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fresh fish chowderFresh Fish Chowder

One of the best parts of ice fishing is turning our catches into a fresh fish chowder. Traditionally, my family always used haddock for fish chowder. We didn’t ice fish back then. Steve took me ice fishing for the first time when we moved to Washington County. It was a lot of fun. Kristin, our then six year old, pulled her first fish up through the ice. She laid eyes on that toothy pickerel, screeched and let go of the line. The fish disappeared beneath the ice, still on the hook, and was pulled up by Steve.

Cooking on the ice is a big part of ice fishing for us now. We build a fire on the ice and sometimes cook there. Other times we set up the Coleman stove and cook there. Hot dogs, red of course, deer or moose steaks, hamburgers, and when the fishing is good, fresh fish chowder. We use yellow and/or white perch, bass and sometimes cusk. I’d rather save cusk for a fish fry but when we catch a smaller one we put it to good use.

Cooking on the Ice

Cooking on the ice requires either extra time because of the cold or pre-cooking preparations at home. You might want to cut up the potatoes and simmer them at home. Or bake potatoes. Cool them before you pack them up. It won’t take them long to reheat. If you decide to cook while you’re fishing you’ll need to add extra time to bring the water to boil and extra heat to keep it simmering. Keep the pot covered to help hold in heat.

And speaking of water. If you’re uncomfortable using water from the lake or pond you’ll want to bring some with you. Since I bring the water to a boil and let it boil at least five minutes, I don’t mind cooking with lake water. If I’m okay with eating fish from that water I’m okay using the water for cooking.

Fresh Fish Chowder on the Ice - On The Fire

Course Chowder
Author Robin Follette


  • 3 cups potatoes bite sized (see above)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup onions chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery chopped
  • 2 cans condensed milk
  • 3 cups water (see above)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a 10 to 12 quart sauce pan or pot, melt the butter and then add the onions and celery. Stir until the onions are translucent. Remove from heat and set the pot aside to cool.
  • If you didn't cook the potatoes at home, cut them into bite-sized pieces.
  • Add water and potatoes to the cooled pot. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are tender.
  • While the potatoes cook, filet the fish. Remove the flesh from the skin.
  • When the potatoes are half cooked, add the fish to the top of the pot and replace the lid. Turn heat on and return to a simmer. Simmer 10-15 minutes, time depending on the size of the fillets.
  • When the fish is cooked, pour the condensed milk into the pot and stir. Keep the heat on while the milk is hot but not simmering. Add salt and pepper to taste.