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Catch and eat: Rockfish are on the menu straight out of the Pacific Ocean

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A Pacific rockfish by any other name is cod, snapper, and any one of the more than 70 species that swim about in the waters between Alaska and Baja California.

FISHY FISHY Eric Collier, 8, holds up the biggest catch of the day! A red rockfish that he caught himself out on the water near Port San Luis. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WIL COLLIER
  • Photo Courtesy Of Wil Collier
  • FISHY FISHY Eric Collier, 8, holds up the biggest catch of the day! A red rockfish that he caught himself out on the water near Port San Luis.

There are red ones, blue ones, black ones, and yellow ones.

Olive ones and striped ones.

Those species with giant ugly, bulging eyes and those that look less freaky.

Ones you're not allowed to catch based on federal law, and those that you can.

With most species, though, recreational fishers (who have a permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife) can bag up to 10 per day, combined. Anglers can fish from shore, off a pier, or from a boat, although there are slightly different rules depending on the method.

FILET-O-FISH There are several tricks to filleting fresh caught fish, but the most common involves slicing along the spine and above the ribs from collar to tail. - PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
  • Photo By Camillia Lanham
  • FILET-O-FISH There are several tricks to filleting fresh caught fish, but the most common involves slicing along the spine and above the ribs from collar to tail.

The flesh has a light, lean texture with a soft nuttiness—and although I couldn't really tell the difference in taste between say, a red or blue rockfish, there are people out there who swear they can.

SEASONED EATING Pasolivo tangerine olive oil and Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning give the rockfish and kick of heat and a citrus backbone. - PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
  • Photo By Camillia Lanham
  • SEASONED EATING Pasolivo tangerine olive oil and Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning give the rockfish and kick of heat and a citrus backbone.

Either way, there's nothing like fresh caught fish for dinner, and on Sunday, July 12, I got the opportunity to indulge thanks to the hard work of the Collier boys and an early morning. They left the house at 5 that morning with their boat in tow and headed out onto the open water from Port San Luis.

Eric, 8, caught the biggest fish of them all, and he was proud to show it off the second they pulled back into the driveway around 2:30 p.m. The fish were packed into a cooler on ice, and they got to work filleting as soon as everything was unloaded.

GRILL IT UP Don't feel like starting a fire? There's always the flat-top grill (or a cast iron skillet near you) for a quick sauté with onions and serrano peppers. - PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
  • Photo By Camillia Lanham
  • GRILL IT UP Don't feel like starting a fire? There's always the flat-top grill (or a cast iron skillet near you) for a quick sauté with onions and serrano peppers.

Those fillets went from the cutting board to the flat-top grill after receiving a bath in some tangerine olive oil from Pasolivo and a sprinkling of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. A little citrus and a little heat along with some sautéed onions and serrano peppers did the trick. We wrapped the finished product up in a heated flour tortilla with fresh mango and pineapple salsa and a cilantro salad for a fresh, healthy, light Sunday dinner.

READY FOR DINNER For a quick meal after a long day out on the water, tortillas wrap up grilled fresh rockfish, a tropical salsa, and cilantro salad. - PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
  • Photo By Camillia Lanham
  • READY FOR DINNER For a quick meal after a long day out on the water, tortillas wrap up grilled fresh rockfish, a tropical salsa, and cilantro salad.

This isn't the first fresh fish dinner I've had with the Colliers, either. The weekend fishing trip is a staple in that household. We've beer-battered the fish, put it in tacos, and just had it grilled. Really, it can't be beat, and no matter how simple you make it, eating fresh-caught fish always feels special. Δ

Editor Camillia Lanham is full of fish. Send comments to clanham@newtimesslo.com.

PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
  • Photo By Camillia Lanham

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