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Cheap small cool box suggestion?

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Fishstab

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Jun 16, 2020
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Currently when shore diving, any fish I catch I’m wrapping up in anything I can find (carrier bag etc) to bring home. I do have a cool box I use for camping but it’s enormous and some of the locations I’m going to involved me parking up a mile+ away and carry all my kit down.

id like to get a small cool box that can fit a few fish in, I’m hunting bass, mullet, pollack and flatties in the the U.K. so nothing enormous. There’s some cheap ones on eBay but I’m a bit unsure on what litre size I should go for. Does anyone here do anything similar or have any other techniques for getting their catch back?
 

Diving Gecko

shooter & shooter
Jun 24, 2008
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Check out Ryan Myers’ YouTube channel. In the latest few videos he has had a really cool float - like a roto molded mini kayak - that’s supposedly marketed as a “beer cooling device” mostly;-). I think it’s a double shell so a bit insulated and a good size for maybe up to 5kg fish or a tad less. Ryan mentions he is a dealer for it in the US.
I don’t have a brand name or price nor do I have one but I thought it looked like a really cool option for shore diving. So, if you are already using a float and if there’s a way to rig this with straps for the hike it might work for you.
Or check out a Banks Board - they had/have straps for carrying.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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I don't cool my catch, even not at home. Bit I don't catch what I can't eat within say three days and I do kill, gill, bleed and gut it as quickly as possible, making sure that every tiny bit of gut of blood is gone. Sun/wind/salt-drying bigger catches.

I did read an interesting observation from a spearo somewhere, he said that fish that is caught in warmer water on a hit day spoils far less quickly that when caught on a cold day. Exactly the opposite of what you'd expect.

Perhaps you can use a double thermo-bag. The ones they sell at the supermarket to keep your beer or ice-cream cool on your walk home. Put in some cans of cold beer at home, to double as cold element and as support for the walk back. :)
 

J Campbell

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Sep 17, 2001
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"Perhaps you can use a double thermo-bag. The ones they sell at the supermarket to keep your beer or ice-cream cool on your walk home. Put in some cans of cold beer at home, to double as cold element and as support for the walk back " We use the plastic "bubble wrap" themo bags when going to the beach. Use two, one inside the other to increase insulation. They work great, easy to smoosh into odd spaces, and when they get nasty or worn out just throw them away.
 
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Mr. X

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I just keep a cooler in the car, with a large plastic bag and ice packs. Ice slurry (e.g. ice and seawater) woul be better but not as convenient. I don't take anything to the beach itself. If I did, might try one of the big Lidl insulated shopping bags.

I tend to gut fish while I'm in the sea these days. Often immediately after shooting the fish. Good chum. Probably not a bad idea to scale them before leaving the sea but I've yet to try that.

I sometimes I carry fish from the beach in a wet Rob Allen net bug bag. That might help a little I suppose.
 
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DiveHacker

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Jun 17, 2020
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I was looking for a cooler bag like this too but i finally realized I have this camelback double insulated chute water bottle. I fill it with ice. I can drink water from it of course, so it does double duty. It does not leak. But I leave that in a part of my backpack only for fish, and it does not cool off "good" because that water bottle insulates so well, but if left in there all day it does cool off. I have to haul home fish on buses and minivans for hours and it works well enough.

I have always felt it is understated how strong bleeding, gilling and gutting a fish and leaving it in the saltwater is. I could be wrong about that? But if i'm not, just fish as long as possible and then make the mad dash home :)
 
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DiveHacker

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Jun 17, 2020
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Oh and the other thing I have been toying with is buying a larger dry bag and just leaving a little mini soft cooler at the bottom of it. But, I think this setup would cost a decent amount and would not provide too much benefit over what I am currently doing.
 

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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I think bleeding and gutting is indeed the major factor for preventing spoilage. Blood, especially medium-warm blood, is the perfect environment for bacteria.

Today we are spoiled by the invention of fridges, freezers, ice dispensers... But not so long ago ice was as rare as a purple unicorn. Have some Google-time researching the many different preservation methods, from simple drying to underground storage rooms and the off-radiating of heat to the clear night sky. Many techniques are still being practised today.

A few years ago I had to cut expenses everywhere in order to make it to the next month. My fridge was amongst my targets. It turned out that the only thing that would really spoil outside of the fridge was... well nothing really. Only stuff that already got infected with something needs cooling. Of course, after a day the fish starts to dry out, so it won't look 'fresh', but unless you are a restaurant owner that shouldn't be a problem.

Freezing for long-term preservation does have its value though.

I am looking for a portable cooling method too, but only because people have a certain expectation about what a fresh fish looks like. I need to distribute the lionfish I catch, and a shiny, soft and floppy fish gets more attention then one slightly hardened by the sun. So in my case it's just about the impression.
 
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Mr. X

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To bleed it, cut the gills.

One very thorough Japanese video on youtube shows a multi-stage iki jime process that involves cutting the gills while the heart is still beating (I think after spiking the brain, apparently the heart does not stop immediately), then cutting vertically across the peduncle (let's make that the word of the day!). This rear cut was to prevent venous blood returning to the heart I think. Then finally running a wire up the spinal column; with this process they start the wire at the penduncle cut rather than the more common approach of starting immediately behind the head (which would require a cut at the head).

At sea, cutting the gills is straightforward. The second (penduncle) cut is pnot essential but perhaps worth a try? Haven't tried the second cut yet but I plan to, now that I have better knives. Wiring the spine seems OTT for a diver bobbing about with a freshly speared fish but perhaps something that could be done on board some boats perhaps? If you have a super yacht you probably already have a well qualified sushi chef on board who can take care of it for you ;) :D
 

Andrew the fish

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Oct 17, 2010
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I have seen cooler backpacks made by Ripcurl for sale at surfing store, but man is it ever expensive, and might not last very long with the rough use and fish spikes and washing each time. All I am using at the moment is a BARE mesh backpack. It is lightweight and well made. In my fishing spots there is often quite a bit of hiking involved, and some elevation too, mesh backpack works well for carrying my catch. I am ok with washing the fish slime afterward, much easier than would be a rock climbing with an ice box and beer cans "for cooling".
 
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Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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To bleed it, cut the gills.
I read that cutting the gills on only one side works better than both sides. But I haven't taken the time yet to find out why. Lionfish hunting isn't like normal spearfishing where you have an awesome catch now and then; it's conveyor belt work. Dive, spike, despine, brain, gills, next! No time for anatomical research.
They bleed out well with just a quick cut of one of the gills. Some blood stays in the tail however. This is where that 2nd cut would come into play, but it's only like two drops of blood. And pressing the tail after gutting pushes out all that leftover blood anyway.
 

DiveHacker

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Jun 17, 2020
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Cutting the gills on each side of the fish into two pieces as opposed to removing them completely?
I was taught to rip them out completely, especially if you have gloves on. I have no idea if this is best. My money is on whatever those Japanese guys do but I am not into the wire thing, too much trouble.
 

DivingNomad

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Sep 21, 2015
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I was taught to rip them out completely, especially if you have gloves on. I have no idea if this is best. My money is on whatever those Japanese guys do but I am not into the wire thing, too much trouble.

If you remove them completely, will that make the fish bleed faster and completely vs. just cutting the gills?
 

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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I think bleeding and gutting is indeed the major factor for preventing spoilage. Blood, especially medium-warm blood, is the perfect environment for bacteria.

...

Of course, after a day the fish starts to dry out, so it won't look 'fresh', but unless you are a restaurant owner that shouldn't be a problem.
Ok, I just had three fish spoil. But I was so exhausted when I came home that I completely forgot to cut them into fillets this morning. Fillets dry in no time here, but with the fish being complete, I think the skin trapped the moisture,which enabled bacteria to grow. That is 24 hours since I got out of the water in 30°C weather, and they were in the shadow not in the full sun (another mistake). They still smell edible, but they're definitely on their way out.

So for the coolbox suggestion I'd say that cooling the fish for the ride home might not be necessary, but once at home do cool or eat them, or if no cooling dry them asap.
 
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