How to: Catch and clean fish on a boat

Some of the die-hard people love fishing and will kill and clean their catch right on the boat.  This can be messy, dirty and inconvenient unless you have a boat specifically designed for fishing and or don’t mind the mess.  For people who own a boat like a Back Cove it can be difficult to try and balance the aesthetic  of the down east beauty, and the utility of an all around functional powerboat.  Most people try to avoid catching and cleaning fish on their boat because it is messy and time consuming.  In this post I will give a few personal tips on how to catch, clean and cook fish on a boat with minimal mess (note: Please check your local fishing regulations before catching and keeping fish)

1. Tackle.  It is not important to have the best gear in the world, a simple spinning rod or two with a decently stocked tackle box should be just fine.  Be sure to include: jigs, spoons,  sinkers, plugs, extra line, a knife, and pliers.   Your lures will obviously differ from location to location.  It is also nice to have some good rod holders, I have found a company called Burnewiin in Oregon that makes some really nice ones.   

2. Fishing.  Put on whatever suits you for a lure, no need to make a big long cast if you are motoring, just plunk the lure in the water and let out some line, I would say about 50 feet is enough depending on how deep the water is and how fast you are going.  Zig zag trolling I have found to be particularly effective.  If you are at anchor or drifting, casting can be fun too, just be careful not to hook anyone with your back swing!  Look for flocks of gulls on the water as this is where bait fish are found.

3. The Catch.  Once you hook into a fish, if you are trolling stop the engine.  If you are drifting or at anchor and casting try to keep the line away from the anchor chain and make your way to the back of the boat.  If you have a swim platform, stand on it, this is where you will want to land your fish. 

4. The Kill.  I know, no one likes to do it,  but it’s a part of life.  Keep a spray bottle of cheep vodka close by (no need for Grey Goose here!)  Once you have your fish in hand, spray some vodka into it’s gills, this will starve the fish of oxygen and it will gently slip into eternal sleep.  This method avoids the bludgeoning problem and the mess also common with the kill.  The fish is also relaxed when it dies, and does not release adrenaline which is commonly associated with a gamey fishy taste.  Give yourself a few squirts in the mouth too, congratulations you caught a fish!

5. The Clean.  Any plastic cutting board is fine to use.  Remove the head and toss it in the drink (or keep it and use it to fish with!)  You can also remove the tail if you like.  Make a cut from the anal fin to where the head used to be.  Use your fingers to remove then innards and toss them in the drink as well.  From here the rest of the fillet depends on what type of fish you have caught, and how you plan on preparing it.   Clean the cutting board with saltwater and then spray it down with the vodka to sterilize it.  You can also spray some on your hands to keep them from smelling fishy. 

6. The Cook.  This is where I leave you to your personal devices.  I personally like to use the grill for this one.  Many companies make small propane grills that fit right into your rod holders, these are great for all sorts of outdoor BBQing (word of advice, be mindful of the wind).  Depending on the fish species, I usually like to lay the fish skin-side down on a sheet of tinfoil.  I’ll add butter, salt, pepper and other spices.  I put the foil on the grill and fold up the edges.  I usually cook for 8-10 minutes depending on the grill and the size of the fish.  Take the foil off the heat and use a spatula to take the fish off the foil, the skin should stick to the foil leaving only the fish.  Pop the cork on a nice white wine and Bon-Apatite! 

How to: Catch and clean fish on a boat
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