What Is The Best Way To Keep Your Caught Fish When Ice Fishing?

How to keep your caught fish really depends on how long you are fishing for and how much space you have. Generally, it’s best to put your fish in a cooler full of ice to keep the sun from baking them. Sometimes it is best to put them in a bait well on a boat if you are going to be out for a long time. Additionally, some people prefer to clean the fish as soon as they catch it and simply ice the bag of meat.

Since you are ice fishing, there’s no need to keep your catch alive on a bait well. My suggestion would be to simply fill a cooler (the cooler doesn’t have to be very nice; a simple styrofoam one will do the trick) with ice or snow. Personally, I prefer to store the whole fish in ice and clean it later. If you are targeting larger fish, however, and do not have enough space in your cooler, you can always clean it right away, put the meat in a gallon ziplock bag, and store just that in your cooler. However, that is obviously more messy and I suggest you clean up after yourself by dumping water over the area where you cleaned the fish. Since you won’t have a hose, just fill a small bucket with water and wash the scales and blood away.

Image By Adamakafade (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • Vale: Great tips Laura! What do you need to bring to clean a fish while you’re out fishing?
  • Laura T: Vale,
    The only absolute necessities for cleaning a fish is a fillet knife, cutting place, and a fish of course! If you’re fishing off a boat or a dock, a lot of public boat ramps/docks have a cleaning station, basically a plastic or fiberglass table thing where you can clean the fish. Usually they have a hose attached so you can wash it off after use. You can also always just do it on a clean cutting board or something of the sort. It’ll make a mess though, with all the scales and blood and bones, so it’s better to do it outside.
  • Vale: Thanks Laura! That doesn’t seem like too much to bring :)

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