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Thread: Do all charters ice the fish on the boat?

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    Default Do all charters ice the fish on the boat?

    I have three charters scheduled for next august on the Kenai. Can I assume that all of the captains ice our fish on board? I have some of the top guides lined up. I know icing is paramount to quality of any fishing expedition. Let me know of any experience that you may have had. We will be on 6pk boats. Thanks... RD in KS

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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    It's been my experience that few charters ice halibut, but almost all of them will bleed them. Most charter guys I know that target salmon will keep ice. I have yet to see a charter that gills guts and belly ices silvers.
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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I've never been on a saltwater charter that ices fish, most just bop them and throw them in the hold to flop around.
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  4. #4

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    Only ones I know doing it are multi-day charters. With general AK air and water temps, quality is not an issue on day trips if you protect them from the sun and drying. Air temp usually isn't all that far off from water temp. We're really picky about quality, and on our own boat we bonk and bleed fish (all fish, not just halibut) and put them right into the fish hold. Never a problem.

  5. #5

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    We always bleed. Most of the time we gut/gill kings and cohos but we are crazy busy, sometimes we don't. Gutting gets that last bit of blood out and salmon guts are some of the best halibut bait. All salmon goes right in a large Yeti cooler, that is full of ice. They are slushed. The ice water is so cold at the end of the day that it'll hurt your hands. In my opinion, it is of utmost importance to ice your salmon, or the meat gets soft. Halibut are the last thing we do for the day. They basically go in the box after being bled, and in 2-3 hours they are getting fillet'd back at the dock. If one is landed early in the day, it goes in slush.

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    I have never heard of a kenai guide that ices their catch. Ask your guide and report back. Which top guides are you fishing with?
    Also, are you asking about the salt water trips around the kenai peninsula or the kenai river itself? My comments were about goddess in the river, but this is in the salt water forum although you referenced the "kenai".

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    I just got back from the kenai fishing for silvers in september. There was no ice on board. But we limited in 5 hrs. Fish turned out great.

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    Default Thanks for the info.

    Guess I will go with the flow. We will be targeting Halibut but will most likely get into some silvers. thanks again... Will be fishing with Steve Z. in Seward and Josh in Homer.

  9. #9

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    Well, I agree you're gonna be fishing with top guides. have a great trip, and trust they'll care for your fish.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by soon2beinAK View Post
    But we limited in 5 hrs. Fish turned out great.
    That's an important distinction. Most of our trips are 4 hours or less, and seldom more than 6. If we planned to be out 8-12 hours on a trip, no doubt I'd be icing or chilling somehow.

    Too much science to explain, but processors are really careful about rigor mortis and how it affects fish quality when freezing. Fish are best frozen "pre-rigor" or "post-rigor," i.e., before or after they go into rigor mortis. Fish frozen in rigor tend to loose a whole lot of moisture on thawing, usually becoming tough or rubbery in the process. Freezing rate also plays a roll. Worst that can happen to a rigor fish is slow freezing, as happens in most home freezers, especially when a big load is laid in or the fish is layered in rather than spread out. It really accents the issues with rigor-freezing.

    If you've swallowed all that, there's still more. The rate that fish go into , through, and out of rigor is affected by temperature. It's slowed by colder temps and accelerated by warmer temps. Salmon chilled quickly can take over 24 hours to go through rigor, but I can't remember the # right now. Processing companies are getting a lot of RSW (refrigerated) or CSW (slush) salmon now, with salmon being delivered by tenders and even small boats with either slush or RSW, and they have to delay processing until the fish finish going through rigor.

    Since we're not freezing at sea, we aren't able to fillet our salmon and get them in a super freezer before they go into rigor. If we get home and they're in rigor, we wait a bit until they pass through rigor. If that's not possible, we'll fillet them in rigor and vacuum seal, then delay freezing until they finish with the rigor.

    One more point and I'll shuddup.

    Watch out for the needlefish, especially with silvers and humpies. Needlefish is a "hot" food that really turns on the digestive juices in salmon, with capelin not far behind. Let the fish go too long with guts full of needlefish, and you're in nasty trouble. The digestive juices keep working after the fish is dead, eating right through the stomach wall and into the belly flaps. The process is accelerated if the fish gets warm. Smells like hell and tastes worse, with belly flaps turning a yellowish brown and going soft. In pretty short order you'll even see the ribs pulling free from the belly flaps. How fast does it happen? I've seen pinks at warmish air temps go bad in as little as 2 hours. Fastest I've seen it happen with silvers is 4 hours. Haven't seen it with kings, but we've never risked it. That's slowed a lot with quick chilling.

    We bonk the heads and pop a gill in all our salmon to let them bleed out for half an hour, then gut when needlefish are on their menu.

    Okay, shuddup time.

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    Charterboat Operator Abel's Avatar
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    I ice everything from Mar-Nov, as long as it fits in the ice box, no way would I not keep them on ice. All my fish, gills get popped, they go into the live baitwell with the pumps running, once the water runs clean they come out of there and get iced down. In the colder months, it depends on teh air and water temps on if I have ice or not.
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    Member tlingitwarrior's Avatar
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    Ice bath for all fish regardless of season. Rip a gill as soon as they hit the deck, salmon, bottom fish all get same treatment. Given the $$ I spend chasing them I am quite anal about both of these treatments.
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    Member AKCAPT's Avatar
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    Most charters do not ice fish every day. We do keep ice in our fish hold from June - August. May and September we do not. There is simply not ice available then.
    Just a little ice, a bag or two makes a huge difference in quality. It also speeds the filleting because the meat is firmer.

    But it takes time and money.

    I can't imagine a Kenai guide bringing ice for fish every day.

  14. #14

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    More important to bleed immediately & keep out of sun. After hundreds of sockeye on the river, dozens of kings/halibut in the salt, rarely if ever carry ice as it's just not feasible sometimes. Like others have said, a daytrip isn't so much a concern as multi day trips. I pop a gill and also plunge a knife to be sure. Often throw cold water over em.
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    Fished the coast from south America along the west coast up through southeast, soutch central, chain to the beringand up through Bristol and standard practice has always been a bonk, gill, and toss into a burlap sack for those that fit and periodically spray them down to keep the sacks wet for under 2 day trips. 2 day to 3 week trips was always iced in the hold.

    The biggest concern for any game is once dead, the bacteria in the stomach makes its way out and if not kept cool will promote bacteria growth as this is also where the most heat is stored. Game with higher omega 3 such as deer and salmon can "spoil" faster which is why its suggested you remove deer fat for aging when skinned due to oxidation of fat and air and the same goes for fish so they twnd to be less forgiving to heat.

    Ask away, I can write novels on the science behind it all, lol. In short, dont worry about it.

    Fun fact: Fish much like mammals will taste less fresh when eaten immediately after caught compared to after it goes through rigor. The fresh is best mentality does not always ring true.

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    Member Rod in Wasilla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by misanthrope View Post
    Fun fact: Fish much like mammals will taste less fresh when eaten immediately after caught compared to after it goes through rigor. The fresh is best mentality does not always ring true.
    Fun or not, that's your opinion, not a fact. I happen to have a different opinion: I think it's it's pretty darn hard to beat the taste of a fillet that doesn't quite stop moving between the time it leaves the salt, to the time it hits the grill.
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    Member muskeg's Avatar
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    All the guides with the charter outfit I work for out of Ketchikan load up ice in the fish holds before every trip. And since we run cruise ship clients they are short charters. That goes for both the open skiffs and hard top boats. We do lunch; Halibut / bottom fish; Salmon / bottom fish & Crabbing / fishing charters.

    After the photo session I bleed all fish and in the hold with ice. Sometimes when I am busy I put them in the hold (ice) then cut em ASAP.

    This even goes for the shore lunch trips were we just fish a few hours and catch fish to be filleted and served up fresh at our remote beach camp.

    If the cruise ship clients want to ship as soon as we hit the dock (after the photo session) we put them in a small tote, ice em down again and run em over to the cutters.

  18. #18

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    It took me a lot of years and a lot of salmon to understand the importance of rigormortis. The worst thing I used to do was fillet a salmon before it went into rigor, and then not flash freeze or cook it before it shrank up. Really degrades the flavor and texture in my experience if the fish goes into rigor after it has been filleted. I head and gut, put on ice any more. It goes against what we are taught, but a much better product.

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