Living on both the Massanutten Mountain and the Shenandoah River gives us the best of both worlds. Besides harvesting wild game and other wild edibles off the land, we also have the river to provide many varieties of fish, turtles, etc. If we want fish for a meal, all we really have to do is go down to the river. If you have your mouth all set on bass, you may have to settle for catfish or a pan fish variety, but at least it’s fresh. There is one thing ‘tho that the doctors warn you about. Limit the amount of fish you eat out of the Shenandoah because of the residual mercury level left in the river because of the tanning factory upstream that was in operation many years ago. But, what people do harvest and eat from the river is fresh. If you have to buy fish from the market, here are some things to look for to ensure freshness.
- If the eyes appear to be dull and sunken, keep looking. The eyes should be clear and bright.
- Check the gills. If they are gray or brownish looking with a cloudy mucus, keep looking. The gills should be bright red with a clear mucus.
- As you feel the flesh, make sure that it feels firm and does not leave any finger impressions when lightly pressed. The skin should also be firmly attacked to the bones.
- Check the scales. They should be bright, shiny and firmly attached to the skin.
- The vent should be a pink color, not gray or brownish.
- If you are checking fillets and steaks from processed fish, make sure that they look firm and moist, including the edges.
- If you are selecting packages of frozen fish, make sure that there is not a lot of ice crystals in the package and that the package is well sealed.
- Last, but not least, fresh fish does not smell fishy.
Keep your fork