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Cook Your Catch: Foolproof Fried Fish

Mercury Pro Mike McClelland knows more than just bass fishing. Learn his family recipe to fried fish!


It seems like just about everyone claims to know the very best way to fry fish, but when renowned bass angler Mike McClelland offers to tell you how he does it, it’s probably worth a listen.

McClelland, 52, of Blue Eye, Missouri, is a Mercury Pro Team member, and he’s been a professional angler for 31 years. His diverse skillset has earned him eight major wins and nearly $2 million in career earnings.

But long before he started fishing bass tournaments, the Arkansas native was chasing any and all edible freshwater species for his family to fry up for dinner. In this Cook Your Catch video, McClelland – or “McStick,” as he’s known on tour – will tell you about his family recipe for frying panfish. The recipe has scarcely changed in half a century, according to McClelland, but it’s still just as tasty as it ever was, and there’s a good chance this method will go great with the panfish that are available in your area.


  • 1 package of Premium Saltine crackers
  • 3-5 eggs
  • Milk
  • Cabela’s Fish Fry Seasoning or Uncle Buck’s Seasoning
  • Fish fillets


Crush the saltines or puree in a blender until they are almost a fine powder, then pour the powder in a large, flat pan and add the desired about of seasoning, then mix well. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and add a few ounces of milk, then mix thoroughly into a batter. Note, the number of eggs and amount of milk used will vary based on how many filets you are cooking.

Dip a filet into the batter, then pull it out and let the excess batter drip back into the bowl, and toss the filet into the cracker mixture. Once you have two or three filets in the breading pan, flip them over repeatedly to get plenty of crumbs stuck to all surfaces, then gently pat each fillet to work the crumbs into the fish. Once a fillet is fully covered in breading, set it aside and repeat until all of your fillets are prepped. Finally, fry the fillets carefully in a deep fryer or specialty fish fryer until golden brown and the internal temperature is 145 degrees Fahrenheit. A double-box fryer is ideal because it allows you to easily cook side dishes such as fries, tater tots or onion rings at the same time as your fish. Add some grilled corn on the cob, your beverage of choice and perhaps some Louisiana-style hot sauce, and you’ve got a shore lunch that will make you the envy of the fish camp, lake house or neighborhood.

This recipe works well for rock bass, walleye, crappie, blue gill, goggle eye, catfish – just about any freshwater fish you can catch, whether it’s a true panfish or not. You can also try it with any saltwater species that tastes good deep-fried.

To learn more about Mike McClelland and follow him on the 2020 Major League Fishing trail, visit You can also follow him on Facebook at and tell him how your fried fish turned out!

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Cook Your Catch: Foolproof Fried Fish
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