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Thread: John Rowley article on fish care / Field Freezing

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default John Rowley article on fish care / Field Freezing

    A discussion is occurring in our reports thread, and it's of broad enough interest that I thought I'd move it into it's own thread. One poster referenced an article posted here on the site that relates to this. It has to do with what we can do in the first three hours after the fish comes out of the water. Written by former Southeast Alaska salmon trolled John Rowley, the article claims to offer a method that delivers vastly superior table fare than conventional methods. I contacted John and obtained his permission to republish it on our site.

    Heres the link

    Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Thanks Mike.

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    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    Back in the day, when I sport-fished for Albacore Tuna off the coast of WA & OR, most of the boats (25-40 footers) had two big trash cans lashed to the transom. One can for bleeding and one can for chilling the fish. When a fish came aboard, it was bonked or ice-picked between the eyes, an artery was stabbed behind the gill, then it was placed headfirst into the bleeding can. After it had bled-out, it was transferred into the chilling can, which contained a slurry of ice & (salty) seawater. This slurry would get so cold that the eyeballs of the tuna would freeze solid, and your hands would go numb pretty quickly, if you stuck them in there for very long. After the fish came out of the chilling can, they were packed in ice while still whole, either in coolers or fish-boxes under the deck. Back in port at the end of the day, we had to wear rubber gloves while "carking" (filleting) the fish, they were THAT cold. But, the result was sashimi grade meat!

    Most dipnetting boats aren't large enough to carry all those big cans and hundreds of pounds of ice. Some shore based dippers might be able to set up something similar around their truck/camper. But, you can always try something smaller & simpler, rather than just toss them all over the bottom of your boat.

    The other day I saw a big insulated bucket from Yeti, called the Tank: http://yeti.com/tank
    It's kinda expensive and marketed for keg parties, but being insulated, it would hold a cold slurry for longer than a trash can, and therefore reduce the amount of ice required to chill your fish. Ice costs money, so, maybe it would be worth it? Great tasting fish fillets are almost priceless!

    Good Luck, Dave.
    "Luckily, enforcement reads these forums, and likely will peruse this one...Especially after a link of it is forwarded to them....." - AlaskaHippie.

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    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Thank you, Mike. I will have to try that out! I never give rigor any thought. Guess I better start!

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    This year I used a plastic tub I purchased at Home Depot for about 12 bucks. It's the kind you mix cement in, and it doesn't weigh much at all. I'd bet that if you nested one of those inside the other, with some styrofoam between them, it might hold that cold temperature long enough until you could get them into a cooler in the vehicle. My plan was to bonk and bleed the fish, rinse them of sand in the river, then toss them in the tub to keep them straight and clean. Worked fine until a "helper" started tossing sandy fish in there. I did dump a bunch of ice in the tub and it held for 2-3 hours, but I didn't use salt.

    I wonder if the flake ice you can get at the processors has salt in it? It's really good ice.

    Anyway I put a white game bag over the tub and set the whole thing under the fillet table for shade. Seemed to work okay. Definitely room for improvement. And the tub will only hold ten fish or so. It's a concept that could be refined. Dipnetters, especially the shore-based ones, are in the perfect situation for experimenting with this kind of thing.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    ...... Worked fine until a "helper" started tossing sandy fish in there....

    -Mike
    That "helper" wasn't an 8yo blond haired boy in green waders and a blue rain jacket I hope.

  7. #7

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    I don't think the flake ice has salt in it - it just compacts denser than cube ice thus lasts way longer. I let them bleed out right in the slush ice. I don't have to clip fins, so we don't even bonk them. Rip a gill and into the slush cooler they go. They bleed out real good cause they are still breathing or at least trying. They get cold quick. I typically put a scoop or two of ice in my tote or cooler and a handful of solar water softener salt then fresh water, or skip the salt and just use seawater. As I said on the other thread, the only downfall is the cooler gets heavy. The fish are primo. While they are obviously better gutted, they can stay in that brine for several days before processing if need be. I don't have the patience but would love to try letting them chill through rigor before processing just to see if they really are better.

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    Member TR's Avatar
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    Thanks Mike, good stuff. I am beach dipper. In the past I've always just ripped a gill and threw them in a cooler with no ice. I'm going to use ice on my next excursion. Like willphish said, never thought much about rigor either.
    -Tim

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