The GulfSouth Outdoors folks had been thinking about having a battle of the coast chefs for some time when the subject came up over dinner with Andy Chapman. He had had a similar idea to go trout fishing with some chefs from the Jackson area but was struggling with the need for multiple cameramen on each of several boats. That’s when I suggested why don’t we have a battle of the Jackson versus Coast chefs and do it all aboard Vixen in a single trip.
A few weeks later, we gathered on the dock in Gulfport Harbor as the sun was rising to head south and fish for cobia. Even though snapper season was closed, we decided to hit a couple of wrecks on the way out, knowing that we would have to release the snapper. We figured this would guarantee that we wouldn’t get skunked while giving the sun time to get up, for better cobia fishing.
As soon as we stopped and they began to fish, the action got hot. With 8-10 pound snapper on every drop on every rod, it was a blast. We continued this until everyone had a chance to release a bunch of snappers with sore mouths and left with our culinary anglers wearing big smiles. Next, it was cobia time.
Early on, Dan Blumenthal was retrieving a jig and hooked up with a nice cobia. I went to get out the gaff when I heard the sound of a fish flopping on the deck behind me. Puzzled at how he had boated the big fish without help, I turned back to find everyone scrambling away from a 25 pound king mackerel which lay on the deck snapping a mouthful of razor sharp teeth.
It turns out that the cobia spit the jig as Dan was retrieving it. Evidently, the king spotted the jig just as he pulled it from the water and lunged after it landing squarely in the cockpit of Vixen! That was a first.
*** [Pub. in the Sun Herald on Oct. 27, 2013, p . 8B] ***
We continued to fish and at one point all three Jackson chefs were simultaneously hooked up with 40 pound plus cobia—it was chaos. But much to my surprise, we managed to boat all three. Then Barry Foster hooked up with what was probably the stud of the day. Unfortunately, one of the Jackson crew (I won’t say who) cast at about the same time and his line when over Barry’s. Before we could react, the two lines touched and Barry lost his fish. He did not take it well.
Andy Wilson, Dan Blumenthal, Steven Coblenz, Barry Foster,
and Scott Weinberg (Photo by Ben Bloodworth)
Back at the dock, we cleaned fish and then headed up to The Dock for a cook-off. The intent was for the non-chef “judges” to determine the best dish but after tasting all six dishes the consensus was: the judges had won. What a feast!
While all of the dishes were incredible, perhaps Andy’s fish cakes surprised me the most. When he told us he was using the king mackerel to make fish cakes, I confess that I was not too excited. He soaked the filets in his secret marinade and then fried them coated with Panko crumbs. While my first bite was tentative, the rest sure weren’t. They were great!
You can find the recipes on the GulfSouth Outdoors website.
Frank Wilem is the executive producer/co-host of the television show Gulf South Outdoors, which airs Sundays at 10 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. on WXXV Fox 25. Visit www.GulfSouthOutdoors.com for more information and air times in other areas.