Introduction: Solar Cooked Wild Mackerel on the Rocks
Runner Up in the
Meat Contest 2016
Fishing for mackerel is easy, fun and very satisfying, especially if we can cook the fish straight after they have been caught. There really is no other fish as tasty as 'cooked within the hour' line caught mackerel. The fish is also the perfect size to slot into a the tubes of a portable solar cooker.
Pick a nice calm, sunny day, phone up some friends and head for the beach with fishing tackle and cooker. If your wife/husband phones you - don't answer - as the sound of seagulls and the gently crashing waves and shouts of 'I've caught another one' will instantly give the game away.
This particular spot on my island is perfect for fishing from as some rocks jut out from the land and give direct access to deep water on both sides. There's also a lighthouse which will help prevent boats from crashing in and ruining our day.
Step 1: Equipment
- A rod of at least 8' is required with a spinning (fixed spool) reel - get a rod and reel combo. The line should be rated to approx. 20 lbs. This equipment is generally pretty cheap and don't be afraid to buy the cheapest combo deal in the local angling shop as this will normal do just fine.
- Get some mackeral feathers and spinners (see next step) with plenty of spares.
- For cooking in the sun I use a Gosun Solar Cooker. (Other cookers available HERE ).
- You ARE going to catch some fish so be sure to take plates, some forks and some side salad. We had home grown tomatoes, fennel and cucumber with our fish.
- Ground black pepper.
Step 2: Feathers or Spinner?
The biggest headache on a day like this is going to be deciding if to use a spinner or feathers on the end of the line. With a spinner, we can cast out further into the ocean and because it flashes silver in the water, it is more attractive to quite a diverse range of species of fish. With feathers, we can catch many fish at the the same time and take full advantage of a big shoal of mackerel.
The first photo shows a typical spinner and the others feathers being used. Both systems need an appropriate weight attached for casting out.
Step 3: Casting Technique
Open the metal bar on the spinning reel 90 degrees, pinch the nylon line with a finger to stop the line pouring out, pull the rod back over your shoulder and then quickly whip it forwards to cast out, letting go of the line with your finger as you go. Now close the metal bar and reel in slowly taking care not to get the tackle snagged on rocks or seaweed. It takes some practise, but only about 10 minutes to get the hang of it.
Step 4: How to Kill the Fish
So, miraculously, you have now caught a fish. You reel it in and land it on the rocks.
Check that it falls within the minimum landing size rules eg in the UK it is 6" for mackerel at present (2016). If it does not meet the regs, it needs to be thrown back into the ocean.
Next, you have to grab this wriggling creature and despatch it quickly and cleanly with the minimum amount of suffering and the maximum amount of not losing the fish. Some people like to club them to death with a wooden bat like thing but I prefer a surgical cut with a knife straight into the brain of the fish. If you imagine an equal triangle shape which runs from both eyes back along the head - gently insert a pointed knife here and the fish will die instantly.
Step 5: Gut the Fish
Cut into the fish as shown and pull all the guts out with your fingers. Wash the fish in the ocean and now they're ready for cooking. Try not to wipe your dirty hands all over your clothes or you will smell REALLY bad!
Step 6: Cook the Fish
Load up the stainless steel insertion tube with mackerel, sprinkle on some ground black pepper, insert into the cooker and open up the reflector panels to start cooking.
Depending on the amount of bright sunshine, cooking should take about 25 minutes. Mackerel benefit from being cooked to the point of destruction so don't worry about overcooking.
Keep an eye on the small breather hole (last photo) in the insertion tube and if it's billowing out loads of steam, this is a sign that it's probably cooked.
Step 7: Serve Up the Fish
We ate our mackerel with a little bit of home grown salad. No sauce is required - just enjoy the exquisite taste of freshly cooked mackerel on the beach - there really is nothing that can beat this food sensation!
Please feel free to add suggestions for improving this technique in the comments section below. This instructable will be updated if I have missed anything.
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