Sunday afternoon visit to trout farm makes for a unique family afternoon – and great eats

Blake and Hunter Durbin fish for rainbow trout at Rushing Waters trout farm in Palmyra. (Dan Durbin photos)

If you’re looking for a unique family activity, a good place to consider is Rushing Waters in Palmyra, where a person can fish for rainbow trout that provide for a great meal without even having to buy a fishing license.

Co-owner Peter Fritsch has been at it since 1997, when he was hired by the farm’s founder, Bill Graham.

“Bill Graham hired me back in 1997,” Fritsch said. “With his vision and my management, it has become what it is today.”

Now, I’m not normally the type of guy to go fishing on a “game farm,” but the experience was really cool. The property is magnificent and truly interesting to tour. Various ponds held rainbow trout of different sizes, which was just plain fun to see.

My wife and I took our kids, Hunter and Blake, to try Rushing Waters’ hook-and-cook plan, where you fish for trout and then the chef at the restaurant, located on the property, prepares them for you on the spot.

“The local food movement has really helped us,” Fritsch said. “People want to eat local and care more about what they consume. We grow more trout now than ever, yet our reach is smaller.”

There were thousands of trout swimming around – very much like a trout pond you’d find at a sport show, but we were outside enjoying the elements. To my surprise, the fish did not bite right away, which was good. We were using red worms as bait and the fish were reluctant enough to make it a real fishing situation.  They did bite, but Hunter and Blake both had better luck when they stayed low to the ground so the fish wouldn’t see their silhouettes as easily.

In about 30 minutes they caught five rainbows. A family next to us had about six people fishing, too, and said that the experience was perfect for them since they didn’t own a boat or any real gear – it allowed them to have a fishing experience without having to invest in gear. They took the fish home to prepare them, but we took ours to the Rushing Waters chef.

The smoked fish and cheese platter.

“The hook-and-cook program is truly a one-of-a-kind deal,” Fritsch said.

I asked Fritsch if he or the chefs came up with the menu.

“Chefs are interesting; let’s leave it at that,” he said. “Basically we have the building blocks with our products, but let them assemble the dinners with their own touches. They love the freedom we give them.”

Beer-battered rainbow trout fillets at Rushing Waters.

We started our meal with shoestring onion strings and a cheese and smoked fish platter. Rushing Waters smokes their own fish and also ships fresh trout out all over the world. Both appetizers were presented handsomely and prepared perfectly. Simple and tasty.

The trout we caught were cleaned and cooked while we worked on our appetizers.  You can have your catch prepared Cajun style, pan-fried, or beer-battered. I had the pan-fried while the rest of my family went for the beer-battered option. Like the appetizers, they were prepared perfectly and were accompanied by fries or potato pancakes, apples sauce, a nice fruit blend, and a chunk of rye bread.

It was a nice change of pace from a normal Sunday afternoon.

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