How many freshwater anglers would flip a lid if the government tried to take away our rights to bring home fish? I know that this Hooked Az writer would drop his pole and pick up a gun in heartbeat if I was told fishing for food would be illegal. Since this is the case and it is our unhindered American right to fish and to bring it home for mounting or eating why then do so many fisherman bring home sludge from the lake and try to feed it to our families? Who (of course) are repelled by the smell taste and the look of our fish.
Every season the following will be repeated over and over again to the chagrin of the anglers families. At exactly five am (and six am for the late bloomers), anglers by the hundreds will flock to the nearest bodies of water. They will then unload their bass boats, pontoons and canoes into the lakes. There they will spend the next five or six hours tossing trout, bass and catfish into live wells, baskets and stringers where they will drown or crush each other to death. By the time, the anglers have returned home instead of healthy fish they have fish that have rotted from the inside out for a minimum of two or more hours. The meat is bruised mud veins have been busted and the angler and their family are left with a slimy sludgy mess.
Then of course comes the cleaning of said mess. It is a long and painful process trying to scale, and fillet a soggy mess of ruined fish. Here are some tips that will help keep your catch as fresh and as tasty as the moment you pull it from the water.
1. Bring with you a ten to twenty pound cooler packed over halfway with ice.
2. The minute you have removed the hook from your fish slay it. Preferably with a small club or bat right above the eyes.
3. Add a gallon or two of water to ice to make a slurry slushy consistency
4. Gut your fish immediately
5. Stuff the stomach cavity with ice and bury the fish inside the slurry or slushy ice
These five simple steps will make your life a thousand times easier when you get home. They are used all over the world to keep fish fresh and more importantly tasty. It also makes it easier for you to finish cleaning when you get home.
The fish are not as slimy and this process makes filleting a breeze for the meat is not bruised and mashed but firm like a soft balsa wood.
Finally, the stink or lack thereof will be much appreciated by friends and family who are looking forward to your fish bake or fry. This is a much added bonus for there are many people in the United States that don’t eat fish at all due to bad experiences in the past. Bad smell is the equivalent of bad taste or so our brains tell us. So when you finally do pull out the frying pan the fish you have caught and properly preserved will retain a positive taste and smell rather than the putrid stink of bad fish.
Despite the very real problems that plague our Arizona Fisheries and urban programs here, we have dream fishing where catching fish is a regular occurrence instead of every once in awhile. To poorly treat our catch is an affront to this right and privilege that we have inherited from our forefathers.