Down in the restaurant, the #1 most-asked question is “What beers do you have on tap?”
But the second most-asked question is “Where’s the good fishing at?” Oh boy.
There’s a lot of lakes up here and I’m not exactly the “bait my own hook” type. But there is one guy who knows North Shore fishing spots inside and out. And luckily for me (and my tables) he happens to be a chef too. I mean, right there in the kitchen is my go-to guide to Fishing 101.
Being that we’re just past Fishing Opener, I thought I’d ask the big guy if he knew any good lakes I could post about. In classic Justen fashion, he gets a huge grin on his face and whips out his trusty Area Lake Guide.
Of course he marks every good bite he gets with an X. Obviously he keeps track of the species.
And if that’s not enough, he throws down his favorite ways to prepare each fish. Talk about above and beyond the call of duty!
So, what was going to just be a casual blog with directions to a lake has become the Official Chef Justen Comprehensive All-Inclusive Fishing Guide-O-Rama!
Here we go:
#1 – Northern Light Lake
Apparently this lake lives up to its namesake, yielding Northerns as well as Perch, if ye be packin’ a large purple spoon, says Justen. The lake is also known for its sunfish, bass, and the occasional walleye–but Justen’s had the most luck with Northerns and Perch. Watch the narrows for lilypad and wild rice patches and rocky bottoms. And if you’re looking for a moose (my third most-asked question), Justen just saw one a few days ago on the east river bend. (He marked that too, shh!)
And what does the ‘chef half’ do with Perch? Keep it simple: beer batter. Accented with a Lemon-Dill Aioli on Toasted Ciabatta makes a heck of a sandwich.
#2 – Pine Mountain Lake
Speaking of rocky bottoms–which I try not to–this arrowhead-shaped lake is pretty much known for having one. Justen’s usual catch here is splake, a hybrid combo of brook trout and lake trout. He uses a yellow spinner with eyes to snag these bad boys and when he does he smokes’em, whole. And if you catch one of those Brown Trout, Justen suggests going for a honey-glazed kabob.
#3 – Elbow Lake
Another sweet spot for perch. And my motto is “If it’s shaped like a fish, it must be good fishing!” Not really–but if I had a motto, that’d be it.
If taking a canoe up the Gunflint isn’t exactly your cup of tea, Tofte Charters also offers a relaxing fishing excursion out on Lake Superior. And if you catch it, Chef Justen (or one of the equally awesome Moguls chefs) will even cook it up for you. Slam dunk, right?
Happy fishing, kids!