Knowing how to feed yourself in the wild is one of the greatest skills you could ever have. Whether you’re hiking backcountry trails, camping or fighting to survive in the wilderness, catching and cooking your own food will sustain you until you return to civilization. 

At this point, you likely already know how to catch, clean and gut a fish. Now, you’re ready to learn the final step — cooking it. Below, you’ll find a few different ways to do so, plus some basic tips and tricks to creating a delicious fish-centric meal, regardless of what tools you have on hand. 

Foil-Wrapped Fillets 

One of the easiest ways to prepare your fresh catch of the day is by cooking it hobo style. This simple but effective method involves cleaning and gutting the fish, stuffing it with herbs and veggies and wrapping it in aluminum foil. Use a few layers of foil to ensure the flames don’t burn a hole in it. Then, place the pouch next to hot coals, flip it often and check it periodically to avoid overcooking your meal.

Crispy Sauteed Fish 

If you happen to have a skillet with you, make good use of it and saute your fish. This method is best for cooking mild white fish like cod and haddock. Add a thin layer of butter and oil to your skillet, dredge your fillets in flour and gently place them in the pan. Depending on the thickness of the fish, you may cook each side 30 seconds to three minutes until both are golden brown. 

Fish on a Log 

If you don’t have any cookware with you or you’re in complete survival mode, you can still cook your catch. Doing so will just take more time and dedication, especially if you choose to plank your fish the traditional way. This method involves staking your catch to a halved log with wooden pegs. You must then build a wind-resistant tipi fire and prop the plank up so the fish can cook fireside. Your meal should be ready within 15 minutes. 

Fish on a Stick

Cooking your fish on a stick is as close to a caveman as you’ll probably ever come. However,  it’s just as effective as any other cooking method. Plus, it will definitely impress your camping buddies. Begin by gutting your fish and spearing it lengthwise through the mouth with a long stick. Then, use smaller sticks to stabilize your catch, piercing the fish through the belly and out through the back. Slowly roast over the flames until completely cooked. 

Tips and Tricks 

If you want your wild-caught dinner to come out perfect every time, there are a few things you should know in addition to the above cooking methods. The following tips and tricks will ensure your campfire fish fry goes swimmingly:

  • Leave the skin on: Depending on the type of fish you catch, it may be best to leave the skin on while it cooks. Doing so will make it easier to flip and ensure it crisps up nicely. 
  • Establish the fire: Do this step before cooking your catch to make things go more smoothly.
  • Score and stuff it: Consider scoring your fish and stuffing it with aromatics before you cook it. This trick will add flavor and variety to your meals, regardless of which cooking method you choose. 
  • Control the heat: Overcooking your fish is all too easy to do over a campfire where you can’t control the heat. To avoid a dry, tasteless meal, only cook the fish until it easily flakes with a fork. 

Dig In!

Once you’re done cooking your fish over the campfire, there’s only one thing left to do — dig in! Enjoy your catch with a squeeze of lemon and a side of rice and vegetables for a well-balanced meal that’ll keep you full and energized. Then, thank your camping buddy in advance for being the chef next time.

Looking for more ways to cook your fish? Check out our article on how to smoke your own fish.