I am currently in Denmark without access to a car. During the weekend I use the bus to go to some remote coastal place in order to fish. It takes 1 hour to reach that place. I carry one rod with me and some food/tackle inside a backpack.

Because coolers are really heavy to carry by hand, when I catch a fish, I release it. However, sea trout is really tasty here in Denmark, so I would like to be able to bring one with me back home.

From what I read online, the best way to preserve a fish is to gut it immediately and throw it in a cooler packed with ice. Another option is to keep it alive as long as possible, but the fish will have to die before I leave, which means it would have to be dead inside my backpack for at least an hour that I need to reach home.

To me it sounds that I need to buy a cooler no matter what. The weather these days is 15C/59F. I usually spend 5-6 hours fishing. Could I preserve my fish fresh by buying one of these bag coolers they sell online, for example this one?

Has anyone tried these types of bag coolers before? How was your experience? What other options do I have?

  • Pack it in salt. Hundreds of years ago they used to transport fish caught off the coast of America all the way back to Europe preserved in salt. – ShemSeger Oct 4 '18 at 14:44
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    @ShemSeger the it would be salt preserved not fresh. – James Jenkins Oct 4 '18 at 15:03
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    Do you need to carry ice with you both way, or can you buy ice between the place you catch the fish and where you get on the bus? – James Jenkins Oct 4 '18 at 15:04
  • Unfortunately where I am going now I would have to carry ice with me both ways. – ksm001 Oct 4 '18 at 16:04
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    @ksm001 Blue ice as in my answer should last both ways. – paparazzo Oct 4 '18 at 16:05

If you are going with a cooler in your scenario, I would get a soft sided cooler with wheels Random Example on Amazon I have one at home that folds up nicely, the example I used has a hard insert. I would keep the fish alive as long as possible, related: How long can fresh water fish live on a stringer?

Fish are fairly hardy, and may stay alive for prolonged times, You can take them out of the water, freeze them and they may still be alive when you defrost them. Related sister site post you could try brining them home alive in the cooler, they may flop around a bit and startle others on the bus, it is questionable if this is humane.

An hour for a freshly dead animal is not long. You could go completely without ice, as long as you kill and gut the fish just before you leave. Using ice or something cool is a good choice though. If there is a store nearby where you can buy bagged ice that works, alternately get a cold six pack of beverages, put them in the cooler with your fish, then put the fish and the beverages in the refrigerator when you get home.

  • You don't need that large of cooler for sea trout. They are 30-35 cm and without head and tail 20-30 cm. All that surface area is just more heat transfer. Cooler should be sized to the contents. – paparazzo Oct 4 '18 at 16:11

That soft cooler with blue ice it should be fine. During the day store it in the shade if you can. You could even store a sandwich and drinks on the way there.

Search Amazon for blue ice freezer pack.

Gut it before packing it. Pack fish in a sealed plastic bag. If you skin the fish then I would do it there also. Pack a smaller volume requires less cooling.


You shouldn't even need a cooler, or ice. A bass bag should be enough. You wet it and as the water evaporates the fish is kept cool enough, allegedly!

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    And a fresh fish in cool weather does not need much cooling anyway. It is not likely to be 35C /100F weather. – Willeke Oct 7 '18 at 19:46

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