Pukaki car boot kitchen

I’ve always been a fan of hunting and gathering my own food; it is cheaper, tastes better, is so much more rewarding, and is often food that you can’t buy in the supermarket.

While staying in Tekapo during my weekend off work, my poor uni student mindset couldn’t justify paying over $20 for one piece of ‘fresh’ salmon so I set off in search of fresh wild fish for dinner. My first stop was at the canals, which seemed to have far more fishermen than fish and yet, with that many people casting a wide variety of lures and baits, no one was catching anything.

I still gave it a crack but quickly decided to move on and spent the rest of the morning hopping between lakes and rivers in the area. However, all I managed was a few snags and one brown trout following my lure in before disappearing as quick as he appeared.

Despite it being midafternoon and 24 degrees, I carried on searching for new spots to fish until I spied a rocky outcrop on the edge of a crystal clear lake—it had potential, and no other fishermen.

I meandered down to the waters’ edge and rummaged through my tackle box. My eyes landed on a BlackMagic, black and gold dartspin—perfect.

The softbait danced along the rocky ground and quickly gained attention from a hungry brown trout, which came racing up to my feet before disturbing the water’s surface and vanishing. After a few more follows and moving around the lake a bit, I lobbed my lure out and within seconds my line was tight, as if the fish was waiting with its mouth wide open.

My reel screamed as the fish took off on multiple, powerful runs. If that wasn’t enough to get the blood pumping, it mixed in an emphatic display of acrobatics, leaping fully out of the water and violently shaking its head.

The battle was lengthy and honourable, but there had to be a victor and despite the fish’s best efforts, he eventually wore out and smoothly slid onto the rocks. I was over the moon with the fight and the fish, a beautiful three-pound rainbow that was destined for the pan.

With the trout dispatched and gutted, I continued casting. Almost immediately after landing the first fish, I was on again. A battle ensued that was arguably more intense than the first yet had the same result, as I carefully landed another three-pound rainbow, identical to the last.

With one trout for me and my partner and one for her boss, I called it a day.

That evening we set up a makeshift car boot kitchen by the lake. The bright orange fillets were panfried with butter, lemon, a little bit of salt and pepper, and then topped with some fresh spring onions. A simple dinner but it was by far some of the tastiest fish I’ve ever had, far better than anything from the supermarket.

Panfried trout

1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil

1 knob of butter 1 lemon 2 trout fillets

1 fresh spring onion Salt and pepper to taste

Add butter and oil to a pan on medium to high heat and leave until the butter is foaming.

Cut the fillets into thirds and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Fry each fillet till it’s golden on both sides.

Top with chopped spring onion and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Serve with steamed vegetables, mash potatoes, or a fresh green salad

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