William Powell Country

My Perfect BBQ


Article written by 15 August 2013

As the days start to shorten a little, and we find ourselves in the heat of the dog days, my mind wanders from fishing the rivers, so plentiful in sport during the spring and now on their bones and holding lethargic fish and lethargic anglers, to coastal pastimes.

The time is right for loading the open boat up with mackerel and bass fishing gear, lobster pots and shrimping nets and heading to the launching ramp. As the outboard is fired up, hopefully starting more or less on cue, sun tan lotion is slapped on, fishing cap and polaroids donned and out we head.

I am meandering up to Loch Ailort tomorrow, and the weather looks to be scorchio – I am taking a gang of very part time fishers and non fishers up there, and so I find myself thinking about the perfect day crowned with the perfect barbeque.

I will try and get out there with the pots a day or two before hand, baited with salmon heads from the smokehouse. The lobsters prefer the smelly ones, although I have to say usually the crabs get there first.

We’ll head out, four and me to the boat, aiming for a little bay I know called the ‘Singing Sands’. I’ll send brother Nick off with the boat and the team to feather a few mackerel, leaving me on the beach, with the crystal clear water lapping on the shore under the bright sun.

The fire will be set on the sand – it’s really important to make sure whenever you are setting a camp fire that it cannot spread. The peninsula opposite Roshven was alight for days a couple of years ago, with deer throwing themselves into the sea to escape the flames and a lot of wildlife wiped out, the result of careless kayakers having a camp fire. It has still not quite recovered. Peat will burn underground for days once it gets going, and so only set fires on beach or rock, or take a disposable barbeque – and dispose of it properly!

Once the fire is going, I will be expecting Captain Nick to arrive with the team, having pulled the pots and got a few good brown crabs. A really important part of barbequing is to make sure that you have the right kit, and that doesn’t mean a bells and whistles gas bbq, but the pots or pans or home made griddles, or whatever you need that means you can eat like a king.

The mackerel (and maybe a pollock or two) will be headed, and go on in chicken wire wrap with a sprinkle of dried herbes de Provence I will have tried to remember. Keep moving them so they don’t burn, and as the skin crisps, we’ll open up the wire and get involved with lemon and bread.

The crabs will be killed with a knife, and the legs go straight on the griddle and are cracked with a rock, the juicy meat sucked out of each shell. I daren’t wish for a lobster, but we can hope. The last one I caught was covered in berries, and I didn’t have it in me to kill her. I was much derided by local fishermen for my conservation mindedness!

Whilst this is going on, someone will be out with the shrimping net, pushing it along the shore. The catch will be boiled up in an old tin, or perhaps fried in a hot pan with a bit of garlic and chilli.

Unfortunately I can’t add any razor clams to my feast this year, as I understand there is a shellfish warning at the moment, but they also are fit for a king, just laid on the griddle and eaten hot and juicy with lemon juice. But what we will have is elderflower champagne, brewed in Sussex and just about ready at this time of year and kept cool in the water. Not too much mind you, as the sea and alcohol can be a volatile mix.

And then we’ll all get packed up super quickly, chased off by the midges and head for the middle of the loch where they can’t get us

William Church

Born and raised in the Essex countryside, will has been fishing since the age of 7. He has a particular love of fly fishing in rivers, however is not averse to using just about any method for any fish in any water where there’s.. Read more.

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