Thanks Mike! That was some fine eats that day at Saddlebag!
Frying trout, at altitude - (no fires above 10,000), is almost impossible to do correctly over a backpacking stove. Hot spots, crusted pans, clean-up chores, fish not all the way cooked, breaking the fish when turning over...just not worth it (well, not exactly true, but a pain nevertheless.)
The whole trick is to carry a roll of tin foil - doesn't weight that much, and cures all the above woes simply and easily. (Oh, BTW, a good canister stove with a wide flame helps too...cannot do this on a pocket rocket type...recommend something like a MSR Windpro or similar)... Also, helps to have a light-weight, 10+ inch frying pan. I carry a 10 1/2 inch titanium one...~7 ounces - expensive but, IMHO, well worth the weight.
My "secret" recipe:
Cut off heads, leaving an exposed spinal column. Add a little garlic, spices of choice. maybe some Ritz Crackers or similar tucked inside the trout, add wild onions if found, maybe a spritz of lemon or orange juice...drizzle with a little olive oil, and wrap up fish loosely but sealed snugly in the foil. Cook the fish/foil packets slowly (as if you had a choice) in the frypan...3 or 4 will fit inside, and turn over 3 or 4 times...maybe 4 minutes each turn, depending on the size of the fish. If windy, an aluminum foil lid will also help retain heat inside of the pan. When done, open up the wrap, and grab the spine and peal the bones back...should come out clean, leaving 2 boneless slabs of meat.
At lower elevations, where fires are allowed, use the same foil technique but cook directly over hot coals spread out - no pan needed.
Pan stays clean - no scrubbing needed, and afterwards, you can dispose of foil/bones mess in trash, or burn it first and then carry the trash out.
Mountainman who swims with trout