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Cleaning fish that have frozen


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I took a few sunfish home to clean a couple weeks ago and they had frozen while out out on the ice. I thawed them out when I got home and cleaned them up and noticed that they all were darker colored fillets than I am used to and had a pronounced centerline of the fillet. In other words they were not the clean white fillets I am used to in the summer.

Is this blood that gets frozen in the fillets? Can I do anything to help this?

These are the first "winter" fish I have caught/cleaned. Just curious if this is a winter phenomenon.

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its better off to have the fish freeze instead of being in a hot fish house all day.i find the same thing in my walleyes also.to me its no biggie they will taste the same.

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I only use the saltwater brine if the fillets seem overly slimy. The s/w seems to get rid of that. Also, I wipe the fish in newspaper to remove the excess slime before filleting. Personally, I prefer the fish to be frozen, that way after a hard day of fishing I can wait untill the next day or so to clean them.

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I also have used the S/W brine. It cleans the blood out and fish is fresh for the next day. If you do have your fish freeze while on the ice, let them slowly thaw, don't run hot water on them as it will "mush" the filet.

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Next time you want to keep some fish. Cut their throats as soon as you catch them. Put in a pail of ice water. When you get home to clean them there will be no bloody mess and the fillets will be as nice as if you soaked. I've been doing this for years both summer & winter and it works great.


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First off, I catch and release 99.9% of my fish, because I figure it does help. Plus when I get home from fishing, I want to unload and go inside.

But, when I do keep fish (ones that die and I can not get back down the hole) I try to keep them from freezing, because that means the next day clean for most. Funny, because right after I clean them, they go right into a dish/bowl of ice/water, with some salt. I cook them the next day.

Now, this past weekend I had a privilege of watching a bunch of (cat) fish flayers at work. Fresh or frozen, they got the job done. I would say the frozen approach would be better for cats, because of the amount of blood involved, but that was just an observation.

This is my 2 cents on this subject.

Good luck..

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