Whether you are arranging a week-long trip for backcountry fishing in Florida or a fast meal beside your favorite fishing hole, here are a few suggestions to make the most of a fish dinner right on the bank.

Keep the fish fresh until you are ready to cook them.

You can keep your eating fish on a rope-style or metal clip stringer in the water until you are ready to clean them. Clear, cold water keeps them fresh and energetic all day. If you fish in a warmer climate, ensure your fish can access water a foot or two deep to remain cool. Please keep them in a shady spot when possible. If you don’t have cool water access but a cooler full of ice, gut the fish immediately and place them on ice to chill.

Pack your cutting board

Filleting fish on your boat paddle or flat stone is alright, but a cutting board makes the job easier. Try a thin silicone mat that you can roll up in tight spaces or a folding cutting board.

Fish breading and water don’t mix.

Utilize a vacuum sealer to bag up a meal’s worth of your favorite fish breading to cut down on the packaging you need to carry in and out and ensure that the breading is dry when you are prepared to use it. Side dishes like rice or mashed potatoes require the same treatment, so they don’t get wet in a rainstorm or a tipped canoe.

Purchase a regular-sized skillet

If you cook for a crowd, a small camping skillet isn’t large enough to get the job done. So instead, pack a full-sized aluminum skillet. We prefer a non-stick version from a restaurant supply shop for toughness and straightforward clean-up.

Don’t be scared to cook your fish whole.

Fillets are excellent, but there’s lots of waste compared to cooking the whole fish. Cheeks, the throat saddle, and the belly all produce fine eats. Is your fish too large to fit in your skillet? Cut it in half or thirds. Score your meat over the thickest places to let the fish cook faster and make eating it easier.

Store cooking oil in a tough plastic or metal bottle with a screw on top.

Plastic oil bottles from a store are easy to destroy. And that’s a mess nobody wants to clean up. Keep your needed oil in a drink bottle with a tight-fitting cover to keep it from getting broken.

Don’t limit your meal to fried fish.

There’s nothing bad about fried fish. We eat it for many meals on our trips, but there are additional ways to cook fish that are just as delicious. For example, try blackening and bring your favorite flour or corn tortillas to make fish tacos. The tortillas only take up a little room in your pack, and they won’t squish like a loaf of bread.

How will you know when the grease is hot enough? Add a little piece of fish while your oil heats. You are ready to begin cooking when it pops and sizzles. If you have the room, you can always pack a handful of popcorn. Slip a few kernels into the oil. Once they pop, the oil is hot enough to fry.

These are a few tips for cooking fish while backcountry fishing in Florida. Check out our website to plan your trip!