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HOW TO HANDLE YOUR CATCH

sure the fish is kept well iced in a cooler chest. In this case, the ice will last longer if you keep the water drained off it.

The proper handling of fresh caught seafood is one of the most misunderstood aspects of fishing. Poor planning in this area will lead to disappointment at the dinner table or worse. However, if you follow the following simple steps you will minimize waste and maximize the wonderful taste of fresh North Carolina seafood.

Rule number one is to make sure that your catch is properly refrigerated from the time it leaves the water to the time it hits the skillet or freezer. The volumes of fish that are caught might be as much as 500 pounds or more on an offshore boat. In this case, the fish must be chilled throughout and enough ice must be provided to keep the fish cold all day. Many boats fill the fishbox with saltwater and keep enough ice in it to chill the fish in a saltwater brine. For smaller amounts of fish just make

Rule number two requires you to keep the fish out of the heat and the sun as much as possible during the unloading process. Move through your picture taking process quickly and get the fish to the cleaning station without delay. This brings up an important point. Either you will clean your own fish or you will have them profes- sionally cleaned. Most of the marinas offer cleaning services in sanitary cleaning stations. You must remember that if you use a professional cleaner you will need to budget accordingly with your group. Fish cleaning averages 35 to 45 cents a pound for bulk weight. If you have 500 pounds of tuna….well you do the math! And don’t for- get that bulk cleaning returns your fish to you in ten pound bags so be prepared to break this down into serving size portions before you freeze it.

If you clean your own fish, be prepared to keep the fish cool while cleaning and also have a plan for discarding the carcasses. Whatever you do, don’t throw them in cottage dump- sters or garbage cans. Whether you choose to clean your own fish or have someone clean them for you, there is something else to remem- ber. Be sure not to allow fillets, loins, steaks or

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