional shore lunches are carried-out over an open fire.
After enjoying freshly caught fish cooked to perfection in the great outdoors, you will never want to eat at home again!
There are copious lodges and resorts in Ontario’s north quite suitable for this succulent shore activity. J & L Lakeview Retreat in Gogama, for example, is the picture-perfect locale to cook fresh fish along the expansive shoreline of Lake Minisinakwa. Meet lodge owner Jim Loiselle, a man whom I had the good fortune meeting and spending time with, back in 1991, during a Sir Sandford Fleming College (SSFC) Fish & Wildlife field camp.
The man who declares that ‘fishing & hunting are my life’ explained that most of his fishing clientele target walleye, and often partake in a shore lunch while staying at his lodge. It’s an activity Jim has himself done many times because “you just can’t beat the taste of fresh-caught walleye or pickerel,” as Jim and most Ontario natives refer to them.
When Jim Loiselle isn’t helping his clients catch (& eat) wonderful walleye from the bays and shoals of Lake Minisinakwa, he’s hosting the annual Gogama Live Release Walleye Tournament. Now into its second year, the popular event not only showcases the amazing walleye opportunities on Minisinakwa, it has helped foster a sense of conservation and catch & release. As Jim explained to me, though the lake boasts a ton of decent-sized ‘eyes’, he knows every body of water requires a helping hand to ensure a sustainable population.
The walleye season in this region (Zone 8) is open all year, save for the period of April 14th to the 3rd Saturday in May. The catch limit is four fish per person, with no one fish being larger than 48 cm’s.
For your next ‘short lunch adventure’, whether visiting Gogama or some other awesome northern region, give this shore lunch recipe a try from my award-winning Canadian Fishing Cookbook, published by Canada’s authority on cooking, Company’s Coming. It is my personal favourite and is guaranteed to please.
This famous Beer-battered Walleye recipe has been an Ontario standby for years, as it blends two of the province’s favourite pastimes: living off the fat of the land and beer drinking, of course. Perhaps the province’s most sought-after sport fish, the walleye is often called old marble eyes, golden perch or “eyes” by many anglers.
- Peanut or sunflower oil, for deep-frying
- 3 cups flour, divided
- 1¾ tsp salt, plus extra for sprinkling
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 × 341 mL bottles beer
- 2 lbs (1 kg) walleye fillets
Place oil in deep-fryer to depth recommended by manufacturer and preheat to 370º F (188° C). Mix 2 ½ cups flour, salt and cayenne pepper together in bowl, then whisk in beer until smooth in consistency. Place remaining flour on plate. Pat walleye fillets dry with paper towel then dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Dip each fillet one by one into batter and then gently place in hot oil. Deep-fry until golden brown, turning only once. Use slotted spoon (never a fork!) to transfer fish to paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle lightly with salt and enjoy!
A Fishing & Hunting Destination
I was so tickled to hear that things are going swimmingly for Jim and J & L Lakeview Retreat. Though it has been 25 years since I visited, I will never forget the experience! After spending a week of studying fisheries with a group of aspiring young fish & wildlife biologists, being taken care of by Jim at the lodge was something special. Jim Loiselle lives and breathes the Province’s north country and does his utmost to ensure that clients are productive and happy. He also runs a large bear hunting operation in the spring under the name Watershed Bear Outfitters. I’m told he will be outfitting some moose hunts this fall as well.
Anyone planning a visit to this wonderful and still virtually untouched region, do yourself a favour and give Jim Loiselle at J & L Lakeview Retreat a call. I guarantee you will be provided with a full stringer of fish and full belly after the tastiest shore lunch possible!
Visit J & L Lakeview Retreat online, or contact Jim Loiselle at (705) 894-2413 for more information.