Kayak Fishing Ultimate Resource

Thursday, 31 May 2018 08:32

How To Safely Store Your Catches On A Kayak

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After the thrill of successfully reeling in your catch, you are faced with two options; either keep the fish and eat it later, or let it go. However, both of these options pose their own challenges, especially on a fishing kayak where you have very limited space for storage and maneuverability. Storing your catch must be done in a manner that ensures it stays fresh and out of your way while releasing the fish must be done without harming it or yourself. Thankfully, anglers now have a lot of tools at their disposal to ensure that whether they keep or release their catch, it can be done safely and with maximum efficiency.

The Weather

When it comes to keeping your fish the weather is going to play an important role. In areas that are extremely cold, you could probably get away with a little a little less effort in regards to cooling, but in hot weather, it is essential to keep the fish chilled. Although it is possible to simply toss a fish in a hatch during winter times to keep it fresh, you'll still be left with the unpleasant task of cleaning the hatch afterward.

Killing Your Catch

A live fish is obviously a fresh fish, but kayaks don't have the luxury of large boats when it comes to gear like live-wells. A live fish on a kayak will slowly die, which causes a myriad of issues ranging from bruised meat due to all the thrashing as well as the release of natural toxins. In addition, having a live fish flap around in your kayak is not very safe. This means that you have to kill your catch as quickly and humanely as possible to keep it fresh. The quickest way to accomplish this is a swift blow to the head (you'll find a soft spot just above the eyes). Some anglers also prefer quickly killing the fish with a knife, but stabbing things in the close confines of a kayak can be hazardous if you don’t exercise caution.

The Pros and Cons of Stringers

Many kayak anglers swear by stringers to keep their catch fresh, while others have nothing but disdain for this technique. Using stringers for large fish means you don't have to worry about lugging around a cooler with you, but the downside is that it will influence your tracking when you have a large fish tethered to your kayak. You'll also find that you are much slower in the water when using strings and there is always the risk of attracting predators when using this method. However, this might not be an issue for anglers who are fishing slow and stick to water where there are no nasty predators lurking. One situation where you definitely want to avoid stringers is when fishing in salt water where sharks are present. A dead fish is still going to be worse off getting dragged around in hot water compared to one that is properly stored in ice, so the water temperature will also play a role. Of course, fans of stringers will point out that not having your catch with you in the kayak is a lot safer when it comes to cuts or bites. Detractors on the other hand claim that the fish can get bruised from getting dragged around on a stringer and the risk of losing your catch is also greater.


Cooler designs have come a long way and these days there are a number of great options that are specifically aimed at kayak anglers. Some of the best coolers on the market are able to keep fish fresh for extended periods, so you never have to cut your fishing trips short out of fear that your haul will spoil. Take a look at our "Seven Kayak Fishing Coolers That Are Worth The Investment" (http://www.yakangler.com/kayaks-and-gear/item/3963-seven-best-kayak-fishing-coolers) article for more information about what is available and what they can offer. In addition to coolers, there are also insulated bags available on the market that can be used to keep fresh.

What To Look For

It is easy to spot whether or not your fish has stayed fresh after the time you have spent out on the water. Simply check to see whether the eyes of your fish are still clear and if their flesh is still firm. If you spot fish with eyes that are milky or red, then you know that your cooling solution needs some improvements. Mushy meat is another telltale sign of improper cooling.


Keeping your fish fresh is very important, but not all methods will work perfectly for all anglers. There are a lot of factors that plays a big role in preserving your catch, such as the size of your kayak, the weather, the water in which  you are fishing as well as the type of fish that you are hauling in. Some anglers even resort to methods like keeping a live-well in their trucks and paddling back in with large catches that they want to keep alive. Let us know in the comments below or on the forums what methods work for you when it comes to going home with a fresh haul of fish at the end of your fishing trips. 

Read 15166 times Last modified on Thursday, 31 May 2018 08:44
Naomi Bolton

Yakangler's Community Manager and Editor - in charge of sourcing news and articles for the website. ┬áIf you have any ideas for new content, please do get in touch with me at: [email protected]


# BassYakWards 2018-06-01 15:56
I can certainly see where salt water species would be harder to preserve than freshwater in many cases. I fish mainly freshwater and use a stringer. My biggest concern is turtles!

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