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Fish Type: Bluegill     Price: $15.00

Overall, I would highly recommend this Fish Fry.

Fish Score: Excellent
Potato Score: Excellent
Tartar Score: Good
Bread Score: Excellent
Miscellaneous Score: Fair

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Comment: Having friends that own a lake house is the next best thing to owning one yourself. I take that back...having friends that own a lake house AND invite you up to it every year is the next best thing to owning one yourself. Our good friends Brian and Mallory have a place up on Castle Rock Lake, and once every year we visit them for a weekend, starting on a Friday. Of course, since the festivities kick off on Friday night there is a requisite Fish Fry involved.

We're making our way around the west shore of the flowage and this year we docked at Shipwreck Bay. For those that have never been up that way, Castle Rock is a party lake (by which I mean people drink non-stop), and Shipwreck caters to that crowd with a large marina and mammoth dock-side patio. They also take their Friday Fish Fry seriously with literally ALL the usual suspects - cod, walleye, lake perch, bluegill, and even had a $10 AYCE Pollock. For a Fish Fry fiend like myself it was hard to narrow the field, but I settled on the $15 bluegill with a side of (what the waitress claimed were) genuine potato pancakes. It took a looooooong time for the fish to fry, but luckily the booze was flowing and it didn't hinder our spirits one bit. Our four year old had loads of activities (thanks to his well-organized mother) and didn't seem to mind the delay so we took it in stride.

At first blush I doubted that the bluegill was the genuine article as the fillets were suspiciously large (like three to an order large). However, it did have the signature sunfish flavor so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on this one. Each was lightly dusted in conservatively seasoned breading and fried just right. They were rigid, but not crispy, and still plenty juicy which made them easy to handle just like the potato pancakes...

Just like the potato pancakes you say!? Yup...these pancakes were like nothing I've seen before, but to be fair, I haven't see a ton. They were firm, thicker than average, and could be eaten like chips. Three on the plate made for a generous portion, and while they didn't necessarily look the part (like the fish) the flavor was divine (also like the fish). They were onion-y and herb-y and offset by the sweetness of the apple sauce on the side (syrup or sour cream were also options so you know they take things pretty seriously).

A big squeeze bottle of tartar was there for the taking and I plopped a big old dollop down right next to the thin fillets. It was a great supper club style sauce with a kick and punch that put the bluegill over the hump. A nice piece of pump rye did it's job and the bevy of second side choices kept us on our toes. From slaw and cottage cheese to salad or soup the world was our oyster. I was feeling ballsy after a few whiskey sours and went for the chowder which was about as average as a chowder gets. A couple clam bites near the bottom, and more potato than anything else, resulted in a soup that wasn't bad but was far from mind-blowing.

If you're lucky enough to own a lake house up on Castle Rock or even if you're just lucky enough to have friends that do make sure to take a Friday and get wrecked at the Ship. The place is always bumpin' and they clearly take their Friday specials very seriously. Overall, we highly recommend this Fish Fry and think it's one hell of a way to start a weekend at The Lake!
N7265 Shacks Road
Mauston, WI 53948

(608) 847-2401