How to Make the Fish you catch Taste Great

Let’s face it. There is nothing better than a fish fry. This is especially true if it contains fish that you caught. However, there may be times when they aren’t “tasty.”

So what’s the problem? The fish species, breading and cooking oil hasn’t changed. Most likely it’s ice or lack thereof. During warm days many anglers don’t properly ice their fish. In fact, some don’t even ice them at all. One hot June day I was launching my boat for an evening of perch fishing. As I readied my craft at the dock, two anglers tied up beside me. They proudly announced they had limited out on yellow perch.

They held up two 5-gallon buckets filled with jumbo yellow perch. However, the fish were turning bleach white. Apparently, they had sat in the sun all day in 80-degree heat without ice—what a waste of good fish.

Yes, an angler can keep live fish on a stringer when the water and air temperature is cool in spring and fall. And, a boat with a good livewell keeps fish alive. However, for bank anglers and boat fishermen without livewells, think ice, and lots of it.

I have been on charter boats where the captain throws in 10 pounds of ice cubes in the bottom of the cooler. At the end of the day, all six clients limited out. Most fish were from the ‘03 year-class. This means big walleyes, at 6 to 10 pounds. The fish in the bottom of the casket-sized ice chest were nice and cool, however, the top half weren’t. They were insulated from the ice by the thick layers of fish beneath them. Smart captains will add an extra bag of ice when the cooler is half-filled.

Now, ice jugs are a favorite for many. You can fill plastic, 1-gallon milk containers with water and freeze them. However, after the ice starts melting inside the jug, a layer of water forms between the ice and the plastic jug, reducing the cooling effect.