Keeping Your Fish Fresh

How to keep the fish you’ve caught fresh overnight or during a long fishing session.

It’s actually very easy to keep your freshly caught fish in top condition until you get home and prepare to cook it. Keeping it fresh makes a massive difference to the taste so if you’re not sure how to do it then this guide is definitely for you!

A common problem

Occasionally you see a boat go out and over the 5/6 hour trip they catch a good haul of fish which are thrown into the fish bin. In there they may flap around until they die, as more fish are caught the bin fills up. When the boat heads in for the day the fish start smelling or may feel a bit slimy, this maybe to an even worse extent during a hot day in the summer.

By the time the fish gets home and gets prepared for cooking it’s not in the best of shape and could be well past its best. Although the fish may have been caught that day when compared to fish you can get at a fishmongers or a supermarket it may smell worse and frankly look off.

Fish Ice Box

How to check if fish is off

  • It may sound funny but the more the fish smells “fishy” then the less fresh it is. In general a fresh fish smells clean and doesn’t have a strong smell.
  • Are the eyes clear/bright? Dull looking eyes can be a sign it’s not the freshest.
  • Is it at all slimy? This is a sign it’s been kept warm and is starting to decompose.
  • Does the flesh feel solid with a slight bounce when you touch it? A good fresh fish will be firm and spring back when pressed. If it feels soft then it may be starting to decompose.

The reason the fish you buy at the local fishmongers or supermarket may look better is because it’s put on ice as soon as it’s caught and treated properly right up to the point of sale.

So that’s what can happen and how to check for fish that maybe off, now for the important part…

Iced Mackerel

How to keep fresh caught fish fresh

There is no reason that the fish you catch can’t be in absolutely perfect condition by time you get home and prepare to cook your fish. Remember it has a huge difference in how it will taste so it’s definitely worth the effort of following these small steps.

  • Step 1 – Buy a cool box, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive but before your trip fill it with lots and lots of ice.
    Cool Box
  • Step 2 – Once you catch a fish make sure you kill it straight away with a priest if you have one otherwise dispatch it with a solid object whacked just above the eyes over its head.
  • Step 3 – Add some water + ice to your fish bin/container so you have a cool ‘slurry’, then put the dead fish in. When you catch more fish remember to dispatch them properly before adding to the fish bin, regularly add ice from your cool box to keep your catch cool.
  • Step 4 – If the fishing goes off the boil and you’re not catching much, spend a moment to gut the fish (remove the stomach and gills. This prevents the filets from being tainted by the organs in their as they will begin to rot upon death. It will also stop any worms that live in the gut from permeating the meat.
  • Step 5 – Once you’ve got to the end of your fishing session clean your fish off and pack them into your cool box with the remaining ice.

By following those simple tips you’ll have a much higher quality of fish when it comes to cook and eat it.

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