Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

I just need to know...  Is it just me, or do you guys put your fish on ice before you clean them all?  A buddy of mine keeps them in the live well and just filets them up right from there.  

Two things... I feel bad about fileting a living fish lol...  Maybe that's just me.  But I find it easier to filet them if they're stiff.

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YUP WE'VE been putting em on ice for the last 15 years or so and when ya come in from a long day on the water if you don't want to do em right away this is a good alternative .....

I never put my fish on ice. if I'm keeping a mess to eat, I use a collapsible mesh fish basket and let em' swim. If I had to travel an hour or so from the lake to my house before i could clean them, I might consider the ice.

I clean em' alive also. Doesn't get much fresher than that.

Maybe I'm just a little sissy girl, but to me that's like field dressing a wounded deer.  At least when they're on ice for an hour or two, they don't flop around when I cut into them.

Chris, I don't think your aversion to cleaning live fish makes you appear that way at all. But I do believe, that all of us draw our own "Do not cross" line, regarding what is acceptable or not. I wouldn't field dress a wounded deer either, but I have absolutely no problem impaling a live worm, cricket, or minnow on a steel hook while it's very much alive.

How many of us have eaten at a seafood restaurant where you get to pick your own lobster from a tank? That sucker is still alive when they drop it into a pot filled with boiling water. And I can't be the only one who has enlisted the services of a fishing guide, and enjoyed an excellent shore lunch of filets from the still alive fish that I just caught, and the guide put a knife to?

I was raised in a very rural background, and while there was always respect for what nature gave us, it was usually tempered with necessity and practicality. I was taught that tending to the game or fish that one harvested was of paramount importance, and the notion of putting off cleaning fish because I was tired is completely foreign to me...if that be the case, than I should've quit fishing sooner, while I still felt like cleaning them.

To me, fresh fish is just that...fresh. I don't have any problem with cleaning live fish, but I understand that there are those who might, and I respect that.

It's funny I just had the conversation about the worms with someone yesterday...  I do agree with you about all the stuff that you said here by the way.  And I do like fresh fish.  I'm the only one that eats fish in my family so luckily I dont need to keep many when I go out fishing.  I've felt that putting them on ice until I get home is still fresh fish though.  Maybe that's how I justify it...  It's not like they're frozen, just cold and not moving...  It probably is a faster death by fileting them instead of letting them suffocate and freeze to death.

I put them on ice when I catch them, and then usually in a plastic bag in the fridge for a day before I clean them. There are YouTube videos of people cleaning fish while the fish is still flopping and swinging its tail. I want them dead when I cut them. Not to mention that I am usually not up for a messy chore right after I get home, either.

generally ; I put mine in a live well till I get home;; then its cleaning time! 

My gills usually go in a bucket with water or on a stringer, and when I get them home they're sometimes pretty lively. I can see the wisdom in the ice though. When I'm saltwater fishing, the keepers of most species go straight to the ice once I get the hook out. This is for a number of reasons: I find a stringer impractical in saltwater, I'm usually fishing for a bit longer in salt than in fresh, and I usually have a longer haul to get home. Then of course, I'm usually pretty tired when I get home, and I'd like to relax for a few minutes before breaking out the knife. With some species, it helps to bleed them once they're caught in order to prevent spoilage (like bluefish for example) and this will also kill them more quickly than ice. Not necessary to slit the throat of a bluegill before putting him on ice, but I don't guess it would hurt anything.

I try to keep the fish alive for as long as I'm actively fishing

Once I leave, the fish go into a cooler.  I make a bee-line for the closest gas station, which is usually just a mile or two away.  I'll buy a bag of ice, remove the fish from the stringer, and cut their gills as I do that.  Then, I dump the ice over top.  The fish are usually dead, exsanguinated, and cold by the time I get home.  I usually let them sit in the ice for a few hours before I clean them.  This let rigor mortis set it, and makes them easier to clean.

BTW, from a "legal" standpoint, the difinition of "fresh" food is that it has to be "as harvested", and cannot be "processed" by methods such as freezing, cooking, canning, drying, etc.  You can catch a fish, ice it down, clean it, and keep the fillets on ice for a couple days, and they are still considered "fresh".

I submit that "fresh" is an interpretive standard when legality is not a concern....I can also state that the best tasting bluegill filets I have ever eaten have been those taken from fish pulled through the ice, and filleted right then, or a few minutes thereafter, before the fish froze and was still alive. Once they are frozen, they just don't taste the same to me. Still good mind you, but not as good.

I do almost exactly what Allen does except I don't cut the gills.  Maybe I should do that?

I find by the time I get to fileting the fish they aren't frozen though.  Just cold.

I find that the ambient temperature determines what I do with the fish. In the summer, when there is a chance that I might have my fish get warm and die on the way home, I simply put them on ice in a cooler and fillet them later in the evening. They are still 'fresh' and quite cold. In the fall or spring, with much colder air temperatures, I would likely keep them in a bucket of cold water outside or in the shed where it is cold. 40 degree and colder weather does not, to me, call for putting fish on ice.

Common sense plays a role here, and we don't want our fish to stay in a livewell for a day in the heat or in a bucket of warm water overnight. The sooner you  can clean/fillet your fish after you catch them, the better flavor they are likely to retain. Just don't let them get warm or hot and have their fins fade and eyes glaze over from warmer temperatures. If you can't get to them right away in the summer, put them on ice and get to them as soon as you can.

The fresher, the better. And I agree with Tony...the best fillets are from fish caught through the ice and cleaned promptly.

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