How to Keep Trout Fresh After Catching [For As Long As Possible]

Trout is considered an all-around fantastic meal. They can be cooked in various ways, and they have a distinctive flavor.

On top of all of that, there are many health benefits that come with eating them as they’re low in calories and rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, and iron.

However, in order to cook trout and ensure it remains tasty, you need to make sure it remains fresh long enough after catching it, and you need to clean it properly.

To keep trout fresh after catching it, you need to kill it quickly and then put it in a cooler or a bucket full of ice. Clean it as soon as possible as fish guts spoil fast. Trout can remain fresh for about 6-12 hours, depending on the weather. To keep it fresh for longer, refrigerate after cleaning

Keep reading to learn more about keeping trout fresh after catching it and how to clean it efficiently.

How Long Can Fish Stay Fresh After Catching?

fresh trout to show how to keep trout fresh after catching

Anglers generally keep fish after catching them for two main reasons which are domestic use or commercial use. Either way, the fish needs to be kept fresh as the meat will spoil within 6-12 hours if it’s not treated properly.

There are various factors that affect how long fish can remain fresh after catching them.  So, let’s break down these factors:

  • Weather conditions – Fish tend to spoil faster when exposed to high degrees of heat or moisture.
  • Type of Fish – Some fish species can remain fresh longer depending on how oily they are. For example, oily fish species such as sardines can remain fresh for only 3 days while less oily fish species such as trout, tuna, bass, and salmon can remain fresh for up to 5 days.
  • TreatmentAccording to the FDA, fish can be stored in a refrigerator for about 2 to 4 days. Wrapping it in airtight packing and freezing it can prolong its life up to 3 months longer. So, if you want to cook the fish at any time, you can just take it out and thaw it.

What Is the Best Way to Keep Trout Fresh After Catching It?

Once you’ve caught a trout that you’re planning to keep and eat, you need to make sure it remains fresh until you get home.

The best way to keep trout fresh is to kill the fish quickly right after you catch it, then place it in a bucket full of ice or an insulated cooler to keep the meat delicious and firm.

Although you can try to keep the trout alive in a bucket of water or a live well, it’s usually better to kill and gut it because the decay process can set in quickly.

You will also need to immediately cut its gills and let it bleed out to get rid of any unpleasant flavors in the blood and preserve only the good flavors in the meat.

Once you have brought your trout catch home, you need to wash it using cold water then clean it thoroughly. After cleaning the fish, wrap aluminum foil, plastic, or waxed paper then put it in the refrigerator.

Freezing the fish will keep it in the best condition for the longest time. You can keep it in an airtight plastic container to block the smell of fish from getting on other items in your freezer. You can also put water in the container so it would freeze and create a solid block of ice around your fish.

How to Kill Trout Quickly?

Killing trout and gutting them right after catching will help keep them fresh longer.

You can kill trout quickly and humanely using various methods. The easiest and most common method is to insert a knife right behind the trout’s eyes into its brain, remove its gills to let all the blood drain out, then place it in an insulated cooler until you get home to clean it.

How to Clean Trout?

Cleaning your trout thoroughly is crucial as it has a great effect on how the fish will taste. It will also help keep it fresh for an extended period of time.

The longest you can wait to clean your trout after catching it is about 24 hours depending on how you store it.

Now, let’s take a look at the steps you can follow to efficiently clean your trout catch:

  • Hold the trout with its belly in an upright position then use a sharp knife to make a cut from its anal fins towards its head. Try to keep your blade shallow to avoid damaging the meat.
  • Cut the head off just before the pectoral fin. This step can be optional as some prefer to cook the trout with the head.
  • Use pliers to spread the trout’s body open so you can remove all of the entrails then use an old toothbrush to clean out the blood vein that runs along the fish’s spine. 
  • Wash the trout thoroughly from the inside and out using fresh cold water to remove any remains of blood.

You can also check out this quick video:

To fillet a trout, you need to cut across its tail on both sides, then cut across its spine and through the bones. Try removing as many bones as possible because they will make the trout difficult to cook and eat.

It’s also recommended to remove the skin from the trout fish before cooking it, however, if you prefer to keep the skin you need to remove all the fish scales. To remove the scales, you need to hold the trout firmly by its tail and scrape over its skin several times on both sides of its body using a sharp knife.

For an even more detailed guide, make sure to check out this post on how to eat trout.

How Can You Tell if a Trout Got Spoiled?

It’s recommended not to wait longer than 24 hours to clean your trout after catching it. If you wait too long to clean your catch or do not store the fish properly, it will spoil very quickly.

There are some clear signs that will help you tell if your fish got spoiled such as:

  • Bad fishy odor or a smell of ammonia
  • Thick and Slippery coating on the fish’s skin
  • Darker gills
  • Milky colored eyes
  • Slimy flesh

A Trout turning black, however, doesn’t always mean it’s bad and you can’t eat it. Check out this guide to why trout turn black for more.

Will Putting Trout on Ice Kill It?

Putting trout on ice will not kill it, but it might cause it to go into shock. The fish will continue to live for some time which might stress the meat. That’s why it’s best to kill the trout quickly after catching and gutting it before putting it on ice.

Can You Keep Fresh Trout in the Fridge Without Freezing them?

You can keep fresh trout in the fridge without freezing them. It should stay fresh for several days, depending on the temperature. However, if you’re not going to cook the trout soon, it’s best to move it to the freezer to keep it fresh for more time, up to 3 months longer.

Outdoorskilled’s Favorite Picks for Trout Fishing

Trout can be tricky, but with the right gear, it can be a lot simpler and a lot easier. After testing dozens of rods, reels, lines, baits, and lures, here are our all-time, tried-and-tested picks for exceptional results with Trout.

The Okuma Celilo rod deserves to sweep my top spot for its 8’6″ model. If you like having extended casting (who doesn’t?), and lightweight rods with high-quality materials, this is the one that will provide your best trout fishing experience ever!

Moreover, it’s also affordable, so even if finances are tight, there’ll be no worries about being able to get yourself some new gear right away – just buy another couple of these babies before they run out!”

As for reels, the Pflueger President spinning reel is a great choice for anyone looking to get the most out of their fishing trip. With an affordable price and impressive features like graphite gears, this reel is the go-to option for all pro Trout Anglers.

As for lines, there’s no better option than the Berkley Vanish for Trout fishing. It’s strong, affordable, and invisible for Trout.

For bait, Scented baits do a much better job of attracting trout, and while you can make your own Scented baits, I believe everyone should at least try Powerbait’s scented baits to see how much of a difference they can make. I recommend testing out the Garlic Power Bait for Trout for yourself first.

Level Up your Trout Fishing

Helpful Resources

Trout Fishing Basics

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