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Thread: How long can I keep fish on ice on an extended trip

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    Default How long can I keep fish on ice on an extended trip

    My wife and I will have a boat for 17 days this summer and I'm struggling on how I can process and hold fish during the trip. We'll be working our way down from Juneau and fishing Noyes/Baker for about a week before returning the boat to Ketchikan. There could be up to 12 days we would need to hold fish before getting them back to the home freezer.

    On past 10 day trips we have typically started fishing about half way into the trip, processed and vacuum packed fish daily, and kept them on ice for up to 5 days in a large cooler until returning to port. From there we would have them in the freezer within 24 hours. This has worked fine in past but I always felt like 4 to 5 days on ice was as long as I should go. Does anyone have successful experience with longer times on ice?

    I've thought about opportunities to freeze fish in places like Craig, but once frozen we would not be able to keep it that way until getting it home. It seems like freezing and thawing would be worse than keeping it on ice the whole time. Any tips you may have would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    Jeff

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    One limiting factor will be having more than a limit in possession. When I fish out of Valdez for extended trips I take them to EZ Freeze and have them freeze and store them for me so I don't have more than a limit on board at any time. Halibut fall under federal rules and if filleted must be in 4 fillets with 2 cheeks per fish. I pick mine up on the way home, I pack them into a YETI cooler all frozen fish with no ice and they will stay frozen for days.

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    I was under the impression that processed included being frozen not just packaged on ice.

    Sweepint
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    I'm going to say 4-5 days is the maximum to keep fresh fish on ice. Even 5 days is definitely pushing it; quality will start to diminish by that point. Anything over 5 days is impractical and will spoil. I would try and find some way to freeze your fish. Is your boat large enough to bring a generator and small freezer? Not very practical, but just an idea. You could always bring a bunch of salt and salt down your fish for pickling later; if you like pickled fish! Salting is about the only way to preserve salmon long term without freezing it. I would just suggest catching a small amount to eat on your trip, and then do the bulk of your fish harvesting on the last few days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweepint View Post
    I was under the impression that processed included being frozen not just packaged on ice.
    Correct. The OP didn't ask that question directly, but the implication seems to be there. The definition of what constitutes "processed" is clearly defined in the regs/laws, and unless the fish is "processed" it counts toward your daily limit/total fish in "possession". Unfrozen fish or fish parts on ice on your boat, do NOT qualify as "processed"; they count as fish "in possession".

    That said, I agree that about 5 days is the probably the outside limit, provided the fish is kept CLEAN and DRY, and very cold.
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    I wasn't trying to point a finger, I was inquiring for clarification on that. I have run into the same problem myself and I go out for 5 days or more at a time. I have looked into a small freezer and I already have a chamber sealer but it really is not cost affective for the freezer on the boat. I give most of my fish to friends and neighbors just because I love to fish and can't possibly eat it all and there is always someone that needs or wants some fish. Halibut does not seem to last as well as salmon does for some reason regardless of ice. I have processed them or left them whole and packed in ice but they seem to start turning white pretty fast after the 3rd day.

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    Halibut possession rules are not the same as state rules.... Just a FYI, because I did not realize the rule was different for halibut myself.

    28. Sport Fishing for Halibut - Areas 2C, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E

    (1) In waters in and off Alaska:
    (a) The sport fishing season is from February 1 to December 31;
    (b) The daily bag limit is two halibut of any size per day per person unless a more restrictive bag limit applies in Federal regulations at 50 CFR 300.65; and
    (c) No person may possess more than two daily bag limits.

    DOES NOT MATTER IF THEY ARE FROZE OR NOT.

    The feds were writing tickets for this last year.


    entire link here...

    http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sust...regsummary.htm
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    If you are willing to put in the effort you can freeze your fish, and keep them frozen, using lots of ice and salt. Google "freezing brine". The right mix can get you down to -6 degrees F. If you decide to do this you really need to commit; having the fish freeze and thaw several times during the trip will turn it to mush.

    Ditto what the guys said about halibut possession regs - other than a few pounds for "immediate consumption" you can only have 2 limits per person and each fish must not be broken down further than 4 fillets and 2 cheeks. It is against Federal law for any boat with fishing tackle on it to have halibut on board that is cut up in smaller pieces, period. No exceptions for fish processed in any way.

    Big_E

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    Thanks for the replies. We have never had an issue with limits. Two licenses of salmon, halibut and bottom fish limits has always been more than enough for us to bring home. In fact, I don't think we have ever brought our limit of halibut back. We usually have a couple 50 lb to 100 lb fish in the mix, so 4-6 fish between the two of us has always been enough.

    And thanks for the lesson on the rules. I was completely unaware that halibut could not be cut up into smaller pieces. That complicates things even further when we get a few fish of decent size. I'll have to look into a freezing brine during our travel days back to Ketchikan; and then renting some freezer space in the stops along the way. After leaving Craig we plan to stop at Point Baker, Coffman Cove and Thorne Bay. I believe there are lodges in each of these locations, so hopefully they will have some freezer space available for a day. I'd hate to think of our time at Noyes and Baker being catch and release because we had no way to get the fish back!

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    When the wife and I are out for extended trips we purchase and carry a couple of coolers filled with shaved ice. I am not sure when the regulations changed pertaining to cutting fillets into smaller pieces, so we will have to adjust our process accordingly. We apply this process to preserving our shrimp catch. Package your fish/shrimp into container(s), layer container 1 deep in bottom of cooler, add shaved ice to a depth of 1-2 inches, depending on available room, shake a generous portion of rock salt onto the ice. Add additional layers of fish/shrimp with corresponding layers of shaved ice and rock salt. We typically freeze 1 quart Ziploc containers solid within 24 hours. Just our way of getting our moneys worth of time out in the sound.
    "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away."

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    It is my understanding that once fish are processed - like canned or frozen, they are not considered in possession anymore. Is this wrong?

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    Correct, except for halibut.
    BK

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    So this basically means that the freezer full of halibut that many of us have in our garage (or some place else) is illegal to have as all one can have is 4 halibut in possession. Is that true? Or does this only matter on the water in a vessel?

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    Quote Originally Posted by T.R. Bauer View Post
    So this basically means that the freezer full of halibut that many of us have in our garage (or some place else) is illegal to have as all one can have is 4 halibut in possession. Is that true? Or does this only matter on the water in a vessel?
    The regs are specific to halibut on your vessel. There was a link to the regs summary pages posted earlier. Within that there is a PDF link to the NOAA halibut regs.
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    Only on the water on the boat.
    BK

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    I read the reg. The part that is bugging me is "possession". Here's why:

    State Reg Language.jpg

    I'm not really here to argue, but to clarify. Isn't the legal language between regulators and the enforcement officers "common"? If so, according to the State doc that I posted, page 5 of the Sportfishing Regs, "possession" means fish that are not processed - meaning frozen or canned. Someone mentioned in the thread salt and coolers, but don't as that is clearly not ok.

    The last I heard and have been told by enforcement officers is freezing fish or canning fish removes these fish from "possession". I looked very hard to see what "possession" means under NOAA and found nothing. Does anyone have that definition? I will be calling them for clarification if isn't posted as we freeze fish all the time as otherwise they are counted as the the daily catch. If nobody knows, I will let you know what I find as lots of people process halibut on their boats when on multiple day trips.

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    I want to know what the definition is of "possession" according to NOAA. Anyone know where it is in writing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by T.R. Bauer View Post
    I want to know what the definition is of "possession" according to NOAA. Anyone know where it is in writing?
    I posted that already, it is covered in the link above...

    28. Sport Fishing for Halibut - Areas 2C, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E
    (1) In waters in and off Alaska:
    o (a) The sport fishing season is from February 1 to December 31;
    o (b) The daily bag limit is two halibut of any size per day per person unless a more restrictive bag limit applies in Federal regulations at 50 CFR 300.65; and
    o (c) No person may possess more than two daily bag limits.
    (2) Pertains to charter anglers only.
    o (3) In Convention waters in and off Alaska, no person shall possess on board a vessel, including charter vessels and pleasure craft used for fishing, halibut that has been filleted, mutilated, or otherwise disfigured in any manner, except that:
    (a) Each halibut may be cut into no more than 2 ventral pieces, 2 dorsal pieces, and 2 cheek pieces, with skin on all pieces; and
    (b) Halibut in excess of the possession limit in paragraph (1)(c) of this section may be possessed on a vessel that does not contain sport fishing gear, fishing rods, hand lines, or gaffs.




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    paragraphs (3)b and (1)c above!!
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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by t.r. Bauer View Post
    i want to know what the definition is of "possession" according to noaa. Anyone know where it is in writing?
    50 cfr 10.12
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.R. Bauer View Post
    I read the reg. The part that is bugging me is "possession". Here's why:

    State Reg Language.jpg

    I'm not really here to argue, but to clarify. Isn't the legal language between regulators and the enforcement officers "common"? If so, according to the State doc that I posted, page 5 of the Sportfishing Regs, "possession" means fish that are not processed - meaning frozen or canned. Someone mentioned in the thread salt and coolers, but don't as that is clearly not ok.

    The last I heard and have been told by enforcement officers is freezing fish or canning fish removes these fish from "possession". I looked very hard to see what "possession" means under NOAA and found nothing. Does anyone have that definition? I will be calling them for clarification if isn't posted as we freeze fish all the time as otherwise they are counted as the the daily catch. If nobody knows, I will let you know what I find as lots of people process halibut on their boats when on multiple day trips.
    Unfortunately, the language used by the state and federal regulators isn't completely common. The state considers fish to be no longer in possession if they have been processed in a way that enables 15 or more days of storage (Full definition in the file you attached). NOAA's definition of possession in 50 cfr 10.2 makes no allowance for processing. For recreational fishermen in AK, the stricter NOAA definition applies to halibut only. The people you refer to that are processing halibut so they can bring home more than 2 limits per person are breaking the law.

    Other than halibut, fish that are packaged and kept frozen in a cooler using salt and ice qualify as "no longer in possession" by state regs.

    Big_E

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