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How to Keep Fish When Kayak Fishing

How to Keep Fish When Kayak Fishing

I know we’ve grown accustomed to catch and release, but fish tastes GOOD!

So when you’re out fishing on your kayak, and you want to bring some home for the grill, you need to know the proper way to store them.

Today, I’ll show you different ways to keep fish fresh when kayak fishing, and other tips on bringing home good tasting fish!

Kill the Fish Quick to Keep Them Fresh

One thing to bear in mind, to keep a fish as fresh as possible, you need to make sure to kill it quickly. Letting the fish slowly die, causes natural toxins to seep into the meat, and letting the fish thrash about will bruise the meat. So, once you have the fish in your boat, you need to stun the fish. Do this by hitting the fish in a soft spot just above the eyes with a billy club.

It’s also best to bleed the fish out. This isn’t a requirement, you’ll still get good tasting fish just by storing them properly and stunning them, but if you want sashimi grade fish, you need to bleed them out before you store them away.

How to Keep Fish When Kayak Fishing

Keeping fish when you’re kayak fishing doesn’t have a one size fits all method. Instead, you need to take into account where you’re fishing, what you’re catching, and the size of your kayak.

  • Kayak Cooler

The most obvious choice is a cooler. Coolers are insulated and keep the fish cool; protecting the meat from deteriorating from the warmth of the sun. There are plenty of great kayak coolers that are compact enough to fit right behind you kayak seat, while big enough to store a good amount of fish.

  • Fish Bag

A solid choice for keeping your fish fresh is a fish bag. These bags are simple insulated bags that fit on the floor of your kayak, or on in the hull storage, that keep the fish cool thanks to ice packs or ice. If you don’t want to spring for an expensive “name brand” kayak fish bag, you can achieve the same effect with a $1 cooler bag from the grocery store.

  • Dry Bag with Ice Packs

An out of the box method, you can use your dry back loaded with either ice or ice packs for a convenient place to store your fish.

  • Stringers

Stringers are a popular choice among many kayak anglers because they take no space at all inside the kayak. Instead, you’re stringing up your catch and letting it float in the cool water as you fish. However, you should know this isn’t the best way to keep your fish fresh. Bobbing in the water can bruise the fish, plus, fish can sometimes fall of the stringer. Also, stringers add quite a bit of drag to the boat.

  • Burlap Sacks

A cheap alternative to a fish bag is a regular burlap sack. They use condensation to keep the fish cool. Before you throw a fish in one, though, make sure it’s wet. Usually, just a quick dip in the water will do. Also, if you see it drying up don’t forget to soak it back down.

When to Avoid Using Stringers

If you’re fishing in the Ocean, do NOT use a stringer. It’s just asking for trouble. Predators like Sharks, Sea Lions, and Orcas see dead dangling fish in the water as nothing more than an easy snack. The last thing you want is an encounter with a Shark or an Orca.

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