How long can a fish be in the freezer?
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Author Topic: How long can a fish be in the freezer?  (Read 2653 times)
7-Point
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« on: December 28, 2008, 09:29:02 PM »

I know this question has been asked before but I'm having trouble finding the answer in the archives. How long can a fish stay in the freezer untill it can no longer be mounted? And what is the best way to freeze a fish?
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Brando24
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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2008, 09:42:27 PM »

i did one that had been in the freezer for four years! it was a pain in the butt.
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Michael F
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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2008, 09:45:03 PM »

I just did one that was in the freezer 3 yrs. Coudal tail was freezer burnt bad and snapped off. I was able to fix it fine and it turned out great
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JUST FISH
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2008, 11:05:32 PM »

If it is wrapped up right a fish will stay good a very, very, very long time. What's wrapped up right you ask.  A wet towel, not just damp, wet, wrapped carefully around the fish and then placed inside a plastic bag, remove the air, tape shut. This prevents freezer burn, some how. I have done my own personal fish after being in the freezer for 5 years and no problems. 
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fishstuffer
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« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2008, 12:24:06 AM »

i have did fish many 10 plus years...  did a salmon that was in a freezer for 12 and not in a bag, it was about a 15lb fish but only weighed about 5lbs when i did it. it was so frezer burnt that it couldent even bend.. i injected some soapy water into it all over and was able to skin it out and after it was sitting in my pickle-tanning bath for a few days it was just like a fresh fish..
i would think if a fish was wraped in a wet towel and plastic baged like the above post it would keep for a long time..and if the fish was taken out every 5 years or so and the towel wetted again a LONG time.......  some cold water fish get greese burned on the side they are sitting on after a few years..
i have never had a fish that was too freezer burnt to mount..
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John C
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« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2008, 08:13:39 AM »

The years dont matter. I mounted a crappie that was totally dry, soaked it in Dawn and water, skinned cutting the main body out then soaking the rest of the tail and final cleaning after a day in the soapy water. left the body on the counter stuck on a nail for over 5 months thru the summer and no smell. It had been in the freezer without any wrapping for 14 years.
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GBRUCH
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« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2008, 08:15:55 AM »

A wet towel.  Come on guys lets advance field care with our taxidermy skills!

Marty is right the more things change the more they stay the same.
George Roof here is another example of the darkside you are talking about.  

For all those that like wrapping in a wet towel could you please do a tutorial on how to mold fish parts that look natural from that wrapped fish.  

If you ever plan on molding fish fins, head, or the entire fish do yourself a big favor and don't wrap the speciman in a wet towel until it is first frozen.
you can place the fish in the freezer first dusted with borax or glazed with water and once frozen then wrap in a wet towel but if you wrap in a towel first you will struggle to get a nice cast part of the fish---that is if you wish to do so.  I also agree with fishstuffer the wet towel without an exterior wrap in plastic or another airtight material will simply help to dry out your speciman.  
I know, I know your not gonna mold any of the parts but If your gonna wrap it up then why not leave your options open--who knows you may decide that this is the fish your gonna try molding the head of off.

Now to answer the original question if stored properly several years in the freezer is possible although I would recommend less than 1 year for a variety of reasons.   
« Last Edit: December 29, 2008, 08:31:21 AM by GBRUCH » Logged

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Gary Bruch
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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2008, 12:34:11 PM »

I am working on a Chinook right now that's been in the freezer for 22 years, thats right....22 years!!!
The customers son caught it when he was a kid but they didn't have the money to have it mounted at the time. So he froze it suspended completely in water in several water tight bags and kept in solid ice all this time.
They had forgotten about it all this time until recently after the mans son died. He decided to finally get it mounted to remember his son.
It thawed out as nice as a fresh fish. The only thing different is it had a much stronger salmon odor, probably from the oils never fully freezing.

So properly prepared, a fish can stay frozen almost indefinitely.
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Jknuth
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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2008, 03:27:00 PM »

A wet towel.  Come on guys lets advance field care with our taxidermy skills!

Marty is right the more things change the more they stay the same.
George Roof here is another example of the darkside you are talking about. 

For all those that like wrapping in a wet towel could you please do a tutorial on how to mold fish parts that look natural from that wrapped fish. 

If you ever plan on molding fish fins, head, or the entire fish do yourself a big favor and don't wrap the speciman in a wet towel until it is first frozen.
you can place the fish in the freezer first dusted with borax or glazed with water and once frozen then wrap in a wet towel but if you wrap in a towel first you will struggle to get a nice cast part of the fish---that is if you wish to do so.  I also agree with fishstuffer the wet towel without an exterior wrap in plastic or another airtight material will simply help to dry out your speciman.   
I know, I know your not gonna mold any of the parts but If your gonna wrap it up then why not leave your options open--who knows you may decide that this is the fish your gonna try molding the head of off.

Now to answer the original question if stored properly several years in the freezer is possible although I would recommend less than 1 year for a variety of reasons.   



I agree 100% Gary.
The towel does work to seal it, but it also leaves dents on the skin and can cause color blotching.
I Always tell my customers to freeze the fish FLAT on a board (on Waxpaper) in the freezer, then glaze it a few times with cold water.
then wrap it.
and what ever you do DONT USE A VACUUM SEALER!!!!!!!!
That will ruin a good speciman faster then anything.
Those bags leave little dents on the skin head and fins.

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Ross Vogler
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« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2008, 03:47:47 PM »

I am working on a Chinook right now that's been in the freezer for 22 years, thats right....22 years!!!
The customers son caught it when he was a kid but they didn't have the money to have it mounted at the time. So he froze it suspended completely in water in several water tight bags and kept in solid ice all this time.
They had forgotten about it all this time until recently after the mans son died. He decided to finally get it mounted to remember his son.
It thawed out as nice as a fresh fish. The only thing different is it had a much stronger salmon odor, probably from the oils never fully freezing.

So properly prepared, a fish can stay frozen almost indefinitely.

I'm sorry........I'm sure it sounds bad too, but who the hell needs a mounted fish to remember their kids? LMAO
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FishArt
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« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2008, 04:17:38 PM »

LOL - how ironic!

Since I don't do any casting other than possibly a salmon or trout head (IF I can't find a size through Gary's or Caribou's), I recommend a soaking wet towel. This also helps keep potential customers from going to others that cast a lot of parts as now they HAVE to go to me then - lol! Seriously, As mentioned, the wet towel creates a water barrier that most fish can stay in quite a long time with no ill effects. Other than some minor towel marks if there's a pattern to the towel. Keep in mind that for most warmwater species any towel marks will disappear before mounting and/or casting IF there's any there in the first place. Now, IF I were concerned about marks and wanted to do some castings I would probably recommend wrapping the fish in saran wrap first - a lot of it to seal out any air. Then, a garbage bag or two along with taping and squeezing all the air out.

BUT, (and this is a HUGE "but"), keep in mind you want to K.I.S.S. I believe an old towel is much more convenient for most customers to keep in their boat if and when they do catch that trophy. Once caught it's pretty simple to dip the towel in the water and roll that fish right up into it, tucking in all the fins and into the cooler it goes. This also keeps the fish from damaging itself from flopping around. Unless you've pre-screened potential customers for any more involved methods, I think the wet-towel method is pretty tough to beat - outside of delivering the fish alive via a livewell. I simply don't trust or expect most customers to do much more than this. Heck, even with this info on my website I still get half the folks bringing me fish with fins carded out, on a board or dry newspaper around them. And, just about every salmon or trout head I cast the marks have disappeared after thawing or were never there in the first place. So, unless you're casting the whole fish - specifically a salmon or trout, I see no reason to poo-poo the wet towel method. It works...
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"FishArt"
Marty Shimkus
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Jim F
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« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2008, 04:47:16 PM »


I'm sorry........I'm sure it sounds bad too, but who the hell needs a mounted fish to remember their kids? LMAO

Different strokes for different folks.
Maybe when you grow up, you'll learn that..."LMAO"  ::)
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Catch n release are for those who cant handle a little blood n guts!

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GBRUCH
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« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2008, 08:13:13 PM »

Marty you really need to give your customers abit more credit and a bit more education. 

Marty If you can get the terry cloth impression to disappear on your fish head casts your either not getting good detail or you need to do a tutorial on yoour fantastic technique cause terry towels cause poo-poo casts my friend!




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"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord,not for men" ......Colossians 3:23 
God has greatly enriched our lives with beauty. And we in turn express our gratitude by displaying his glory in our art. -- Julia Ackerman link

Gary Bruch
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FishArt
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« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2008, 08:34:49 PM »

Gary, I've only cast a couple dozen heads in my career and I can remember only one that had some small impressions in it from the towel. I think - if the towel is soaking wet then there's less of a chance of a pattern being there from the towel. I don't recall seeing those marks on that one fish after casting,  but then again, I'm not holding my mounts to the standard that you are. They were probably there if you looked close enough.

I don't think educating my customers differently is the answer because I don't do that many coldwater fish annually to begin with to warrant any different method. Plus, I'm not casting the whole fish like some of you are doing. So, having the wet towel method on my website IS already educating them for the type of work I do. If you're using the real head as in warmwater fish, any impressions go away during the mounting process. I just can't see too many customers taking the time to place their fish on a board and water it down and then finding a freezer big enough to accomodate the now bigger package. And, I don't want to take up my freezer space with the bulkier stuff when a more compact, wet towel does the trick. I also don't want to re-package everything if I don't have to. I'll take the less damage from the fish flopping around (that the wet towel method helps prevent) any day of the week over (possibly) having some minor marks imprinted on the cheek of a salmon head cast. But again, I haven't had to cast a salmon or trout head in a couple of years now. So, for me it would really be quite silly to change because I've already found the best way to wrap the fish for my type of work...
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"FishArt"
Marty Shimkus
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Shorewood, Illinois
www.FishSpecialties.NET
Pescado
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« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2008, 09:45:21 AM »

I guess in a perfect world, every customer that brings me their fish to mount would have had the sense to call me before they froze their fish. In over 20 years I can count on my fingers how many fish have been brought to me fresh where I had the opportunity to freeze them. I chose to wrap most of those in a dripping wet towel,followed by newspaper and then tightly wrapped in plastic. For most fish that is still my preferred method. Thin skinned brookies and smaller browns get t-shirt or old flannel, but they are they exception. Molding anything that has been in the freezer has it's challenges regardless of how it was wrapped, but I have yet to see any problems with fins retaining impressions from being frozen in a towel. Heads and bodies, well that is a different story, usually a few days in cold water takes care of the head. The body is not a problem for me because I skin and mount before molding.

 As far as the original question I have had warm water fish frozen for over ten years and had them mount up fine. I have had some trout with the "grease bleed" problem after only a couple years. I have a 14lb coho that has been in the freezer since 92', will be interesting to see what it looks like.

 PB
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Paul Borkowski
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