It doesn’t matter where I have travelled in the world my heart always yearns for Port Dover,
. Having grown up in that area I have vivid memories going back to when I was four years old, of walking the pier with my Grandmother. When other kids ate ice-cream my preference was for a piece of smoked fish that we could buy, from the local fishermen who were mending their nets. The only fish we ate in those days was what we either caught fishing ourselves or what we bought including: pickerel, perch, small and large mouth bass, smelts and trout. Lake Erie, Ontario
At one time, Port Dover’s fishing industry was the largest freshwater fishing fleet in the world. It’s smaller today. Thankfully its history has been preserved at the
. Part of the collection is housed in an original fisherman's net shanty. Outside of the shanty you’ll find the 1932 fishtug Almidart, and a 1912 lake-freighter wheelhouse. Commercial fishing still goes on but at a much smaller scale. Check out the museum at http://www.portdovermuseum.ca/index.php . Port Dover Harbour Museum
Both my grandmother and mother utilized
Lake Erie fish in many different ways. They used it in soup, fried, baked and pickled. Mom made sure there was enough fish in the freezer to last the winter.
I can remember when I was a newlywed. My Grandmother telephoned me to visit her as she was about to make some smelt. I hopped on my bike and peddled up to her house. She was in the kitchen and had just finished frying up a platter. We sat down and together ate the whole thing. It was delicious. Her recipe was quite simple. She would wash and dry the fish. Roll it in beaten egg, then in flour, and again in egg. Fry it in deep hot fat. Season with salt and pepper. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Perch can be prepared in the same way. Mom always garnished the fish with fresh sprigs of dill from our garden. Served hot or as a leftover fried perch is a treat.
Mom’s Baked Bass Fillets
Soak fillets for 3 minutes in ¼ cup of milk plus 1 tsp. salt
Place the drained fillets into a well oiled oven proof pan; cover the fillets with fine bread crumbs and sprinkle with 2 tsp. of butter or margarine.
Bake in a hot oven 425-475F until cooked about 10-15 minutes.
Sadly, the fish in all of the
Great Lakes are not as safe to eat as they once were. The levels of toxins and mercury and invasive species have an effect on the fish of today. I am very cautious to make sure that the fish I eat is from the wild and that it is processed in . For a real eye opener regarding fish take the time to watch the following program http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/WFive/20071025/WFIVE_chinafood_071027/ . Canada
Having said this, it is still OK to go to Port Dover and enjoy the occasional perch or pickerel dinner. You could also try your hand at fishing off of the pier. You never know when that ‘big one’ might be waiting for your hook.
May the holes in your net be no larger than the fish in it.
Many thanks to Ian Bell for the photographs. Ian is a long time friend and the Curator of the
. Port Dover Harbour Museum