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weird beard

Live well in fish house?

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Anybody use a live well (aerated cooler) instead of just throwing their fish outside? I think freezing fish and then thawing them to clean lessens the quality. So what's the best way to care for your ice fishing bounty?? And do you guys/gals fillet big crappies or just gut and scale them? I find crappies the most difficult to fillet. I'd rather cut y-bones from a northern than fillet crappies, plus there's less waste just gutting them. I know some of you probably just freeze them on a stick and eat'em like fudgecicles. Comments? Suggestions? Ideas? Anybody?

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The best way I found to clean crappies is to cut them in a circle. Start by cutting the side behind the head. Then cut into the top side but don't cut into the stumach area. Next after the stumach area is bypassed go down to the waste hole and go to the tail but don't cut off. Now you open top up and cut along the rib cage. Cut off the area in front of the waste hole and take the skin off. Repeat for side two. Best way I've found for crappies and sunnies, you get the most meat and don't cut into the smelly stuff. Found it's easiest to clean fish when slightly frozen.

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You can make your own livewell by drilling a hole just short of all the way through. If you have a center point on your auger, it will have penetrated through the ice when your auger starts to rock like it does when you get to the bottom of the hole. You'll have to experiment to get it right. Or you can stop it a couple inches short and finish with a spud bar, just punching a small hole all the way through.

That way, the hole fills up with water but the hole is small enough that fish can't get out. Keeps them alive for many hours, though it's another hole to keep slushed out. Also, your hands can get pretty cold trying to fish out pannies from a hole 2 feet deep by 10 inches wide. grin.gif

I don't do it this way, since it's so much hassle. I just bleed decent sized fish and, when all the blood's gone, chuck them in the tub on my Fish Trap II, which keeps them cold but generally doesn't freeze them.

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"Worry less, fish more."
Steve Foss
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The best method I have found for keeping fish on the ice is use a 5 gallon bucket and attach a metal stringer, the kind with the individual hooks on it, to the handle of the bucket. Drill a hole outside of your shack and attach the fish to the stringer and put them down the hole. The bucket will keep the stringer on top of the ice and then you have something to carry your fresh, lively and un-frozen fish home in.

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I like to scale them out on the ice I use a old metal ice scoop looks kind of like the cheap plastic ones only metal.Before they freeze you just step on their head and a couple of swipes on each side with the ice scoop and the scales are off.Then I fillet them with the electric knife.If you have an old cooler you can throw them in there to keep them from freezing.

[This message has been edited by rmh2o (edited 01-21-2004).]

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I do something like you stfcatfish, but it isn't just one hole, I like to go for about 6 for the larger fish. grin.gif
I take my ice auger, a 9" strikemaster ultra lazer auger on a 2.5hp eskimo engine (very fast), and drill holes in the ice near the fish house. But when drilling dont go all the way down through the ice, just take a guess and stop right before you break through, about 3" to spare is just right unless there is more than 20" of ice then you can make it however deep you want. I normally drill a 2x3 or 2x4 9" circles with the auger. I like bigger holes for putting Pike in them.
After the hole is drilled try and get most of the snow out of the hole. If you have a drill and a good sized bit just drill a little hole in the center, for the water to enter through and you are set! You can even poke a hole trough will a spud bar like stfcatfish said but be careful and dont break out a big chunk of ice and ruin the hole (I did that once).
The only disadvantage to having it outside is everybody can see your catch. Thats why it might be smarter to drill one in your house.

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AKA PikeEye 300

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I also work similar to stcatfish...drill a hole until you're about 1-2 inches from breaking thru, the hole will fill with water. You can fish your catch out with an ice scoop that way you won't freeze your arm off.

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Well a nice lindy fish handling glove does help. Then again your hand gets cold so all I can say is suck it up. lol tongue.gif

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AKA PikeEye 300

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I've seen people chop out a square hole on the ice and fill it with water and use it as a livewell, thats always interesting.

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I was planning a dinner of fish. So I consructed a live well similar to Mr. Catfish's. A few bluegill and crappie were thrown in a hole to swim around. Later in the day my friend and his 2 kids came down to try their luck. Actually my friend fished while the 4 and 6 year olds played with a pail makeing snow castles and horsed around with their plastic toy fishing poles. A little while later the kids were screaming with joy! They caught some fish! Now my friend and I are amazed, we started to think the kids stole them from other fisherman nearby. After they showed me where they caught there fish...I remembered they were mine. I whispered to my friend what the deal was, then throughout the day I'd toss one in the hole much to their delight. By the end of the ice season those boys developed quite the love for fishing. However, fishing was never quite that easy after that day! grin.gif

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The ebst livewell that I have found is I bring a cooler (I believe 32 qt) and then after all is set up I fill it 1/2 full of water. This way I have my seat and also a live well. If you are using it in a permanent it will stay fine for an evening without freezing up. Then when I get ready to leave I set the cooler outside and drain (side drain hole is a must) while I'm packing the rest of the stuff up. Fish are redy to filet when you get home.

As for crappies I skin them and filet them. But it can be done pretty easily with a frozen fish. Actually there a little more managable because they aren't flopping around. It just takes a toll on the fingers when the tips get cold.

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Just pack them in snow, place a few inches of snow in the bottom of the bucket and every few fish toss in a little more snow. When you are done fishing pack more snow on top, they will still be flopping in the sink the next day.
wink.gif

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I usually just fill a 5 gallon bucket 3/4 full with water and throw my fish in there as I catch them. At the end of the day just drain some of the water out and put a lid on it. It doesn't work for the larger fish over 18" or so, but it's good for panfish and perch. I also keep my minnows in a 5 gallon bucket and if I am tight on room and the fishing is slow I will use the same bucket for both bait and fish.

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Wables

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