Prior to my career as a full time fishing, I grew up in commercial fishing – and still commercial fish from time to time when I'm not running charters or filming. It is in my DNA to deliver the best quality product to my clients, and customers, for table fare or to the fish house. The sun is hot, the water is warm, and it does not take long for good quality fish to spoil. If you are chartering a boat and plan on taking some fish home for dinner, make sure you talk with the guide prior to your trip to understand how the fish will be cleaned. Also be sure to know where you can find ice, coolers, and freezer space to take care of your catch. Take only what you can properly handle, store and eat. Here are some tips for keeping your catch cool and fresh:
I only use YETI coolers, they are by far the best cooler I have ever used. I keep them on my boat, dock, and in my truck for keeping my catch fresh.
You have to have lots of ice on the boat, and at the dock. Do not let fish lay in carts or on the dock in the sun with no ice, take your pictures quickly and ensure you get your catch back on the ice.
1. Keep a clean filet table. Spray off the table regularly and do not filet the fish in the guts, dirt, or slime. Keep your table as clean as a kitchen counter.
2.Do not pile your filets in the sun on the cutting table, as you filet your catch, bag it and put in back on ice, again it does not take long to spoil in the sun.
If you plan on freezing your catch, invest in a ‘vacuum sealer’, this will allow your fish to stay frozen longer and not be wasted, make sure what you take, you eat. If a vacuum sealer is not in the budget, use this trick from Capt Scott Walker:
When traveling by air with your catch, you should freeze your catch, pack all the bags of filets in a yeti soft side cooler. The night before you leave make sure the cooler is packed full, take the air out with newspaper, and allow the entire cooler to spend the night in the freezer. This is the best way to get your catch home without thawing out.
Make sure you plan out what you want to keep and eat, we encourage our clients to practice catch and release, and take home what you will eat!
– Steve Rodger