The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Outdoors

May 25, 2013

Cross Column: Bullheads may be rough fish, but they're good eats

Yesterday, Minnesota's second-biggest fishing season _ for bass _ opened.

A half-century ago, bass fishing was a more subdued affair as anglers in simple fishing boats cast tried-and-true baits like Jitterbugs or Hula-Poppers as they drifted along a shoreline.

A good share of the fish caught would wind up on a stringer, destined for the frying pan.

Fast forward to Opening Day, 2013.

Likely as not, bass anglers yesterday cruised to their fishing spots at highway speeds in glittery bass boats bristling with electronic fish-finding gadgets and powered by a high-performance 200 horsepower outboards

And to actually keep and and eat a bass? Perish the thought!

So today, let's pay homage instead to a fish that people actually intend to eat after catching them.

No, not a walleye, bluegill or crappie, but the lowly bullhead.

Officially, the smooth-skinned, be-whiskered fellow is classified in Minnesota as "rough" fish. A DNR fish biologist once described bullheads as rocks with fins.

Anglers weary of getting picked clean of their expensive live baits typically describe the fish even less charitably and in terms that can't be printed here.

No one would argue that a bullhead is a very sporting fish to catch.

There are no fancy aerial bass antics, no walleye head shakes, no sizzling pike runs. Except for an occasionally tail flop, a bullhead just sort of spins at the end of the line as dead weight.

Indeed, the only reason anglers target the fish is that when taken from cold water, they can make for fitting table fare.

In our neighborhood in southwest Minnesota, we always viewed bullheads in a positive light. They were plentiful and easy to catch.

Thus, on most Memorial Day weekends, several families on our street would load up the sedans and travel to one of the wind-swept, shallow prairie lakes that dotted the countryside.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Outdoors
  • Paying homage to the turkey hunting gods If there were a Minnesota Turkey Hunter Hall of Shame, I could be a prime candidate for induction. It's been so long since I've wrapped a tag around a Minnesota bird's leg that I can't remember exactly the last time I've pulled the trigger on a gobbl

    April 20, 2014

  • No Headline Provided Key City Conservation Club to hold Youth Day MADISON LAKE -- The Key City Conservation Club will hold a 12th Annual Youth Day, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, May 3, at its club property at 23370 Blue Earth Co. Rd 188, Madison Lake. A variety of outdoor ac

    April 20, 2014

  • Eileen Factor-O.jpg Eileen Factor

     Eileen Factor, 85, from Le Center passed away on Monday, April 14, 2014.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • cross, john.jpg Cross column: Exorcising winter's demons ... finally

    Can't beat fresh fish for a meal

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Know Your Lakes: Series maps

    Missed out on the weekly lake preview Wednesday's in the print edition? That's ok, we have you covered here. View the series thus far and download a printable PDF.

    May 24, 2011

  • Trout opportunities available Saturday Trout opportunites available Saturday WATERVILLE -- Anglers looking for a little open water relief from this extended winter might consider heading to one of the area's trout fishing venues next Saturday when the Minnesota stream trout season begins.

    April 6, 2014

  • mfp sports jccolumn 3-30 Cross: Focusing on future of Minnesota's deer herd Minnesota deer hunters are never short of opinions. Put a bunch of them in the same room, ask them how the state's deer herd is doing, and you're sure to get an earful of divergent views. But that was the point Thursday as the Minnesota Department of

    March 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Searching for spring -- and open water We all can agree: It's been a long, long winter. If you're an ice angler, then maybe you're quite happy that that your knuckles are scraping by the time your auger breaks through the thick mantel of ice. But the rest of us? Winter weary, we pine for

    March 24, 2014

  • cross, john.jpg Cross column: Free guns with truck makes good business

    To suggest that the promotion to give away guns with a truck purchase tweaked media interest would be a significant understatement.

    March 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Muskie group to meet in Owatonna

    March 9, 2014