To ensure that your fish taste good when it is time to eat them, here are some simple steps to follow. Follow these steps any time you go fishing, but especially when air or water temperatures are above 40 degrees F:
1. Fill a cooler with ice; lots of ice. Chipped ice is best. Block ice might keep your drinks cool, but it won’t keep your fish cold.
2. As fish are caught, dispatch them immediately.
3. Add a bit of water in your cooler to create a sort of “slurry”. Slide the fish under the ice and into this ‘slurry’ as they come aboard. Keep adding ice regularly.
4. If you can’t remove the guts and gills immediately, do so when there is lull in the action, then put the fish back into the slurry.
5. When you are done for the day, make sure to keep the fish ice-cold until just before they are either cooked or until packaged for the freezer.
6. If freezing your catch, wrap them well in plastic wrap and then vacuum seal them. You will be amazed at the freshness when it is time to pull them out of the freezer. No vacuum sealer-first, tightly wrap them in plastic wrap and then tightly wrap them in freezer paper.
7. If you are camping or on the road, remove the fish from the slurry and pack into another cooler. Make sure that each fish is well-covered with ice and the gill and gut cavities area also filled with ice.
Taking proper care of your catch is the only way the meat is going to stay firm and tasty. Commercial fishermen will tell you that the best way to keep any fish fresh is to pack them in ice. Do yourself and those who may be sharing your catch a favor and give this a try. You will be pleasantly surprised at the difference in taste.