Are there any special techniques that must be used when it comes to cleaning and preparing fish after they have been caught through sport fishing?

Get expert advice on how to safely clean fish. A step-by-step process from letting the fish rest on the table to preparing it for cooking. Scaling tool (or a butter knife) Cleaning a fish is a bloody affair, so try using a cleaning station in the park. If not, try to find an outdoor table outside.

Do the right thing and place a generous layer (or three) of newspaper underneath your preparation station. Make sure you have access to a faucet, as you'll want to rinse the fish before cleaning it. And you'll want to keep your hands clean and rinsed throughout the process. Running the fish through cool, cold water will help loosen the scales.

After patting the fish, place it on several sheets of newspaper, which will make cleaning easier. Because the skin is normally left on fillets or chops, most fish must be scaled before this operation. If a fish is stuck deep in the throat or intestine, research has shown that it's best to cut the leader as close to the hook as possible and leave the hook inside the fish. Letting a fish move and die slowly from asphyxiation is not only cruel and unethical, but it can also cause serious degradation of meat and reduce its value as food.

Unfortunately, the human impact on fish habitats makes learning about the fishing environment a requirement. Lowering the temperature of fish can dramatically slow the growth of these potentially harmful bacteria. Land the fish as fast as you can and either unhook it carefully and return it to the water, or kill it immediately if it's destined for the table. They also allow anglers to quickly release fish with minimal handling, which can increase the fish's chances of survival.

And the less time you spend handling a fish and keeping it out of the water, the better its chances of surviving. The best way to keep fish in the freezer is to vacuum seal it, which protects the fish from freeze-burn. By far the best way to do this is to completely immerse the fish in an “ice slurry” consisting of crushed or cubed ice and salt water (clean seawater, if you're fishing in the ocean). Adopt a few simple habits using appropriate handling techniques to help increase the survival rate of the fish you release.

See Florida's current recreational saltwater fishing regulations, South Atlantic fishing best practices and regulations, and Gulf of Mexico fishing best practices and regulations. Most freezing methods work best if you freeze the fish quickly first: Place the fish uncovered on a sheet of aluminum foil in the freezer to freeze it as quickly as possible. Hooking a fish in the mouth reduces internal damage, decreases unhooking time and decreases the chances that the angler will need to leave the hook on the fish. The most common causes of mortality after release are the physiological stress suffered by fish as a result of efforts during capture, injuries caused by the hook and the poor management of the fish by the angler.

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