Do all charters ice the fish on the boat?



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  • 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

  • #2
    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.
    Alaska Board of Game 2015 tour... "Kicking the can down the road"


    • #3
      I've never been on a saltwater charter that ices fish, most just bop them and throw them in the hold to flop around.
      Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

      If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.


      • #4
        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.
        "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
        Merle Haggard


        • #5
          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.
          Alaska Wide Open Charters



          • #6
            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".


            • #7
              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.


              • #8
                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
                  Well, I agree you're gonna be fishing with top guides. have a great trip, and trust they'll care for your fish.


                  • #10
                    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.
                    "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
                    Merle Haggard


                    • #11
                      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.
                      Life's too short for an ugly boat

                      Blaze N Abel Charters
                      Kodiak, AK


                      • #12
                        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.
                        In 1492 Native Americans discovered Columbus lost at sea

                        If I come across as an arrogant, know-it-all jerk, it's because I am


                        • #13
                          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
                            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.
                            Check out Quickwater Adventure water taxi/transport services:


                            • #15
                              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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