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How Long Until a Fish Goes Bad While Fishing?

How fast does a fish spoil? 

As soon as the fish dies, the process begins.


There are millions of bacteria living on the slime and gills of the fish and are usually not an issue to a healthy fish.  However, once the fish dies, these bacteria begin to invade the tissues of the fish and that is when spoilage begins.

Trust me, you do not want to eat a spoiled fish. 

What can you do to prevent the fish from going bad quickly?

  • Take precaution to avoid any extra damage or cuts to the fish that may provide more openings for bacteria to enter.
  • Clean the fish by removing the guts and washing off the slime from the surface of the fish.
  • Place immediately in a cooler full of ice to slow down the bacteria.

Note: the higher the temperature, the faster the bacteria multiply using the flesh of the fish as food.

These are methods to help keep your fish from going bad too quickly with the main component being to keep the fish as cold as possible.  0º C is ideal.  

Fish on ice

However, there's one more way to help prevent your fish from spoiling.

Don't let your fish die. 

As long as your fish is healthy and alive, the bacteria never enters the fish and the spoiling process never begins.

How many times have you caught a fish in the first few minutes and still have a whole day of fishing ahead of you?  Did you bring enough ice?  Do you need more ice? Are you on a boat? Time to go back? 

No need to worry about that if you have a bucket and an oxygen pump.  You can keep the fish alive for as long as possible, then clean your fish and toss in ice for the short ride home.  Or if you don't have ice, you can lower the water level and just bring the bucket home for the freshest fish possible.

A 5 gallon bucket with an oxygen pump can work pretty well for the smaller fishes.

We also have our Collapsible Fishing Bucket for this very reason.  It's comfortable to carry, provides more surface area for oxygen and can hold more or bigger fishes than the 5 gallon bucket. 

Remember, not just fish can go bad, any food can spoil.  We have used the fishing bucket for fish, crabs and crawfish and it worked great. 

So when you're out on your next fishing trip, take along something that can help keep your fish fresh and safe to eat!  Don't even risk eating a fish that has been dead for awhile without any ice.  Better to be safe than sorry!

Fish smart.



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