Fishing 101: Caring for Your Catch
Battered and fried over a campfire, roasted whole on sticks, baked in hobo packets on hot coals—no matter how it’s fixed, freshly caught fish can be the highlight of a meal enjoyed after a day of successful fishing, that is, if the catch is properly cared for before cooking.
Bye-bye bruising, bacteria and sliminess.
For firm fish filets, handle catches with care. Land them quickly and stun them immediately to eliminate bruising, which can lead to mushy fish. To eradicate slime and germs, wash catches in cold running water with clean hands.
So long, stinky fish!
Fish rots quickly. With care, however, fresh catches can be safely kept for about a week before cooking. To maintain freshness for as long as possible, fish must be put into an icy mixture immediately and kept on ice—even after it’s refrigerated.
Three ways to keep catches cool.
Fresh catches may be kept on ice in various ways. No matter which method is chosen, crushed ice rather than ice cubes should be used. (Ice cubes melt too slowly and may discolor the fish.)
Some anglers prefer placing fish under about four inches of crushed ice in a cooler, preferably one with a spigot. As the ice melts, the water is drained away, and more ice is added. Others prefer placing catches in plastic, sealable bags, and then immersing the bags in an insulated chest filled with crushed ice.
Probably the most convenient way to keep freshly caught fish fresh is to immerse clean, stunned catches in a slurry of freshwater and ice or sea water and ice immediately. As time allows, gut the fish and remove the gills. Then place them belly down in ice, cover them in more ice and close the ice chest lid to ensure that the fish stays as cold as possible.
Hello, fresh fish dinner!
Freshly caught fish that has been quickly landed and stunned, thoroughly cleaned, and constantly kept on ice won’t stink. And it won’t be a slimy, mushy, difficult-to-handle mess to filet and cook. Enjoy it days later at home or immediately as the main attraction of a lakeside meal.
Individual Hobo Packet Recipe
1 filet of fish, such as salmon
Yellow squash, sliced
Orange or lemon, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1+ Tbsp. olive oil
Mix carrots, mushrooms, squash and other vegetables of choice with basil, salt, pepper and olive oil. Place mixture on sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil and top with fish filet. Drizzle filet with olive oil and top with orange or lemon slices. Fold the foil over, sealing it well. Cook over charcoal about 15 minutes, longer if filets are thicker than 1/2 inch.