Freezing Fish

One nice thing about ice fishing is most of the time the fish freezes immediately upon removing it from the hole. There’s no need to bring along a cooler of ice to keep it cold. In the summer a person needs to be more careful about keeping the fish in good condition.

I’ve read a lot of articles about cleaning and cooking fish but I can’t say I had ever read one about freezing fish before finding it on the Take me Fishing website. I’ve never heard of using aluminum foil to wrap fish and the article doesn’t explain either. The article does offer some great suggestions on how to keep your fish tasting as fresh as possible.

Once you have learned how to fish, caught the big one and are heading back with your fresh catch, you will need to learn the proper way to store fish if you don’t plan to eat it right away.

First, remember to keep a fish alive or chilled with ice from the time it’s caught until it’s stored. Clean the fish as soon as possible to preserve its flavor. However, a whole fish can be kept for up to a day before cleaning, if it is iced or chilled. Once you have a clean fish and you have filleted or steaked to your liking, there are several ways to store it. You can refrigerate fish or you can freeze fish.


It’s very important to ice fish all throughout the process of preparing it. But it is especially important after a fish is dressed, to ice it. Icing fish is also the best way to store fish for transport. Use an insulated cooler and leave the cooler’s drain plug open so ice water will run out. Water spoils the flavor of the fish.


Before refrigerating a fish, wash it in cold water and dry it with a clean cloth or paper towels. Then wrap the clean fish in waxed paper, plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and store it on ice or in the refrigerator. You can usually store a fish in the refrigerator for up to two days. Large fish or large pieces of fish will keep longer than small pieces. Lean fish (panfish and walleye) store better than fatty fish (trout).

Freeze Fish

An example of how to store fish by sealing them in airtight packages and freezing them

Frozen fish can last from three to 12 months. However, the preparation for freezing is important. A fish can lose its flavor if it comes in contact with air. Here are a few methods for freezing:

  • Clean the fish, then place it a freezer safe ziploc bag. Before you zip, make sure to remove all of the air, or as much of the air as possible.
  • Also consider wrapping the fish in aluminum foil, then wrapping them again in freezer paper before you freeze fish.
  • If you store fish often, consider buying an air tight package sealor. These work best as they remove all air from the package as they are sealed, preventing the fish from losing its flavor.
  • Another way is to freeze fish is in a solid block of ice. Use a refrigerator container. Place the clean fish into the container, but use only enough water to just cover the fish.

To thaw frozen fish, put it in the refrigerator overnight or place the wrapped fish in cold water. Don’t thaw fish in a microwave because part of the fish will begin to cook before other parts are thawed. Don’t thaw fish at room temperature. To prepare fresh fish, consider these ways to cook your catch.

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