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3 Surprising Ways to Deal with Fish Carcasses While Camping

3 Surprising Ways to Deal with Fish Carcasses While Camping

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If you enjoy going camping in the great outdoors, then chances are that you also love to fish. Fishing in local rivers and streams is a great way to relax and also to catch a few fish to cook for your family. Fish is a nutritious food that’s in plentiful supply at many camping sites.

One of the problems that many campers have is what to do with the fish carcasses. You may skin and fillet the fish but you’re always left with fish guts and bones.

While some people choose to throw them back into the river, this is not a good idea as the rotten carcasses can build up and cause some species of algae to overgrow as well as pollute the waterways.

One other big problem is that fish carcasses left to build up near camping sites will inevitably attract flies, especially in the warmer weather. The fish remains will not only stink but will then be crawling with flies and maggots.

The last thing that anyone wants in either a solo or shared camping site is rotting fish carcasses nearby that are drawing lots of flies and other critters.

Some Ideas on What to Do with Fish Carcasses

The next time that you’re out fishing in the great outdoors and you have a pile of fish carcasses piling up, here are a few ideas on what to do:

1. Bury the Remains

Rather than discard the fish bones and guts into the lake, it’s a better idea to dig a hole and bury the remains. This keeps them out of local waterways and prevents pollution. They will also decay in the soil and will fertilize the area.

It’s always a good idea to dig a few such holes around your camping site. These will serve to hold any organic waste such as fish heads, fish guts, fish bones, discarded food scraps, and human waste.

2. Use Them as Garden Fertilizer

If you’re truly conscientious, you might want to bag up the fish remains and take them home with you to dispose of. What many people do is to bag up the fish remains tightly and then take them home to be used as garden fertilizer.

Fish remains contain lots of nutrients such as nitrogen and potassium. Using the remains as garden fertilizer will certainly help your plants to flourish.

Just be careful that the fish guts and bones are bagged up very well and sealed very tightly; otherwise, the stench will be overpowering in the car on the way back home from camp.

It might even be a good idea to double- or triple-bag the remains for this reason.

3. Use the Remains in Special Recipes

If you have some culinary skill and a taste for new flavors, you might be interested in using fish remains in cooking. Just because you’ve filleted out the best of the meat doesn’t mean that you can’t still get taste out of the bones.

There are actually plenty of great portable cookers available for camping trips nowadays and if you have a flair for cooking, you might want to try some of these great recipes with your fish remains:

  • Fish stock: Fish stock may not be as common as beef or chicken stock but there’s nothing better than homemade fish stock. It can be used to flavor a wide range of dishes, including risotto and rice. It can also be used as the base for special sauces. To make good fish stock, you’ll need to save all of those fish heads and fish bones. This is far better than buying any fish stock off the shelf in your supermarket and will provide a rich fishy flavor for cooking at home.
  • Fish broth: Likewise, you can also use the fish heads to make a tasty broth. Wash all of the blood off the fish parts first of all, place them in a big cooking pot, run cold water in, and then simmer for at least 30 minutes. You can add onion, celery, and other veggies to add some flavor. Many people simply eat the nutritious broth or use it as a sauce in other recipes.

You might think that fish heads are the worst part of the fish but the truth is that many cultures consider them the best part of the fish. They provide a strong fishy flavor for soup, stock, and broth and many people also enjoy the gelatinous areas, such as the eyes, in cooking and for textural enhancement.

Furthermore, the bones that are left after making such broths can be disposed of quite easily. They will have been heated in a prolonged fashion and will not smell.

Cooking While Camping

Using those fish heads and bones in cooking is one of the best ways to get the most out of the remains. Rather than discarding them, making broths, sauces, and soups can be very rewarding and also very tasty.

These days, there are many portable camping stoves. If you have a flair for cooking and you don’t know what to do with your fish remains, toss them into a cooking pot.

Just make sure that you choose a camping stove with an easily adjustable flame so that you have full control over the simmering process.

Final Thoughts

When you’re out on camp, fishing in local streams, rivers, and other waterways can be a fantastic way to catch enough fish for food for everyone. But the problem is that the fish heads and fish bones can become a real headache. They will start to smell and it’s illegal in many areas to simply toss them back.

The easiest way to dispose of them is to simply bury them in a hole near the campsite. Many people will also bag them up to take home and use them as garden fertilizer.

Perhaps the best way to use the fish remains is to cook them for use a tasty broth, as soup, or in a stew with vegetables and herbs and spices.


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