Sunday night, with a small crowd watching on the sidewalk in front of her dining room for the poor on North Collington Avenue, Bea Gaddy took the heads off with a hacksaw. Then she scaled the three fish -- two 30-pounders and one weighing 20 -- and cleaned the insides. Monday, she put each beast in a pan, draped them in onions, spiced them and slid them under the broiler in her kitchen.
"We fed 50 people," she says, pleased that everyone seemed to enjoy a late-spring supper of river tuna.
Or reservoir tuna.
Most of us call it carp, the bottom-feeding freshwater fish that can grow to eye-popping sizes. Some snoots, who have probably never tasted it, call it "junk fish."
As food, after all, it's an acquired taste. As good as the seafood is there, you just don't see carp carpaccio on the menu at Germano's, you know?
Richard Gick doesn't eat it or make judgments about it; he just provides it.
He and his wife, Frances, decoy carvers from Howard County, have been bringing freshly caught fish to Bea Gaddy's Patterson Park Emergency Food Center for years. Now, in an attempt to get more anglers into the act, they've organized the River Tuna and Catfish Invitational, a weeklong "tuna tournament" aimed at harvesting freshwater fish for the hungry. (The tournament runs through Saturday. Registration costs $10. Call 410-747-4246.)
Gaddy is happy to have the harvest -- and doesn't care much about carp's social standing.
"It's delicious," she says. "It's too big, and too greasy to fry. So I just broil it. We're getting some catfish, too, and I'm just giving it away to people in the neighborhood. They love it."
The Gicks chose carp and catfish as their tournament quarry because such species, though edible, are the outcasts of American sport fishing society. "We didn't want to deplete the game-fish stocks," Gick says, referring to bass, walleye and other freshwater fish prized by sport anglers.
Truth is, most people who fish don't even cast in a carp's general direction -- at least not on purpose. Though I've heard of a small angling club with the Latin motto "Carpe carplum," which means "Seize the carp."
What we're talking about here is a genuine niche sport. And for that reason alone -- mark my words -- one of these days we're going to see it on ESPN2.
At least two participants in the River Tuna and Catfish Invitational use arrows to hunt big carp in the rivers and creeks that feed the Chesapeake. (Carp often swim in shallow muddy water, where they can be spotted by a bow fisher wearing Polaroid sunglasses.)
Edgemere bow fishers George Malone and his son David harvested the ones Bea Gaddy served the other night. The Malones stand in their johnboat and try to hit their targets in 1 to 3 feet of water.
Richard Gick, a conventional fisherman with rod and reel, prefers the vanilla or licorice dough ball on a hook. He combines 2 cups of cornmeal, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar and a little water to form a glob he flavors with "Granny Clampett perfume" (vanilla extract) or anise. He then ties a cloth around the concoction and boils it for an hour.
Next morning, that's what he takes aboard his boat on Triadelphia Reservoir. He caught several carp in the first three days of the tournament and expects to bring hundreds of pounds to Bea Gaddy by Saturday.
I asked Gick which flavor of dough ball the Triadelphia carp prefer.
"Vanilla, by far," he says.
Right. Licorice is an acquired taste.
Terps football exclusive
Ever notice how your state income tax refund appears in the mail along with a friendly suggestion that you spend part of it on Terps football tickets? Happens every year about this time.
Curious we are: How, in a state with so many universities and worthy nonprofit organizations, do the Terps manage to land this exclusive, direct-mail advertising for their $138 season tickets? And why the football program, as opposed to, say, women's basketball, or the chess club?
Maybe Morgan State would like to get in on this. Why not boost the Bears? Or maybe the school's nationally recognized engineering program -- or its award-winning forensics team, for that matter -- would like similar fund-raising assistance.
Marvin Bond, spokesman for the state comptroller, said the practice dates back about 10 years. The General Assembly granted authority to the comptroller's office to tuck into its tax mailings solicitations on behalf of organizations required to raise funds as a condition of receiving state aid.
Maryland Magazine was the first to try it. Then the Terps and Maryland Public Television got into the act. The comptroller requires the organizations to provide, at their expense, the mailings. They must fit into the envelopes and not add to postage costs.
Occasionally another college or organization inquires about sponsoring a flier, Bond said. But they are usually put off by the cost of printing the 1.6 million pamphlets required. "It's less attractive to a smaller school," he said.
Let alone the Towson State University swim club.
This Just In appears each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Graphic anecdotes, thoughtful commentary and unique observations about life as we know it are always welcome. Contact Dan Rodricks by voice mail at 410-332-6166; e-mail at TJIDAol.com; or address letters to The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.
! Pub Date: 6/18/97