what to do with fish after a fishing trip

How to Prepare Fish for Your Flight Back Home

It’s the end of your amazing deep-sea fishing trip where you created fantastic memories and caught a ton of fish. Now you need a way to bring it home. Knowing how to do this if you got there by plane might seem impossible, considering the strict TSA rules about what you can bring onboard a flight. 

Luckily, there’s ways to transport your fishy treats home, including on a plane if you’re not inclined to mail it. Not every vacation spot offers a way to prepare and package your fish for travel, so make sure to do some research and know what to do. 

Transporting Fish Yourself

Besides needing your fishing charter or local processing company to prepare your fish for transport, you still have some extra steps to take before it’s ready to be transported on your flight. The first is letting your charter company and crew know you want your fish filleted and prepped for your trip home. 

It’s an essential step so your fishing host can sort your fish from what others have caught, and it usually involves tagging what you catch so it can be processed later. Some captains will fillet your catch but not package it, while others will have your order processed once you get back to dock. Either way, find out ahead of time what services are available and the associated fees so there are no surprises awaiting you. 

Packaging Your Fillets

Whether you’re packaging your own fillets or your charter service is doing it for you, make sure your fish is frozen once it’s been prepared. If you’re out to sea when filleting, keep the fish on ice until you reach land. Once you’re off the ship, freeze your fish by using dry ice to prevent leakage and thawing. That makes it possible to carry your prepared catch onboard your flight. A few extra guidelines when having your fish packaged for transport include:

  • Make sure your fish are easy to identify and count
  • Help TSA distinguish your fish by leaving a portion of skin on the fillets
  • If a species is difficult to identify, leave the head on it or with its fillets
  • Do not lump all your fillets together in one package; keep them separate and flat

Follow Airline Guidelines

Weight limits matter when it comes to flying, but you need to have enough samples of each species you caught so the TSA can verify what you’re bringing onboard.  While skin can fulfill this requirement, you may need to present a head as well if it’s hard to differentiate. Remember to account for this added weight to your luggage.

The TSA has additional guidelines to ensure your check-in and flight go smoothly:

  • Dry iced packages need to be able to release carbon dioxide gas
  • There is a 5-pound dry ice limit
  • Dry ice packages must have “Carbon Dioxide Solid” or “Dry Ice” clearly marked, along with the weight

You should also have a cooler on hand to carry your dry iced fish, though you may have to pay an additional luggage fee. Depending on your airline, you may have a limited selection of coolers to use since some carriers don’t allow soft-sided cooler bags. Consider calling ahead to the airline to find out what their policies are for transporting frozen fish. Check if any extra charges apply for additional bags or packaging. 

Transporting Fish Through a Processing Company

When planning a deep sea fishing charter in the area around Destin, Florida, having a nearby processing service makes things easier when it comes to transporting your fish home. Some of these companies will meet you at the dock to pick up your catch and take it back for processing. You may even have the option to get steak cuts, as well as fillets with jerking and/or smoking options available. 

Pricing can vary quite a bit. It isn’t the expense of packaging that drives up prices, but the cost of shipping. Fish processing costs can nearly double if you choose a shipping service that delivers your food overnight versus two-day shipping. Then you also have to factor in your shipping destination.

Destin Fishing Charters That Offer Processing Options

Convenience is a key factor when deciding to have your fish processed and shipped to your doorstep without ever bringing it on the plane with you. Determining whether the additional cost is worthwhile is a personal choice. Wanting to catch and eventually eat your fish is a natural part of a deep sea fishing charter experience, and Boggy Bayou Guide Service provides fillet and packaging services for customers.

Boggy Bayou is the premier Destin fishing charter service that dedicates itself to creating the adventure of a lifetime in the deep waters of the Gulf. You won’t regret choosing us for your fishing desires and all the convenient services we offer guests that book with us. Contact us today at 850-499-6644 to learn more about the fillet and packaging services that we offer.


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