Anglers love to debate the table qualities of their favorite quarry. In truth, the way a fish is treated after capture makes as much difference to its taste as its species. Here’s how to keep the best flavor in your catch:
Belly Rub ’Em
Fish go dormant when you hold them upside down. If you can flip them over and hold white side up, they’ll hold still while you de-hook them.
Administering a solid thump at the back of the head with a fish billy prevents the fish from flopping as much and bruising the meat.
Your fish will never look better, so take photos ASAP, before its colors fade.
Blood and entrails begin spoiling immediately. Remove the gills and make a cut under the chin and at the base of the tail to “bleed” your catch. Gut it, if time permits.
A cooler with ice is best. For one thing, chilled flesh is stiffer and makes filleting easier. Pack the body cavity with ice and don’t allow fish to lie in the meltwater at the bottom.