Greg "Doc Lures" Vinall
Podcast Host, Lure Maker, Scientist, Educator
Greg has hosted the Australian Lure Fishing Podcast since it started in January 2019.He’s a qualified environmental scientist, lure making educator and tragic lure fisher.
Greg’s Tips For Maximising Fish Eating Qualities
- There is nothing wrong with taking a feed of fish provided you’re doing so legally, sustainably and ethically. Limit your catch, release the big fish and handle the keepers just as carefully as those you release.
- Recreational anglers have the opportunity to experience the highest quality seafood – in most cases far better than anything you’ll buy at the fish markets. This is because we can control and optimise the capture and processing of our fish better than commercial operators can.
- Use appropriate tackle for the purpose. Long, extended fights result in lactic acid building up in the fish’s muscle, which causes the flesh to deteriorate faster and taste inferior. The faster you take a “keeper” from the water and put it on ice, the better the eating qualities.
- Don’t let fish flap around the boat hitting hard surfaces. This causes bruising, which makes the flesh soft and mushy and gives it an inferior flavour. Laying the fish on a soft surface such as a piece of foam will protect it from damage. Euthanise it immediately to end the fish’s suffering and maximise the quality of the flesh.
- Likewise, don’t leave fish that are to be eaten sitting in your live well while you “upgrade” the size. The longer they are in a stressful situation the more their cortisol and adrenaline levels increase, ruining the flavour and speeding up the deterioration of the flesh.
- Ike Jime is the Japanese process for killing and processing fish. A sharp spike through the brain kills the fish instantly, causing all the fins to extend before the fish goes limp. Muscle twitches can still happen even though the fish is dead. Immediately after brain-spiking, the fish’s throat is cut and a couple of cuts are made, one just above the tail on each side. This bleeds out the fish, removing blood that has a tendency to accumulate bacteria and deteriorate flavour and appearance.
- Immediately placing the fish into an ice slurry of 1 part seawater to two parts ice will stop cellular processes, cool muscles and help to set the flesh.
- Once ashore, remove the gut, scale and process the fish on a cool surface, out of the sun. don’t place cleaned fish, fillets or other parts to be eaten back into the slurry. Placing them into ziplock bags or sealed containers before putting them on ice will keep the flesh clean, cool and in prime condition.
- NEVER wash fish at any stage of the process. Work carefully to avoid exposing flesh to juices from the stomach cavity and wipe down/pat dry the flesh with paper towel if necessary. It I especially important that saltwater fish are never exposed to freshwater.
- Shop-bought fish should be eaten within a day or two of capture, but fish prepared as described above are best put into the fridge and eaten 3-4 days after capture. This maturation process improves the flavour and texture of the fish. Keeping them for a week is possible – I’ve heard some people say up to two weeks, but be careful not to overdo it. Food poisoning is no joke.
when talking about fish handling its important to clearly separate cold blooded fish from tunas etc. Using the word fish leads to assumptions that the concept applies to everything. You well describe handling & prep of cold blooded fish. That technique degrades tunas & tunas ( along with all scomber species) have histamine in their skin slime so skinning tuna portions prior to storing/cooking/consumption is important, as histamine poisoning can kill susceptible people. ( cooking does not destroy histamine).
tunas need to be spinal reamed if chilled immediately after capture or rested under wet towel etc until they enter rigor before chilling , otherwise the tuna shiver on chilling & elevate core temp creating more lactic acid & partially “cooking” core meat.
Rec anglers can benefit from improved eating qualities only if they are informed adequately about prep & storage techniques for the different types of fish physiology & not led into missconceptions by incorrect assumptions that all fish are the same.
No need to bleed demersal fish if placed straight into an ice brine. The blood will retract into the internal organs in the gut, leaving the flesh clear of it. Fish in an ice brine will last for quite a few days.
No need to gut fish if you are going to fillet them. It only provides an opportunity for gut bacteria to contaminate the flesh. No need to scale if you skin the fillets.
Another important one is not to bend fish that have rigor mortis. This will tear the muscle fibres and result in mushy flesh. Store fish straight in the esky.
Have a look at Chris Bolton Fishing for what can be achieved with the best handling of fish. Maybe you could interview him?