fish fillets

The mind is a terrible thing, or why I needed logbooks

I remember catching 20 fish one morning weighing over 200 lbs. in Lake Granby. We were averaging 10-15 fish a day weighing around 150 lbs.  I do not however remember the depth, but I do the location and the techniques along with the lures. The other things I do not remember

what we were doing before we learned this technique.

 

     When I started chasing large fish, one gentleman told me to go buy a day timer. It has a daily calendar which would keep fishing logs for numerous years. The beauty to these is after a few years of keeping this style of log book in my truck, I’ve been able to look back at a particular week and see 3 years of fishing. This gives me a great opportunity to go chase the best bite. 

 

     Items I write down are simple.

Location, depth, weather, results, what I used, any info I was told about (if I thought it was real). I also started using a GPS back then and Id give my waypoints a code. It is something like PHrds23s. The first letter(s) would be location (Pumphouse) then structure (road, south would be the south end of the road bed) then the depth at full pool (23). Depth at full pool is very important out west because I’ve rarely fished the same lake elevation on lake Granby from year to year.

 

     By keeping a simple written log book I’m able to glean information about my trips for the past 20 years. This has helped me turn tough bites into a manageable bite. Its also given me the opportunity not to think about what’s happening where, I just look it up.

 

     I’m not saying networking isn’t important, it is very important. If everyone we fished with kept a written log, wed never miss that very hot bite we always talk about. 

The fall season is just beginning, get yourself a day timer and start writing down your experiences. In a few years it will pay huge dividends.

ICE PREP

It’s just after Labor Day which means we have less then 100 days before we’re walking on ice. I am not one to wait till last minute to get my gear ready. Over the weekend I spent a little time in the garage assessing my gear. I moved the hitches, extra buckets, chairs and stuff like that to the snowmobile trailer. In the weeks to come it will be time to inventory rods, reels, line and tackle. 

While inventorying rods I will check the guides closely for any damage. The reels will get last year’s line stripped off of them, cleaned and lubricated for the upcoming season. After that I will look at the line inventory, if I have enough ice line I will respool them as U get time. 

The tackle is the best part of the inventory. A few years ago, I started using Clam’s jig boxes and soft plastics wallets. These do help keep me organized.  If I’m lucky I put the tackle away in the boxes they belong in, if not it will be taken care of during a preseason game. After organizing my tackle, I can take a quick inventory and make a list on my phone of anything I need to restock. 

Every fall tackle manufacturer’s come out with their new shapes and colors. It’s always a challenge to see what we can’t live without. I tend to be a “shapes and size “guy more than a color guy. By understanding what you like to use, it helps keep your new orders in budget with your wallet.

While the weather is still warm, it’s a good idea to pull out the tents. Are they dirty, torn or just in need of a little tlc? Now is a good time to take note and get these ready. Look at the stitching closely making sure its not coming apart. Are the windows in good shape? How about the zippers? Did you bend or break any poles last year? Are the tubs cracked or worn down?  You still have plenty of time to get these in shape for the season. 

Later in the season I will go through the snow machines and service them. Along with a service I will spend time looking at the body to make sure I did not crack anything last year. Check the hitches closely, these go through a lot of stress during the season. I also start my machines once a month throughout the summer to make sure the fuel does not evaporate and dry out the carbs. 

This is a list I use to get ready for the ice season. It allows me to move at a comfortable pace and be ready when the ponds freeze up here. I always find more to do but that’s the idea, start slowly and keep moving at your comfort level and you won’t be in a last-minute panic. The other advantage of Labor Day is the water is starting to cool down and that great open water fishing will be getting warmed up. Don’t forget to harass those fish and while you’re out there look for new spots to ice fish. 

 

Keeping fish for dinner? prep it right.

A lot of people like to eat their catch, Im one of “those guys”. Years ago I would catch my fish, put them on a stringer or in a live well. At the end of the day would fillet them. I did notice the fish would be “mushy” and not taste very good. After a fishing trip with a couple older guys I learned a very important lesson. Fish prep before you're off the water. Here are a few steps I do to keep the fish cool and more desirable to eat.

  1. After catching the fish, I slit its throat and put it in the live well. The fish will generally bleed out in a few minutes. Bleeding the fish out gives us 2 results. Keeps the lactic acid from entering the meat. It also keeps blood from getting on the cleaning area, less mess to clean up.

  2. Keep your live well pumping, the water in your well will get very warm and nasty.

  3. I then throw them in a cooler UNDER ice. I always put meat under ice, this helps keep the meat as cold as possible.

  4. Ice fishing is a different animal all together. Frozen fish is tougher too fillet. In the winter immediately after the cash I will slit their throats. After they bleed out I will put them in a cooler.

When you get to the cleaning station your fish will be very cool and firm but wait there’s more. After cleaning your fish rinse them off thoroughly with fresh water. This washes off bacteria that will start breaking down the fish. Put them in a plastic bag, under ice, when you get to the campsite or home the fish will be in excellent shape to eat.

If you are freezing the fish for a later meal, either vacuum seal the fish or freeze them in water. We put our fillets in a plastic bag (with the species name and date on it) fill them full of water then force water out of the bag while zipping it shut. This keeps air out of the bag and prevents freezer burn. When thawing out our fish, we will put the bags in cold water. This will help it thaw faster without damaging the meat.

By following these simple tips your fish just might taste a little better. Please remember selective harvest is important. Let hem big fish go so we can have more smaller fish to eat in the future. If your interested in so fish recipes try these. https://www.fishingwithbernie.com/recipes