The Pack Report

Grip, Grin, and Grilling

Grip, Grit, Grin, and Grilling

The outdoor guide on how to properly cook fish over an open campfire.

Why not make your evening meal even more of an adventure by cooking over a fire? Whether you are camping and fire is your only means of preparing food, or if you are seeking more creative ways of tackling dinner within the comfort of your backyard, cooking fish over a campfire will allow for more natural and bolder flavors within your meal. Listed below, there are multiple captivating ways to engage upon over the fire cooking, with slight differences within each style that will bring out individual textures and flavors for each new meal idea and recipe!

Hobo Foil Pack

The hobo foil pack method makes for a delicious meal yet is completely simple to create. This method of cooking allows for the food inside the aluminum foil to become very tender, which produces an intensified flavor for your meal. This style of cooking is our favorite when we are out camping in the BWCAW. All you need is:

  • Heavy aluminum foil (cut into large squares).
  • Saucepan (not for fish, only if you want to create a glaze/sauce for the top of your meal).
  • Cooking grate (to set hobo foil packs above open flame).
  • Fish of your choice (already gutted, filleted, and ready to be cooked).
  • Any extra veggies, garnishes (lemon, seasoning, spices, herbs) needed to enhance your meal.

The steps to create this flavorful meal are almost as simple as the ingredients themselves; first, cut aluminum foil into large square-shaped pieces and make dressing for the fish in a saucepan (optional). Next, place the prepared fish and veggies/potatoes/rice (again optional) onto the aluminum foil piece, add some olive oil/dressing into the pack for added flavor and tenderness. Then, wrap the aluminum foil up around the contents nice and tight to avoid any moisture from escaping. Finally, grill for 5-8 minutes on one side, flip and grill again on the other until the fish becomes flaky and savory. Open the hobo foil pack, dig in, and enjoy!

Here are some recipes ideas for the hobo foil pack method:

Boiling Fish

Boiling your catch of the day is the easiest form of cooking a meal over a fire, all you need is;

  • A large pot/cooking grate.
  • Your fish.
  • Plates / utensils.
  • Additional Seasoning/garnishes/ elements to enhance meal (optional).

You will set the pot (fit to the size of your catch) on a cooking grate over the fire filled with water. Once the water comes to a boil, throw your gutted fish into the water and wait for it to cook. Sidenote, we prefer to keep the skin on the fish to preserve the naturally occurring oils within the fish for added flavor. Let the fish boil for about 8-10 minutes, but the easiest way to check to see if your meal is complete is to see if the meat flakes from the fish once you cut into it. You can bring extra items to cook alongside your boiled fish as well – corn, potatoes, rice, etc.

Frying/ Fileting Fish

Whether you feel like frying or filleting your catch of the day, both methods will deliver a mouthwatering and satisfying meal. Easy enough, find a recipe that you cannot resist, and try it out on an open flame for the extra natural and smoky flavor. Here is what is needed:

  • Frying/Cast Iron/Skillet Pan.
  • Cooking Grate.
  • Cooking Oil (olive oil for a healthier choice).
  • Your catch of the day.
  • Batter (if choosing to fry).
  • Bowl to make the fish batter / other side mixes for your recipe.
  • Plates/utensils.

First, you will place a pan on top of the cooking grate and pour the cooking oil (olive oil) onto the pan while it is heating up. Once the oil starts to simmer place the fish into pan/along with any other ingredients your recipe calls for. Cook the meat and other elements until tender, crisp, and the flavors have transpired together while stirring the blend occasionally. (Note: frying fish in oil will follow a different recipe and amount of oil used than fileting a dish would call for)

Here are some recipe ideas for frying/fileting method:

Over Coals

Cooking over an open fire already gives the meal a more natural and smoky flavor, the process of cooking your fish right over the coals will leave you with a charcoaled and crisp tang, leaving you wanting even more! The first thing you will want to do in preparation for cooking your fish over the coals is to gut the fish, however, leaving the skin to protect the inside. Once the coals are hot enough, stick the skewers directly through the fish lengthwise and directly place the fish skewers on top of the coals, it will not take much time to cook the fish with this method, so make sure you are flipping the fish from one side to another frequently to avoid burning! Once the fish is cooked thoroughly, the meat will flake right off!


Everything tastes better when it is grilled, especially during these summer months when we can cook in the great outdoors. What a great way to cook your catch of the day with enriched flavors, by grilling it. All you need is:

  • A grill basket.
  • Your fish.
  • Extra spices/herbs called for within the recipe.

Prepare your fish by gutting and adding seasoning to it, once the grill basket has heated up, place the fish fillets on the grill basket over the open flame. Grill your fish until it is tender and flaky, make sure to add garnishes and extra elements for enhancement!

Here are some recipes to follow for grilling your fish over a campfire:

We hope you enjoy and savor these methods of preparing a fish dinner over your campfire, along with the meal ideas above. If you have more recipe ideas you would like to share with us, feel free to give us a shout at [email protected].

Note: All of the example recipes listed above can be tested and created with any type of fish caught or bought.

Happy cooking, friends!

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