Chasing a feed

A LOT of us go fishing to get ourselves a feed. It doesn’t matter whether you fish the salt or fresh, Australia is blessed with good stocks of delectable fish, be it flathead fillets from the salt, or succulent golden perch from the inland.

Now is a good time to be in the great outdoors as summer is the time of plenty. The inland waterways and surrounding bush can supplement so much more than just fish to your diet. While the rivers and lakes can supply a feed of fish if you look a bit deeper there are yabbies and shrimp by the dozens to be had. Shrimps (freshwater prawns) and yabbies cooked in boiling salted water are one of life’s indulgences. The bush can also supply a bounty of tucker. A fall of rain and fields can be covered with field mushrooms, the introduced pine forests around many of our trout streams can supply buckets of Saffron Milk Cap’s along with Slippery Jacks, just two of the more sought-after forest mushrooms.

Early settlers had to be pretty much self-sufficient after making their way over the mountains and into the land of plenty. They planted gardens of vegetables and a variety of fruit and nut trees. Many of these trees are in fruit now, plum, peach, nectarine, pear, apple, fig, orange, lemon and even the quince. Walnut trees were a favored tree to plant as they were a beautiful shade tree around the house but they also supplied a truck load of walnuts in season.

Walking along a stream in the higher mountainous reaches and the banks will probably be lined with a native plant called Lomandra, the fleshy base of the Lomandra plant has a pleasant green pea taste which is quite pleasant to chew on while fishing for a bass or trout. The stinging nettles that the bankside angler battles through can also be eaten as a green vegetable and these can be quite tasty when prepared and cooked properly. Wild asparagus can be found after rain and this is delicious. Further west and the native peach or Quandong can be found along with the native wild Orange! The Quandong is much sought after for its superb taste when made into a jam or relish. Yams are another food that will remain hidden to most people but in reality, they can be seen in their hundreds by those who know what to look for. The yam daisy is an easy plant to spot with its bright yellow flower, the yams are best dug after flowering is complete as the plant puts all its energy back into the yam. It is surprising how big the tuberous yams can be for such a small plant.

Hands left purple from a few hours spent black berry picking is a reminder of the sweet fruit that is available over huge areas of our country. Wild European blackberries are considered a weed of national significance in Australia but they still taste beautiful. A short crust pie filled with stewed blackberry filling and topped with fresh whipped cream has to be close to the number one desert in my mind.

The pleasant scent of mint along our rivers is another reminder of this versatile herb, who doesn’t like a leg of lamb / goat /venison/pig in a camp oven with sides of vegetables seasoned with a mint sauce! Water cress is another salad plant commonly found in our creeks and rivers, it belongs to the cabbage family and as such is good eating. If we are fishing the remote coastal regions then we would be enjoying fish, mud crabs, mussels, oysters, mud whelks, mangoes, bananas and the many variety of figs that abound.

Cooking fish and shellfish amongst the coals brings a beautiful rich moist flesh to the pallet that many will never taste. So, the next time you head fishing in this time of plenty it may be that you only need to take some fishing gear and a keen eye for the abundant foods that are available to supplement your diet. Many plants are poisonous and can cause death or sickness or wild hallucinations, so ensure you can identify what it is before you eat it!

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