Catch and Keep’em Tips from a Charter Captain: Preserving the Day’s Catch to Enjoy at Home

You have completed an awesome day on the water with your charter and you have fish to take home. Now what? Here are a few simple tips to help keep that fish fresh so it will taste amazing when you get home. Don’t worry, storing your catch at home doesn’t have to be rocket science. With a few simple tips and tricks, you can keep your seafood fresh, flavorful, and safe for consumption. In this blog post, we’ll explore the best ways to store different types of fish so that they stay delicious from sea to table.

Preserving your Catch: The Boat

You and your charter group had a successful day on the water and you are lucky enough to have fish to take home from your trip.  Now it’s time to learn how to properly store your fish to maintain the highest quality possible. As soon as you catch a fish, it begins to deteriorate. The goal of cleaning, filleting, and prepping your fish is to slow down this deterioration process so that you can enjoy your catch for days, weeks or even months after you’ve caught it. Here are some tips for doing just that:

– As soon as possible, the crew will be putting your catch on ice in the boat to begin the chilling process. Every charter should have ice on the boat and either a fish locker or cooler to begin this process.

– Typically the crew will focus on cleaning and fileting the fish on the return trip back to the dock.  Make sure they know how much you would like to take with you. Some will wait until they reach the dock if they happen to have a cleaning station there.  Either way, the crew will prep the fish for the journey home for you.  This is one of the ways they earn their tips!

– It is important to know what the regulations are in the area you are fishing for the species.  Not all fish can be kept at certain times of year.  Your charter Captain will know, so make sure they know you want to take fish home and how much so they are prepared before you leave the dock.  Some charters don’t want any fish so the entire trip is catch and release.

Preserving your Catch: The Dock

– Bring a cooler with ice and leave it in your car while fishing.  When you return, add your fish to the cooler and surround it with ice.  If you have a short distance to travel, and you can put it in a fridge quickly, you can get away with a simple Styrofoam cooler.  If you have more than 45 minutes to travel to get the fish into a fridge, you should use a real cooler like Igloo or Yeti.

– Unless you ask the charter captain otherwise, they will filet the fish for you, put the filets into bags so that you can store them in your cooler properly for the ride home.  If you want to keep the whole fish, make sure to let the captain and crew know ahead of time.

Preserving your Catch: At Home

– When storing cleaned fish in the refrigerator, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This will help keep it from drying out.  If you aren’t going to eat it within 48 hours, it is best to freeze it right away.

– Fish can also be stored in the freezer for long-term storage. In a perfect situation, you would have a vacuum sealing machine.  If you don’t, make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. I like to place the wrapped fish into a zip lock back and then into the freezer.  I like to portion the fish into the proper size before wrapping it. This allows me to pull out only what I will need from the freezer.

– Label the package with the date so you can keep track of how long it’s been stored. Most fish will be safe to eat if kept properly frozen for up to six months.


Fishing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get a delicious dinner at the same time. Some of these steps may seem very basic or just plain common sense, but 3 out of 7 trips, people forget to bring a cooler with them to transport it home. We want you to be able to enjoy your catch for days, weeks and even months to come, but it takes some preparation and planning. With these tips for storing your freshly caught fish at home, you will be able to make sure that your catch stays fresh until it’s time to cook. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that you have a tasty meal every time!

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