Best Way To Keep Fish Fresh After Catching

Last update: 2023-03-16

Aside from learning how to catch more and bigger fish, anglers should know how to keep their catch fresh after that. If you’re new to this, don’t be afraid, let our experts give you some tips about it.

Dressing Fish Immediately

Best Way To Keep Fish Fresh After CatchingDressing a fish is a “term” meaning that you will have to cut off the guts, gills, fins, and head before packing it with flaked or crushed ice, then storing it in your cooler. Make sure to drain out all the excess water before storing it.

Instead of leaving the fish to slowly die, make a humane cut. This also helps remain the flesh quality.

For the best cooling results, per pound of fish, prepare two pounds of ice; any lower than that might lower the flesh quality as well as encourage bacteria to grow. You can keep them in a cooler, a freezer, or a fridge as long as it has an insulation system and a drain plug open.

Best Way To Keep Fish Fresh After Catching

This method can keep fish fresh for 3-5 days if you remain the right ratio of ice and fish.

Remember to rinse the fish thoroughly and dry them out before storing them. It’d be better if you wrap them with waxed paper, fish will last a bit longer with less deterioration.

Best Way To Keep Fish Fresh After Catching

Freeze Fish

This method is ideal for those anglers who don’t plan to eat the fish immediately. Frozen fish can last up to 12 months if stored properly.

Best Way To Keep Fish Fresh After Catching

There are two ways to freeze fish:

Ice Glazing

If you have time, try ice glazing your catch because this helps keep fish the longest.

Prepare a cold-water solution while putting a baking pan made of metal in the freezer for 15 minutes. Now, remove the pan. Dup your fish in the solution then place it on the pan until you see a nice glaze.

Repeat this cycle until that layer of glaze on the fish is up to ¼” thick.

Next, tightly zip lock, seal, or vacuum the fish and store it in a freezer.

Freeze The Whole Fish

Best Way To Keep Fish Fresh After CatchingScale and gut the fish, then rinse it thoroughly under running water. After air-drying the fish, store it in a ziplock, seal, or vacuum it.

If the fish is fatty and small, this method keeps it up to three months.

If the flesh is lean, it can be up to six months.

Keep The Fish Alive

This is the most popular option of anglers – keeping fish alive before ready to eat them. Depending on the fish size, the water temperature, and the tools you have, there are several ways to keep the fish alive:

Method 1: Keep Them In Shaved Or Flaked Ice

Best Way To Keep Fish Fresh After Catching

Prepare a bucket or a cooler, fill ¾ with shaved or flaked ice. When catching a fish, keep them in there in the upright position, which will make them instantly go dormant.

This method is suitable for storing small fish.

Best Way To Keep Fish Fresh After CatchingRemember two things if you intend to try this one:

1) Never overcrowd

2) Give them plenty of room

The only disadvantage of this method is you probably don’t know if the fish is alive or die already.

Method 2: Store The Fish In A Live Well

This is one of the best methods to keep fish fresh the longest because a live well is literally a water container built with an aerator. The two biggest benefits of this extra tool are cleaning the water and remaining enough oxygen in the water for fish to breathe.

However, the price tags of these live wells are relatively high, which appears to be perfect for pro anglers because they have a lot of catch.

The only thing you should consider when looking for a new live well is its depth which should be enough for fish to stay upright.

Method 3: Store The Fish In A Basket

Best Way To Keep Fish Fresh After CatchingIf you want to travel light, try this method. It just requires you to bring a wire mesh basket that is huge enough to accommodate your catch.

Just take note that this way is recommended when the water is cold. The fact that warm water contains less amount of oxygen than cold, which causes your catch to be sluggish and inactive. The meat quality accordingly will be decreased.

About the basket, it should feature a rope to lower the basket into the water, and a self-closing latch to prevent the fish from escaping.

Best Way To Keep Fish Fresh After Catching

If you’re wondering about the drawback of this method, it is that the wire mesh might leave bruises in your animal.

Besides, remember not to soak them in the water for too long unless you want a mushy fillet in the end.

Method 4: Store The Fish In A Stringer

This way is similar to method 3 but you’ll have to insert through the fish gills and out the mouth to keep them in place before soaking them in cold water.

Because it might leave stress on your fish, only try this way for a short time.

Note: Using a stringer to keep your fish fresh isn’t suggested for:

  • Fishing from a pier because it attracts sharks or somebody might steal them
  • Surf fishing


Above are the three best ways to keep fish fresh after catching. No matter your choice, always remembers to check your fish regularly for indications of fighting, signs of stress, or melting ice, which helps them last a bit longer. Thanks for reading!

Bryan Listor
Bryan Listor

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