jjdbike

Keeping fillets fresh on multi-day summer trip?

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Hey Folks,

We have several multi-day partyboat trips scheduled this summer. This past year I expereinced the benifit of bleeding fish in a bucket of seawater, then moving to a cooler w/ a salt ice slurry.

On these trips we'll shove off Thurday evening and steam upto Nantucket, fish ALL DAY Friday, ALL DAY Sat, get back to dock Sun morning. 

We'll fish for fluke till we get our NJ boat limit, then jigging for haddock, cod & pollack. 

We have two 120qt coolers and one 100 qt, though that's a lot of coolers to take. We can fill all of them w/ ice.

I'm thinking we can use the 120 filled w/ salt slurry, add ice as needed throughout the day. At the end of the day, fillet the fish and burry in ice in clean cooler. Dump the dierty fish cooler, rinse well and refill w/ ice from second 120 qt cooler the next morning & fill w/ salt water. Start over again. Use the ice from the 100 qt to top off as the ice in the 120 melts off. 

 

Does that sound right?

Any other suggestions?

 

Thanks in advance!

JD

 

 

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I saw a guy on an overnight partyboat trip bring a foodsaver vacuum sealer onboard with him. He left his fillets in ice and saltwater all day, and at the end of the day he plugged it in inside the cabin and packed his fillets in bags and put them in a clean cooler with ice. He had a travel pack of Lysol wipes with him to wipe down the table and his machine when he was finished. Seems a little inconvenient, but overall I think it was a pretty good idea.

 

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20 mins ago, Ditchbag said:

You could get about 40 bucks worth of dry ice and put in one cooler and freeze your fillets as you get them

Yup, there are some Yeti style coolers on the market right now that don't cost an arm and a leg so one could be used for a main with dry ice.

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You don’t want dry ice anywhere near fish, just a bad idea.

 

The high performance coolers these days will keep Ice for that entire trip easily. Use one for just clean ice storage and the other for fish - have the fish cooler like 3/4 full of ice to start the trip and the clean ice cooler packed with ice with a couple of large blocks of ice. Move ice from the clean ice cooler to the fish cooler as need be, opening it as few times as possible.  

 

Make sure your coolers are cooled down somewhat before ice goes in (i.e not sitting in your 100 degree garage in July)   This setup should be good for 4-5 days, maybe more. It is for me when I do runs to the Bahamas.  RTIC coolers are good, cheap and frequently on sale.

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2 hours ago, Cpalms said:

You don’t want dry ice anywhere near fish, just a bad idea.

 

I've never used dry ice on the boat, just massive amounts of regular ice (usually purchased flaked), but I'm curious - why do you not want dry ice?  Safety issue, or something to do keeping the fish?

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5 hours ago, The Fishing Nerd said:

I've never used dry ice on the boat, just massive amounts of regular ice (usually purchased flaked), but I'm curious - why do you not want dry ice?  Safety issue, or something to do keeping the fish?

You can use it, it’s just not ideal or practical. Dry ice fumes are dangerous in closed spaces - like coolers.  If you were shipping frozen fish, dry ice is good but not when u are opening and Closing a cooler a million times. It will be a pain. Not to mention whatever touches dry ice freezes - like a fish or your hand. And if water that hits the dry  ice you get fog. On the bright side the fog might be a hit come cocktail hour.

 

But generally speaking, why bother when normal ice and a decent cooler will work just fine? 

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1 hour ago, Cpalms said:

You can use it, it’s just not ideal or practical. Dry ice fumes are dangerous in closed spaces - like coolers.  If you were shipping frozen fish, dry ice is good but not when u are opening and Closing a cooler a million times. It will be a pain. Not to mention whatever touches dry ice freezes - like a fish or your hand. And if water that hits the dry  ice you get fog. On the bright side the fog might be a hit come cocktail hour.

 

But generally speaking, why bother when normal ice and a decent cooler will work just fine? 

Take a pair of snowmachining gloves along to handle the dry ice ,as long as you dont spend alot of time with your head in the cooler and the lid shut on your head the co2 wont harm you. It shouldnt take quite a million times to put fillets in the cooler daily.fresh frozen fillets vs 3 day old frozen .I work with dry ice  all the time shrinking bronze bearings into bores .Do put a lock or ratchet strap on your dry ice cooler, just to keep somthing stupid from happening.

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15 hours ago, Matt7082 said:

I saw a guy on an overnight partyboat trip bring a foodsaver vacuum sealer onboard with him. He left his fillets in ice and saltwater all day, and at the end of the day he plugged it in inside the cabin and packed his fillets in bags and put them in a clean cooler with ice. He had a travel pack of Lysol wipes with him to wipe down the table and his machine when he was finished. Seems a little inconvenient, but overall I think it was a pretty good idea.

 

Thanks,

It probably is great way to care for fillets. After a LONG day of fishing, I'm really looking forward to a nice meal, a beer and rest. Especially when I'm at another LONG day of fshing agan tomorrow. Plus, I'm sure the capt and crew would not want me doing that inside the cabin during the summer. Table and seting space is at a premium and there always seems to be one or three people who are sea sick & wouldn't apperciate smelling fish inside during the summer.

14 hours ago, Stonesipher said:

Yup, there are some Yeti style coolers on the market right now that don't cost an arm and a leg so one could be used for a main with dry ice.

Thanks,

Yes I see the RTIC's are nice & cheaper then Yetti.

10 hours ago, Cpalms said:

You don’t want dry ice anywhere near fish, just a bad idea.

 

The high performance coolers these days will keep Ice for that entire trip easily. Use one for just clean ice storage and the other for fish - have the fish cooler like 3/4 full of ice to start the trip and the clean ice cooler packed with ice with a couple of large blocks of ice. Move ice from the clean ice cooler to the fish cooler as need be, opening it as few times as possible.  

 

Make sure your coolers are cooled down somewhat before ice goes in (i.e not sitting in your 100 degree garage in July)   This setup should be good for 4-5 days, maybe more. It is for me when I do runs to the Bahamas.  RTIC coolers are good, cheap and frequently on sale.

Thanks Cpalms,

I have two Igloo coolers I regularly use for fishing.

I have a 100 qt Igloo marine cooler. This one gets a lot of abuse & is on it's way out (i.e. sucuming to the abuse). I use this on the front of my beach buggy in the cooler / rod rack while surf fishing. I also use this on the dack of party boats. It gets opend and shut all day (which would seem to negate the additional insulation of the high end) It gets dragged to the back to get cleaned. I don't know if I'd want to subject a high end cooler to this, but they seem to be built bullet proof.

I also have a 12o qt Igloo Super Tough. This gets taken topside to store ice & food. It's in perfect condition. What I have to decide is, is it worth spanding close to $400 for an additional 25 qts of storage and significantly better insulation, when my 120qt is in perfect condition.

One down side of the high end is, that 145 qt cooler filled w/ ice weighs a ton. Getting that top side, up the ladder? I'm no spring chicken, I have a bad back & my fishing partner is older than me. Do I ask the deck hands to do this every time?

Soooo, do I spend nearly $400 for a new heavy high end 145qt for ice topside? Or just use my 120 Igloo precooled w/ a couple blocks of ice and packed to the top w/ ice to refill the beat up 100 qt?

Thans again.

JD

 

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Where and when does it stop?  Do we really need $400 coolers?  What would a boat worthy freezer cost?  Keep the igloo, maybe get another to keep just ice and call it a day.

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2 hours ago, Mono said:

Where and when does it stop?  Do we really need $400 coolers?  What would a boat worthy freezer cost?  Keep the igloo, maybe get another to keep just ice and call it a day.

You don't "need" the expensive cooler.

 

You don't "need" the high end reels, the super sensitive braid lines, the costly painted jigs, the invisible fluoro, and 99% of the stuff we buy and carry around on a routine basis.

 

Some of it makes your life easier, though - and it's worth the investment.  For the OP - if he does these trips regularly or has a boat, and other uses for the large high end cooler, it's a worthwhile investment.  The RTIC I have on my boat will probably be around a lot longer than I will.  It keeps ice on a hot deck like it was sitting in my fridge.  It was expensive, and it's a heavy PITA to lug around and clean at the end of a trip, but I'm never left wondering if I'm going to run out of ice or my fish is going to go bad.

 

If the OP's existing Igloo was in good shape, I'd say just roll with that.  But the cooler is on its way out, then it's probably not a bad idea to invest in one of the RTICs or similar (there are cheaper models available from Costco and Walmart that aren't quite as good but make a good compromise on cost).

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“Dead fish don’t swim” 

the best way to keep fish fresh like your looking to do is WHOLE gutted with the scales on and filet as needed.. rigor will give you a decent amount of time before decomposition begins ..Also never Leave fish/filets in water/salt slurry unless your looking to cure it :) ...best would be whole gutted scales on in ice that isn’t watery at all...second best would be whole gutted scales on in a tied plastic bag covered in ice and if the ice gets watery your covered  ...third would be filets sealed in a bag and covered in ice but this way will go south the quickest and won’t last till you get home and decide to eat it a few days later ...

 

All the best sir...

 

 

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3 mins ago, charles s said:

“Dead fish don’t swim” 

the best way to keep fish fresh like your looking to do is WHOLE gutted with the scales on and filet as needed.. rigor will give you a decent amount of time before decomposition begins ..Also never Leave fish/filets in water/salt slurry unless your looking to cure it :) ...best would be whole gutted scales on in ice that isn’t watery at all...second best would be whole gutted scales on in a tied plastic bag covered in ice and if the ice gets watery your covered  ...third would be filets sealed in a bag and covered in ice but this way will go south the quickest and won’t last till you get home and decide to eat it a few days later ...

 

All the best sir...

 

 

This is generally what I do, but I don't stay out for days on end, it's just my process.  I buy extra large ziploc bags (jumbo/xl sizes), which are also heavier duty, and keep the fish submerged in ice in the bags, with the top sticking out so I can add more as needed.  More than anything else, I do this for cleanup.  At the end of the day, I can empty the ice and quickly rinse out the cooler without it looking like a crime scene (and having fish blood and guts all over my driveway).  When I have multiple days of fishing in my forecast it's easier as the ice stays cleaner and I just extract the fish I caught for the day in the bag and get a new bag for the next day.  The large backs don't cost more than a buck or two a piece anyway.

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3 hours ago, charles s said:

“Dead fish don’t swim” 

the best way to keep fish fresh like your looking to do is WHOLE gutted with the scales on and filet as needed.. rigor will give you a decent amount of time before decomposition begins ..Also never Leave fish/filets in water/salt slurry unless your looking to cure it :) ...best would be whole gutted scales on in ice that isn’t watery at all...second best would be whole gutted scales on in a tied plastic bag covered in ice and if the ice gets watery your covered  ...third would be filets sealed in a bag and covered in ice but this way will go south the quickest and won’t last till you get home and decide to eat it a few days later ...

 

All the best sir...

 

 

Thanks for your reply.

As for the slurry, I have the deck cooler 2/3rds filled w/ ice. Then fill w/ seawater. The salt water will make the ice water sIurry colder.

I bleed the fish out live in a bucket of sea water.

Then submerge the whole, bled-out fish in the iced brine slurry. I keep them in this for the day while fishing, adding ice as needed.

Charles S, are you saying this is not a good idea?

At the end of the day, the bled, whole fish that have been submerged in ice / seawater slurry get filleted and bagged. The bagged fillets get burried in a cooler w/ fresh clean ice topside. The fillets get vacum packed and frozen two days latter. 

Does this sound okay?

I may pick up a higher end cooler or two if I find great deals.

Thanks!

JD

 

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6 hours ago, jjdbike said:

Thanks,

Yes I see the RTIC's are nice & cheaper then Yetti.

It just so happens that they have a sale going on right now. I got an e mail because I bought one around Christmas. The 65 qt is only $209 right now. It was less during Christmas but the season will be over if you wait. :laugh:

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