Whether you are out on a weekend getaway, or fishing in a survival situation, knowing how to handle and prepare your catch for eating is very important. Improper cleaning or storage can result in inedible fish or game. Your environment will change the process for killing, cleaning and preparing your fresh catch, for instance you may not have access to bulk ice on your fishing trip to preserve your fish, but here are some suggestions to get the process underway.
How to Keep It Fresh
If the waters you are fishing are fairly cool and you have a way to gather your fish, keeping the fish alive will extend your time for processing them. To do this you could use cordage to make a stringer, a long stick with a branch elbow at the end, you can build a rock pond to hold them in, or possibly fashion a basket or net together with cordage to collect and capture your tasty meal.
Killing Your Catch
There are several different methods available for a quick ethical kill, but you must either be ready to gut and store your fish in a cool place or be prepared to fillet, cook and eat it. When you pull your fish out of the water from you stringer, net or basket choose a method that will kill them instantly, otherwise letting them suffocate out of water will lead to a build up of lactic acid and waste products in the flesh. The best methods are to use a substantial blunt object like a stick or rock to "bonk" them right on top of the head, use a sharp object to stab them right in the brain in the middle of there head where their spine starts, or to cut through their gill plates and bleed them which will also be a quick kill.
Cleaning and Cooking
Depending on what method you plan to use to cook your meal will differentiate how to clean it, but generally speaking, gut your fish, and then you can leave whole or fillet. In a survival situation, you can impale a whole fish on a stick and cook it over an open fire. However, boiling the fish with the skin on is the best way to get the most food value. The fats and oil are under the skin and, by boiling, you can save the juices for broth. Additionally, you can pack fish into a ball of clay and bury it in the coals of a fire until the clay hardens and then break open the clay ball to get to the cooked fish. Fish is done when the meat flakes off. If you plan to keep the fish for later, smoke or fry it.
And there you have it, be prepared and know what to do in order to utilize your catch. It is highly suggested when travelling, hiking, or camping to have a knife as well as some hooks and line in your pack in case of an emergency, or check out our Survival Paracord Fishing Kit to add to your every day carry if you haven't already!