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I have a question about keeping fish fresh while fishing. Fishing from a pontoon boat without a live well, and unable to dress

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  • I have a question about keeping fish fresh while fishing. Fishing from a pontoon boat without a live well, and unable to dress

    I have a question about keeping fish fresh while fishing. Fishing from a pontoon boat without a live well, and unable to dress them on the boat because the owner doesn't want the mess. Is it alright to put them alive in a cooler packed in ice for a few hours? I've heard that this is okay as long as they are not resting in a slurry of ice and water. Anyone have any advice?

  • #2
    Keeping them on ice is fine and there's nothing wrong with a water/ice slurry. They should be gutted, at least, within ten hours. Don't let fillets soak in water or it will leach out the flavor.

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    • #3
      You could keep them on a stringer in the water. Except for trout, which require lot of oxygen, they will remain alive. They don't keep much fresher than that.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the advice. I was thinking about using a stringer, but never have before, and was concerned about them dying on the line.

        Mostly fishing for walleye.

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        • #5
          In a ice/water mix is fine. The only ones I keep immersed in ice cubes without the water is fresh water drum, - they have to be kept very cold as they break down fast if not.

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          • #6
            I keep mine on a stringer the majority of the time. Also, even if available, I won't gut my fish until the end of the day when I can prep them for final storage...or the frying pan.

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            • #7
              Walleye, bass, pike, are tough as nails. Go ahead and keep them on a stringer. They'll easily stay alive till end of day. However, if there are turtles in the area, be advised you may be providing them with an easy smorgasbord. Keeping trout on a stringer may not keep them very fresh depending on water temp and weather conditions. They will invariably die fairly quickly on a stringer. Once dead, trout/salmon will go soft relatively easily and some species quicker than others (e.g. pink salmon will go soft if you look at them wrong).

              I remember about thirty years ago one hot August day I was fly fishing in the remote Montana wilderness when a bunch of dudes from Arkansas came floating by in an outfitter's raft. "Whaar's yer fish?" one of them hollers. "Swimming under your raft I'm guessing." "Har, har! Wahll, here's ours, suunny!" The jerk hauls up a stringer of beautiful cutthroat trout so rotten they almost fell off the chain! I replied, "There's a great place for a shore lunch at Spruce Cabin about five miles downriver. You boys enjoy your meal." "Gee, thanks pal!" ("I'm NOT your pal!") I hope those clowns brought lots of toilet paper! The pickup point wasn't for another ten miles past the cabin. If they ate those trout at the lunch spot, they should have all been experiencing major episodes of the Hershey squirts by the time they hit the road. Serves em right.

              I'm glad to see a new sportsman asking these kinds of questions. As an ethical outdoorsman it is imperative to understand when to hold em and when to throw em ... or let them walk away. Incidentally, none of those douche bags in the raft were young novices. Just a bunch of old slobs.

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              • #8
                If you don't go with the stringer method (which I would recommend per the same reasons as stated above), a cooler of ice should be fine. While ice fishing, we throw keepers right on the ice/snow, and let em freeze while we keep fishing. Makes a little harder to clean, as you have to find a balance during the thawing process to decide when to clean them, but straight into a cooler of ice will work if that's the method you choose. No idea on the ice/water mix though...

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                • #9
                  You'll need to pull the fish in every time you make a run to another spot. Those species are usually okay for several minutes out of water. Or toss them in a cooler full of water stringer and all. Then plop them back in the lake when you stop to fish. You should keep them going most of the day that way. If you don't forget to pull them in, they're done for pretty quickly once the speed is up.

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                  • #10
                    mcanyon

                    July 2010 was my first experience on Kodiak Island in Alaska. We caught salmon, halibut, ling and grey cod and tons of rock fish.
                    Each fish caught was tossed into a "keeper" box with an ice slurry. Before being tossed in, the Cap'n or deckhand would cut their gills.
                    I finally asked, "Why do you cut the gills?"
                    Cutting the gills bleeds the fish out, like cutting a deer's throat. Bleeding the fish along with icing keeps them as fresh as possible. Blood, in game animals or game fish, promotes spoilage.

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                    • #11
                      Ok so rule of thumb is - -
                      1: keep them on a streamer they will last all day if u did not hurt the fish IE it swallowed the hook.
                      2: your good as long as they are alive.
                      3: if u see one get stiff- you have about 1 hour to clean it (gut it)
                      4: soft meat means that it’s gone bad

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                      • #12
                        I use a Drift boat on my river trips. It does not have a live well. I take along a big cooler with a couple bags of ice and it keeps the fish fresh all day. The ice that melts keeps the water cold all day.

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