I know this might sound like something everyone knows, but I still see people let their bait cook in the sun and put their fish in coolers with not enough ice.
I think bait is the most important commodity that fishermen ignore. We tend to put it out on a cutting board, and then after we take a piece of squid or alewife, we leave the rest of the bait to the sun and the flies. Not good.
The best we can do is use a bait board small enough to fit inside of the bait cooler. After cutting off the piece we need (God forbid we cut up the rest of the bait for our fellow anglers), place the bait board with the bait back in the cooler. Another method, that I believe I mentioned in a previous article, is to give each fisherman a small cooler with the bait already cut up inside.
The very least you should do is cover the bait board with a wet towel. Soak the towel in the water from the Bay or ocean or better yet, the ice melt from the cooler. Keep the towel wet with frequent soakings.
The best way to keep your catch cold is with a slurry of ice and water. Use lots of ice and an equal amount of water. Mix the two together in your cooler and then drop in the fish. They will chill through in a very short amount of time. This not only keeps the fish fresh, but also makes them much easier to clean.
Then we have the coolers. The newer models will keep ice for at least a week and cost a considerable amount of money. If you are using your cooler to keep fish and bait, you will have to clean it after every trip, so keeping ice for a week has no advantage. On the other hand, if you are storing food for an extended trip, then having ice that will last a long time is advantageous. The choice is up to you and your pocketbook.
By Eric Burnley