How Long After Catching a Fish Should You Clean It?

Last modified on July 29th, 2020 at 10:51 am

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Is it just me, or eating fish you caught yourself is just way more satisfying? You spent hours sitting in the boat, waiting for it to take the bait. Some days, you get nothing. But on good days and you get quite a good catch, it’s pretty fulfilling. 

Now, we can all agree that nothing beats the quality of a freshly caught fish. But the hard work doesn’t end after catching the fish. There’s still a whole process of cleaning it, storing it, and making sure they stay fresh until you’re ready to cook them. 

How you will handle the fish will significantly affect its quality and taste. Fish is highly perishable. And if not handled well, it can also cause different illnesses. So, it’s important to learn about what to do with your catch after you take them out of the bait. The real question is, when do you clean it and how? Some anglers say you should gut the fish right after you caught them. While some anglers say that it should be good for up to 48 hours without being gutted.

What you’ll need:

  • Pliers
  • Chopping Board
  • Fillet knife
  • Whetstone or honing steel
  • A cooler or bucket full of ice
  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Resealable storage bag
  • Paper towels

According to multiple kinds of research, the best way of handling the fish is to kill it right away after you caught it. 

cleaning fish with running water

Take it off the bait. Use your clean pliers to take the fish off the hook. Then use a sharp spiky metal to quickly pierce the brain of the fish. The brain is usually located above the eye of the fish. Keep the spike in until it stops moving. This is called the Iki jime method which is believed to be the most humane way of killing any catch.

Bleed it out. Put on your disposable gloves to lessen the chances of contamination. Use a sharp fillet knife, cut its throat, and take out the gills. Then let it bleed out in clean water. Change the water as many times as necessary to keep it clean. Remember to clean the knife and your hands after every fish to avoid contamination.

Clean the fish. After it’s completely bled out, rinse it well and pat down with a paper towel. Then that’s when you put it in a resealable storage bag individually. 

Keep the fish in slush ice. Transfer to the cooler and cover it with ice with just a little water to sink the fish. Make sure your cooler is not hit with direct sunlight that can make the ice melt faster. 

Now, you should make sure that your catch remains in iced water until you’re ready to clean it completely. It is important that you have access to clean, running water before you start dressing your fish. This is to ensure that you will be able to clean off digestive enzymes and prevent other bacteria from spreading.  Keep all these in mind and I guarantee you’ll have homemade fresh-tasting fish fillets! Happy fishing! 😊 

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