CORVALLIS - Okay, what's the absolute least amount of gear you need to take on a fishing trip? Let's see, a rod and reel, some extra tackle and hooks, bait. Oh, and don't forget a cooler filled with ice.
Unless you're a hook-and-release angler, one of the reasons you go fishing is to catch fish so that you or someone else can eat them. To maintain the best possible eating quality, you need to chill your catch immediately and keep it cold until you can refrigerate, freeze, or cook it.
Fish spoil rapidly if they aren't chilled soon after they die, so the farther you are from home, the more important it is to keep them on ice. When fish begin to deteriorate they develop an unpleasant fishy smell and soft, unappetizing flesh. Once this happens, there is little choice but to toss them in the garbage, a waste of a precious natural resource.
Recommended procedures for chilling as well as cleaning and gutting of sportcaught fish are explained in "Handling Sportcaught Fish," a seven-minute video and publication from the Oregon State University Extension Service.
In addition to the whys and hows of chilling, the easy-to-follow video provides a step-by-step demonstration of how to clean a fish, which is useful for teaching the process to youngsters or as a refresher for those who haven't performed the operation recently.
The companion publication expands on and serves as a reference to the information in the video.
The educational package "Handling Sportcaught Fish," VTP 018, sells for $12, which includes shipping and handling. It is available from Publication Orders, Extension and Station Communications, OSU, 422 Kerr Administration, Corvallis, Ore. 97331-2119. Or fax 541-737-0817.
Single copies of the publication, "Handling Sportcaught Fish," EC 1414, are available at no charge from the above address.