Ever had fish that didn’t taste quite right? They may have been fishy, or just tasted off? This could be a result from poor handling of the fish between catch and preparation.
As the water warms, it becomes more challenging to keep fish alive in a livewell. In fact, it becomes more of a “deathwell” this time of year. If fish die in your livewell and get too warm, the flesh softens and the meat begins to spoil.
Many times I’ve seen folks enter a cleaning shack with a bucket of dead, stiff, colorless panfish. They’ve allowed these fish to get warm for too long, and they're starting to spoil.
Make the most of your catch by keeping those fish cool. If you plan on fishing for more than a couple hours, throw your fish on ice in your livewell, or in a cooler, rather than tossing them in the 80-degree water your aerator pump is pulling off the lake surface.
If you are planning to release fish, do so immediately to prevent harming them. This is even more important during the warm days of summer when hooking mortality peaks. Whether you are releasing a fish because of slot limits, or just practicing ethical catch and release, you want that fish to swim away healthy. Check out my previous blog “Proper handling for fish catch and release” to see more tips on properly handling fish you intend to release.
Before you leave the lake, pull the plug in your livewell – even if it is just ice water. And when you reach your destination, care for your catch promptly to ensure the best tablefare.
Good luck fishing, and stay safe!
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