Blackfish (tautog), wreck fishing chartersStriped bass (stripers) charters, trolling and chunking Karen Ann II - New Jersey Charter Boat35' Custom Downeast Sportfisherman / New Jersey Charterboat Bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, chunking and trolling, inshore and canyonMako shark, offshore fishing
  Wrecks - Bottom - Trolling - Inshore - Offshore 23 April 2018
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Caring For Your Catch

Many people will never truly appreciate what great table fare fish can be for one simple reason - they've never eaten fish that has been well cared for. Most "fresh" fish in markets probably sat on deck baking in the sun before making it below decks, where it was probably then flash frozen. This was weeks before it ever made it to the store. As such, most people are very well acquainted with "that fishy taste". However, give them a fresh piece of fish that was caught that day and well taken care of, and their minds (and stomaches) will be opened to a whole new world.

To begin, you need to properly care for your catch as soon as it hits the deck. Due to space constraints, people use relatively undersized coolers and think that by adding a bag of ice, they are doing a good job of caring for their catch. A better solution is to create a cold saltwater brine. On the Karen Ann II, this is accomplished by storing the fish in an oversized fish box. I put a large ice block or two in the box, and then add enough saltwater to keep the fish covered. The ice cools the water, which in turns cool the fish. This is a much more effective way of keeping your catch cool than dumping a few ice cubes on fish which will melt within a matter of minutes.

When cleaning fish, you want to keep two things in mind: keep the fillets cool and keep them moist (but not soaked). It is a shame to see people have a good catch of fish that were well cared for on the boat, only to see them ruined at the fillet table. When filleting fish, place the fillets in a separate cooler; don't leave them piled on the table in the sun for 45 minutes. Not only does this keep them out of the sun, but it also keeps them safe from the opportunisitic sea gull. Keep them out of direct contact with water as that causes the fillets to become mushy, although it's ok to give them a quick rinse outside to get off the majority of any blood and scales.

Once home and inside with your fillets, rinse them in fresh water and cut out any remaining bones and trim any existing dark meat. Now, lay them out on paper towels and gently pat them dry. If you're not going to eat the fish right away, let them dry for about 20 minutes, placing dry paper towels under the fish after about 10 minutes. (This is most important when freezing the fish as it helps reduce freezer burn.) Bag the fish in meal size bags. You don't want to put too many fillets in a bag because the weight of those on top will bruise the ones on the bottom and squeeze out whatever remaining moisture there was, leaving the bottom fillets sitting in a puddle of water.

If you are going to freeze some fish, get yourself a vacuum bagging machine. After spending hundreds of dollars on rods, reels, bait and fuel, a one time $99 investment will really add to the value of your catch. Properly dried and sealed, you can take fish out of the freezer six months after catching it, and it's practically as good as the first day.

When cared for properly, you can get the pretty much get the biggest fishy-taste hater there is to look forward to you bringing home the fresh catch of the day!

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