Well I haven’t exactly gone fishing. I’m visiting my parents, but I always did love how they used to leave “gone fishing” signs in small town shop windows when the owners went on vacation. I probably saw it on an episode of Maybury RFD. Did you know I caught that 81/2′ swordfish to my left (your right) in the photo below?

Gone fishing again...

Gone fishing... my 81/2' swordfish catch

My extended family had gone to Acapulco, Mexico to celebrate my grandfathers’ 75th birthday. He took his two sons, and whatever grandchildren wished to accompany them, deep sea fishing. Having just read The Old Man and the Sea, I was acutely interested in the adventure. There we sat, the sun beating down relentlessly in the sweltering heat for hours bobbing up and down monotonously in the waves. Not what I had signed up for. I was bored and missing my boyfriend back home. After five hours without so much as a nibble, beginning to feel green around my own gills, teenage angst kicked in along with the attitude and complaints until I drove them all so nuts they finally agreed to turn back to shore… when startlingly my rod began to pull violently.

Suddenly I was anything but bored! My heart was racing with a mixture of excitement, and fear once I saw the sheer size of the beast that threatened to pull me into the water, and I imagined exact his revenge. I also felt more than a tinge of empathetic sadness. I never liked killing so much as an ant, and this was one of Gods’ more magnificent creations. The fish fought valiantly, as I struggled, along with two very muscular crew members taking turns, to reel him in a little at a time, until we finally prevailed, thoroughly exhausted.

Julie Anne Rhodes on the landing to our bar

Julie Anne Rhodes on the landing to our bar, Photo by John Swannell

I don’t know why people do this, I guess to gloat over a victory in which the poor fish didn’t stand much of a chance, but we had him stuffed and sent back to Iowa to collect dust. Eager to clear space in their basement, mom and dad had him shipped to London six years later. My ex threatened to hang him over the landing down to our bar, and have him rigged to say “f-off” when our guests would descend for a party. Instead he was unceremoniously disposed of. Not exactly the romanticized Hemingway ending I had originally envisioned.

fishermen in Iowa City

Small fish: fishermen in Iowa City yesterday

I may not be fishing, but I did have lunch in an Iowa City power station turned restaurant with my dad yesterday, and caught this photo of the fishermen below as they caught a somewhat smaller fish. The restaurant did not have swordfish on the menu, so I ordered salmon.

PS. I’ll be back soon!



This recipe was in the Blue Plate Specials of Personal Chef’s Network, the national organization of personal chefs I joined when I started my business. It rapidly became a client favorite, so I’ve been making it to the delight of many ever since. It is perfect for any elegant entertaining you would like to do, but also easy enough to whip up for a weeknight dinner.


4 6-ounce center cut wild salmon filets
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil


1). Whisk together soy sauce, lemon juice, sesame oil, garlic, and honey. Marinate salmon filets in marinade for 20-30 minutes, turning once to absorb on both sides.

2). Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove salmon filets from marinade, pat dry, then press coarsely ground black pepper on both sides and add to hot pan. Cook until browned, 3-4 minutes, then turn over to brown on other side, another 3-4 minutes. Serve hot.


Serve with lemon Jasmine rice or lemon couscous with peas, and Sautéed beet greens or sweet and sour asparagus.


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  • May 15, 2012
    8:23 am

    Your salmon looks delicious! I enjoyed your fishing story. I was never allowed to go deep sea fishing with my parents for the same reason your family was taking you back to shore. I was too much of a complainer.

    • May 15, 2012
      7:36 pm

      I don’t know how I tolerated myself back in those days 🙂

  • May 15, 2012
    11:16 am

    I’m with you. I hate that they call fishing (and hunting, for that matter) a sport. It’s not a sport if only one side knows they’re playing! (I’m OK with eating what you hunt)

    Plus, my brother has called my dad “the black hand” for years. If my dad is on the boat NO ONE catches fish. It is the most incredible thing you’ve ever seen!

    Glad you’re enjoying your trip home. That recipe looks delish!

  • May 15, 2012
    7:38 pm

    I’m enjoying my parents, not sure I would call the trip. I’m so exhausted I need a holiday from my holiday. They may be getting up there in years, but they are like the energizer bunny nonstop.

  • May 16, 2012
    6:20 am

    Quite a catch, Julie Anne! I have a huge fear of anything boat related so even if I did fish, I couldn’t. Just reading ‘bobbing up and down” is enough to give me the creeps! The salmon is beautiful though! Such amazing colour and delicious as usual.

    I did catch some kind of fish once. I was 9 and a friend of my mom’s had a party at their farmhouse. A little river ran through the property and the woman insisted I join her fishing. Using a piece of hot dog as bait ( I refused to do that to the worm) I did catch a fish and ran screaming from the whole scene. Forget that!

    I have to admit… the idea of a mounted fish being rigged to say eff off gave me a severe case of the giggles but I guess it’s not that appropriate for fancier parties! LOL

  • May 16, 2012
    10:24 am

    Thought you might like that one Rachel!

    I’ll never forget catching my first fish at the end of the dock at the lake when I was little, and dad telling me anything I caught, I had to eat. I was convinced that fishes ghost would come looking for me, and eat me too. Hasn’t turned me into a vegetarian yet, though.

  • May 17, 2012
    6:07 am

    my dad used to fish sometimes at the sunset, on the beach of Alghero, Sardinia where we lived. I remember my sister taking the fishes from his bucket, one by one – unseen by dad – and letting them go back into the sea. Everytime dad pretended to be angry, and then helped my sister in the action…:) Fond memories of a beloved father that left us a few years ago, unfortunately. I was a complicated teen as well, but believe me, I would give anything to go back to one of those days, just one…just to give a hug, and say goodbye to dad, and to that young, frecked, little me, that has gone away with him, and with those sunsets…thanks Jewels.

  • May 17, 2012
    6:25 am

    Wow impressed with your catch.Maybe he was rescued from the dust bins. Now resides in a fashionable London apartment considered art. Im glad you are having a nice visit with the family. This Salmon dish I will try 🙂 xo Happy Travels to you 🙂

  • May 17, 2012
    7:11 am

    Nick has quite the playful sense of humour, hasn’t he? Personally, I love the idea of a stuffed fish telling me to f**K off. 😉

    I’ve been fishing once in my life, and like you, I found it mostly boring. All those hours of sitting there and all I caught was a baby catfish that I had to throw back.

  • May 17, 2012
    10:37 am

    Great story. Being from a Florida coastal town, fishing was normal but for me it meant headphones and sunbathing. LOL, would have had a heart attack if I caught something that size. I bet the men in your family were proud.