A lot of people like to eat their catch, Im one of “those guys”. Years ago I would catch my fish, put them on a stringer or in a live well. At the end of the day would fillet them. I did notice the fish would be “mushy” and not taste very good. After a fishing trip with a couple older guys I learned a very important lesson. Fish prep before you’re off the water. Here are a few steps I do to keep the fish cool and more desirable to eat.

  1. After catching the fish, I slit its throat and put it in the live well. The fish will generally bleed out in a few minutes. Bleeding the fish out gives us 2 results. Keeps the lactic acid from entering the meat. It also keeps blood from getting on the cleaning area, less mess to clean up.

  2. Keep your live well pumping, the water in your well will get very warm and nasty.

  3. I then throw them in a cooler UNDER ice. I always put meat under ice, this helps keep the meat as cold as possible.

  4. Ice fishing is a different animal all together. Frozen fish is tougher too fillet. In the winter immediately after the cash I will slit their throats. After they bleed out I will put them in a cooler.

When you get to the cleaning station your fish will be very cool and firm but wait there’s more. After cleaning your fish rinse them off thoroughly with fresh water. This washes off bacteria that will start breaking down the fish. Put them in a plastic bag, under ice, when you get to the campsite or home the fish will be in excellent shape to eat.

If you are freezing the fish for a later meal, either vacuum seal the fish or freeze them in water. We put our fillets in a plastic bag (with the species name and date on it) fill them full of water then force water out of the bag while zipping it shut. This keeps air out of the bag and prevents freezer burn. When thawing out our fish, we will put the bags in cold water. This will help it thaw faster without damaging the meat.

By following these simple tips your fish just might taste a little better. Please remember selective harvest is important. Let hem big fish go so we can have more smaller fish to eat in the future. If your interested in so fish recipes try these. https://www.fishingwithbernie.com/recipes

NPAA Member Bernie Keefe