For most people, catching, cleaning, and cooking their own fish is a rare feat. But Chris Crockett at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head makes it look easy.
With a cooler full of ice, a bucket of bait, and fishing poles, Crockett greets participants of “Catch It, Clean It, Cook It” at Jennette’s Pier every Tuesday from April through December.
He first explains how to bait a hook and then shows his students how to cast a line into the water below.
Always, his students ask, “When are they going to bite?”
Crockett, a former pro surfer who grew up along the North Carolina coast, explains how fishing depends on the weather.
He says the best days to fish are overcast with a light northeast wind. “When the clarity is really good, you can see the fish swimming around the pilings.”
A full moon makes the chance of reeling in fish all the better, he says.
Once fish are landed, Crockett takes his students to cleaning stations, where he fillets fish with a 12-inch knife. He stresses, “let the tip do the work,” while you cut away from your body.
An indoor kitchen at the pier is where Crockett demonstrates different techniques for cooking fish.
He prepares fish without seasonings first, in order to savor natural flavors. Then he batters and deep-fries them, adding a mixture of tomatoes and avocados to make a fish taco.
Smiles spread and laughter erupts as Crockett shares tales of life on the ocean.
“I once caught a Spanish mackerel with my bare hands while on my surfboard,” he says.
7223 South Virginia Dare Trail
Nags Head, N.C. 27959
Cost: $35 per person
Ages: 12 and up (ages 12 to 17 must be accompanied by a paying adult)
Anna Goodwin McCarthy is a freelance writer in Elizabeth City.