Queen of Gourmet Bass
By Bob Lusk
Bill and Ann Boone are a hard working, fun loving couple in their prime. Their business is pizza... literally... the Boone's own a number of Mr. Gatti's stores around the nation. They live in Austin, Texas and own a race horse farm in Louisville, Kentucky. Several years ago, the Boone's decided to elevate the practice race track at their Round House Farm. What better way to find the dirt than excavate a pond in the middle of the track? After all, there's a constant flowing spring rolling through and they needed the dirt. So, their ranch foreman went to work with a backhoe and dump truck after work and on weekends. After many months of digging, moving and spreading dirt, Round House Farm had the coolest 5 acre bass lake ... right in the middle of their newly-raised race track. The lake bottom looks like a bomb went off in it. The lake filled with rainfall and spring water, Boone stocked it and the fishing hole has been a productive fishery. Too productive, as it turns out. In the beginning, the lake was stocked with hybrid sunfish and largemouth bass. As it goes, hybrid sunfish don't reproduce adequately to support largemouth bass... so, inevitably, the largemouth reached about 10-12 inches and stopped growing. After a few years, the Boone's had the lake analyzed and decided to stock pure strain bluegill and develop a food chain for their hungry bass, all the while beginning an earnest culling program culling program to thin his bass herd. They fertilize annually, keep the feeders full and even stock some golden shiners each spring as a supplement. Fittingly, Bill Boone is now considered the "King of Cull" because, to date, he and his crew, since 2001, have removed more than 800 small bass from the lake. Finally, in 2005, they started catching some good fish.
As a result of the culling program, the lovely Ann Boone found some pretty creative, and delicious, recipes for small bass. And, yes, she does her share of fish-catching. No one has cooked more baby bass than Ann Boone. No one is a better chef than Ann Boone. Two of her favorites are below. Ann says, "The batter for delicate baby bass has to be perfect and the potato flakes work�light but crunchy. And, the Italian bass is great for entertaining. It's lots of fun." So here's a toast to Bill and Ann Boone, the "King of Cull" and "Queen of Gourmet Bass."
Ann's Fried Bass
Add 3-4 Tablespoons mustard to bowl of water. Soak bass fillets in water for 15 minutes.
Combine equal parts flour & potato flakes in pie pan. Add 1 Tablespoon each of black pepper and garlic salt.
Crush potato flakes and flour with the back of a large spoon until they are thoroughly combined.
Dip fish in crumbs until completely coated. Saute fillets in canola oil until browned. Serve with lemon wedges or tartar sauce.
1-28 oz can chopped tomatoes
1-red bell pepper-chopped
2-teaspoons Italian seasoning
.8 oz sliced black olives
7 oz large green olives-sliced
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
1 cup sliced mushrooms
Saute onion, bell pepper and garlic in olive Oil until soft. Add chopped tomatoes and the remaining ingredients. Saute for 45 minutes.
Put fish in greased shallow baking dish. Pour tomato mixture over fish and bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Serve over buttered noodles or pasta of choice.