Crappies : Catching, Preparing, Freezing
Crappie fishing has become a favorite pastime for fishermen in the United States due to the abundance of this species.
Crappie can be found in many of the ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers across the country. The best times for fishing crappie are during the spawn time, which occurs in early spring. They can be found near the shore and easily baited with minnows.
After the catch some people release them back into the waters. Other people may choose to keep them to cook later as a meal. Certain species of fish are known to spoil quicker than others. Freshwater fish can last longer in a live well, whereas saltwater fish may die or spoil quicker if not scaled and placed on ice. It is best to be prepared with the knowledge of how to catch, prepare, and freeze crappie so to not end up with a spoiled fish when it’s time to cook.
When you clean a fish, the best idea is to make sure that you do not puncture the intestines or leave behind the fat beneath the skin which could contain contaminants. These steps can help you ensure that you are cleaning the fish correctly.
- Take a knife and insert it in the vent of the fish, then proceed to cut up from the belly all the way to the head. Keep the knife at a shallow distance so that you are not puncturing the guts of the fish.
- Take the body and spread it out to remove any and all of the inside guts or entrails. Some of this may have to be done with the use of a spoon.
- Cleanly cut the head off.
- Rinse the entirety of the crappie’s body in cool, clean water.
- Wrap the cleaned body in ice and place it into an ice chest or cooler. If you are near your home, you can also place it in the freezer surrounded by ice.
Remember that when using an ice chest or cooler the ice may melt a little. It is recommended that you drain any water out of the chest or cooler before placing clean fish on ice in them. With melted ice at the bottom of the cooler it could cause the fish to spoil.
Crappie Freezing Tips
Some fishermen enjoy catching and releasing, but others may choose to feed themselves or their family with the day’s catch. When doing this, they might freeze more for a later date. When freezing crappie that has already been cleaned and prepared for cooking, it is best to have a vacuum tight package, although airtight freezer bags or wraps can also do the trick. When removing the package to thaw, do so in cool to cold water for the best results. By using hot water or room temperature water you could possibly spoil the fish before you are able to cook it.
When freezing crappie, always remember to write the date you caught and froze the fish on your package so you know how long it has been in the freezer and if it has surpassed the expected expiration date. Cooking and serving expired fish can not only make people sick, but it can also turn off people to eating that type of fish again in the future. Keep in mind that oily fish will go bad after a few months in the freezer, whereas white fish will last up to three months or longer if packaged correctly. With anything, the smaller it is the quicker it is going to freeze, and this applies for small fish as well. The deterioration process will be slowed once the fish has been frozen.