Lake Michigan fishing charters are a wonderful way for you and your family to experience the splendor of northern Michigan. You came, you did battle you, made memories that will last for a life time. Now that you are home regaling the fish stories, sore arms, full of sun, short on sleep, A cooler of fresh fish needs be taken care care of. Follow the steps bellow and you will have tasty eats for months to come.
Preparing your fillets for the freezer
Step 1 – Fill the sink with cold water and let the fresh fillets soak for a few minutes. When your catch was cleaned at the dock they were bulk packaged for your trip home. Wash them thoroughly and place them in a clean bowl.
Step 2 – At this point I usually take the time to to a quick trim job on the fillets. Remove any extra belly fat, dark meat or bones that were missed while cleaning at the dock. Cut the fillets into manageable portions for cooking.
Step 3 – Decide the right serving size for your family. For my family its just me and the wife so we package two to three servings. Do you have 3 teenage boys at home? you will want to plan for that.
There are several ways to freeze your fish. In my opinion Simple is usually the most effective.
In water – Place a meal sized portion of fish in a freezer bag, quart sized or gallon sized. Place your fillets in the bag and arrange so they lay flat. Fill the bag with water until the fillets are covered in Water, don’t fill the bag any more than 80% full as the water will expand when frozen. Seal the bag, Lay on a flat cookie sheet, place them in the freezer. After several hours you can remove the cookie sheet and arrange them in your freezer. If you place them on a freezer rack before they are frozen the bags will form to the freezer and make it difficult to remove them. Your fillets will remain fresh this way safe from freezer burn for up to a year, but best eaten in less than 6 months.
Vacuum sealing – You can simply follow the manufacturers directions, but here is a tip to make a stronger seal. Clean and portion your fillets as described above. Place them on a cookie sheet and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the fillets are firm. Place the semi frozen fillets in vacuum bags and vacuum seal. Place in the freezer. This process helps reduce moisture while vacuum sealing, moisture will make the seal fail over time and expose your fillets to freezer burn. A quality vacuum job will preserve the fillets for up to 2 years, although I recommend using within 6 months.
Single serving – If you are the type person that eats fish frequently but never knows who is coming for dinner, this way might be for you. Clean and portion your catch as described above. Pat dry with a paper towel. Wrap your fillets individually with plastic wrap, also called cellophane. When you have wrapped all of your fillets place them in gallon sized freezer bags, seal and place in the freezer. This way is great for single servings and or different serving sizes. Your catch should last 3 to 6 months with this method.
Alternates to Freezing
Canning – My great aunt Ginny (now gone forever) canned many quarts of salmon in her day, Martin the love of her life was the fish cleaner at Croton Dam for many years. Every evening he would snag a stringer full as he told polish jokes to any one who would listen. Most canners come with instructions on how to can salmon, I follow those directions.
Canning can be a little time consuming but it offers a great way to preserve your fish for many months to come.
Clean your fish and cut into pieces that will easily fit into canning jars. Add 1 table spoon of ketchup and 1 table spoon on vinegar to each jar. Wash your jars in hot water. Fill the jars with fish leaving 1 inch of head space in the jar. Clean the jar top with a clean dish rag and place the lids and rings on tightly.
Place the jars in your pressure cooker, add a dash of vinegar to the pot along with the recommended level of fresh water. Pressure cook at 11 pounds for 100 minutes. Release the steam and carefully place the jars on a clean towel. Allow to cool for several hours occasionally tightening the rings. You should hear the tops seal. Store in a cool dark place.
There are many delicious recipes that can be made from canned salmon.
Smoking – Smoking fish Is a fun way to preserve your catch. The methods and processes are as varied as good BBQ. Different and some time secrete recipes produce tasty fish treats that last for months, and can be used in many different ways.
Brine salmon chunks overnight in a metal container, keeping refrigerated. Pre heat the smoker and fill with hickory chips. (I soak my chips before I smoke fish) Smoke for 6 to 12 hours depending on the thickness of your fillets. It usually take 2 to 3 pans of chips. Place the largest fillets closest to the heat. Let cool and enjoy. You can freeze smoked fish for enjoyment at a later time as well.
Captains favorite – If you are like me and enjoy fresh fish, I rarely eat frozen fish or sea food ( I know a guy). Call your family, friends and neighbors and have an old fashion fish fry!
No matter witch way you choose to preserve you Lake Michigan Charter Fishing catch, you are sure to have delicious eats for months to come. Book your next charter fishing trip today!
- April 14, 2023