Last night I was digging through my freezer and buried beneath the Ellio’s Pizza and a few venison backstraps, I found this lone vacuum-sealed trout. I thought quite hard about where it came from. I’m usually pretty good about marking the date and species on all sealed fish, but this 12-inch brown trout, no doubt a local stocker, is anonymous and apparently slipped out of view during cold storage. Its origins remain a mystery.


Perhaps I kept it to give to someone who requested a trout and never delivered. Perhaps I hooked it deep and it died. Regardless, thanks to vacuum-seal technology, I’m sure this trout would be almost as tasty as the day it was caught, and because of vacuum-sealing, a fish lost in the back of the ice box isn’t such a big deal. But I vividly remember the days of plastic wrap and tin foil. Leave some fillets wrapped in these materials in the freezer for more than a month, and the contents were worthy only of becoming fertilizer.

The problem with old fish is that sometimes other people find it and cook it not knowing how long it’s been in the freezer. They see “striped bass” on the bag but miss the 2006 date. The worst story I ever heard was from my friend Mike who lived with his parents and Italian grandmother growing up. After a fishing trip, Mike tossed a bag of peanut bunker in the freezer and forgot about it. Two seasons later, “Nana” found it while making a spaghetti feast and decided to spice up the sauce with some seafood. She thawed the little fish, beheaded them, and plopped them in the pot. He still gags when he sees peanut bunker and the smell apparently lingered in the house for months.

I’m curious, what’s the funkiest thing you’ve ever pulled from the freezer, fish or otherwise? – JC