Cooking fish over campfire
By: Posted On: 2018-06-12

You don’t need a lot of tools to prepare your fish. A fillet knife can be used for scaling, skinning, slicing, and filleting. You’ll need a container to collect the parts of the fish you remove during preparation. When skinning non-scaly fish like catfish, remove the spiny fins first to make the fish easier to handle. Once you’ve cleaned, gutted, and filleted your catch, you have a few different options for cooking fresh fish over the campfire. One simple method is to place your fillets in a foil pouch. Add lemon slices, salt and pepper to taste, or sprinkle your favorite seasoning mix over the fish. Garlic gives fish a savory flavor, or you can add a few dabs of butter for richness. Seal up the foil pouch and place it over hot coals, turning after five minutes. It takes about ten minutes to cook fish thoroughly. The fish is cooked completely when it easily flakes apart and is no longer translucent. For all the flavor of deep fried fish without the greasy kitchen cleanup, you can have a fish and chips fry up at the campsite. Pack a seasoned fish fry mix or flour blended with your favorite spices in a large zip-top bag. You’ll also need a deep skillet resting on a steady, solid platform over the fire. The last thing you want is for the pan to tip and dump hot oil. Pour about one inch of vegetable oil into the pan and allow it to heat. Toss your fish in the coating mix, then carefully place it into the hot oil. Let fish cook for a few minutes on each side until the outside is golden brown. Drain fish on paper plates or paper towels and let it cool a bit before that first delicious bite. 

 Cooking Fish Over A Campfire

First of all, make sure the fish is safe to eat. Never eat fish that appears spoiled. Fish can spoil very quickly especially in warm weather so check out the following signs and discard any fish that you have doubts about. The Iowan rivers and lakes are so abundantly stocked that you're bound to have plenty of fish to choose from!

●     Unpleasant odor

●     Eyes that appear sunken or cloudy

●     Gills should be red to pink and scales should be bright not cloudy or faded in appearance

●     The fish should appear moist or wet, not slimy

●     Press the fish's flesh with your thumb; it should not remain indented after you remove the pressure

●     When cooked, the fish will have a slightly earthy flavour but should not taste sharp or peppery

Prepare the fish quickly and keep it as cool as possible until you're ready to cook it. Remove the gills and any large blood vessels along the spine. If the fish is more than 10cm ( 4”) in length, you will need to gut it. Take a sharp knife and make a slit along the fish's belly from just below its head. Scrape out the guts, wrap in paper and discard.

At this point you can remove the head, fins and tail or even fillet the fish completely if you don't like eating around the bones and depending upon which method of cooking you're going to use. 

Cooking methods


The most popular way of cooking freshly caught fish over a campfire is to fry it. You'll need a small amount of olive oil (or similar), a spatula, a pan, a cooking grate and some breadcrumbs (optional).

If you're using breadcrumbs, dip each side of the fish into the crumb until it's well coated. Put some oil into your pan and place the pan onto the grate over the fire. When the oil is nice and hot, pop the fish in. Turn them over frequently so that they don't burn. As soon as the breadcrumbs begin to turn golden, carefully split one of the fish with a knife to see if it's cooked. If the flesh is white, shiny and flaky in texture, it's ready to eat. If not, wait a little longer.


Arguably the tastiest way to cook fish is by boiling it. Place a pan of clean water on a grate over the fire and bring it to the boil. Put the fish into the boiling water. Test to see if it's done by gently testing one with a knife; when the flesh flakes, it's ready to eat.

Drain the fish and serve with a small amount of butter, seasoning and some fresh herbs.

Over hot coals

This method is my favourite. The fish has a delicious smoky flavour that just screams, outdoors! Wait until the fire dies and only the hot coals are left in the fire pit. Skewer the fish lengthwise and place them directly onto the coals. Turn them frequently to make sure they cook through evenly. This method is the quickest and the fish should be ready to enjoy within a few minutes.



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