Kill bag VS. cooler

r8rs4lf

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Jun 17, 2017
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Tree Juan ho
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Al
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Salty AF
I recently started to fillet my own fish. So that means being able to bring whole fish home which in turn means that I need something big to haul the catch home. I live in Long Beach and go out of San Diego and the Oxnard/Ventura area alot so there's about a 2 hour drive back and forth.

I have that big @$$ white cooler that everyone uses for parties. You know the one that has broken hinges from drunk @$$ family members yanking on them. You member! Anyways, I got no problem buying another one to replace the one I would take strictly for fish. They are pretty reasonable at Costco/Sam's.

Are the kill bags better? I know they come in a variety of sizes and are easier to travel with as they fold up. I've read that they all leak though. How about keeping the catch fresh? Does one hold ice better? How about in direct sunlight like in the bed of my truck because I'm sure not going to carry a kill bag that leaks inside my truck.

Would one be better if I decide to purchase a boat?

Opinions on one VS. the other?
 

Arima-bob

Ship faced aquaholic
Mar 9, 2012
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uh....
If you're only fishing party boats, I would suggest keeping a cooler. Kill bags in general will leak. They can be modified to not leak, but it's work to do it, and if it rolls over.... yup.

Now, if you have your own boat... different story. I think a kill bag is wonderful on a boat. If it leaks, who gives a shit. You got bilge pumps anyway. It might even help clean fish blood.
 

chxh8me

Anchovy Slayer
Jul 20, 2010
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You can most likely buy stainless steel replacement hinges and snap closures for your big white cooler (assuming it’s a major brand) if they need to be replaced.
Unless you have a truck, I’d avoid the kill bags for now. The seams can potentially leak. They’re great for private boats, but unecessary for hauling fish home from a party boat.
Regular coolers are easier to clean, as well.


Edit....
In summary, I second exactly what arima bob posted while I was in the middle of typing this.
 

surfgoose

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Jul 29, 2010
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whichever has the longest bunk
Coolers are superior for your purpose. But think about moving the cooler, lifting it into and out of your truck. I bring three smaller coolers with me, and although I now have them filled at 5 Star, they carried a lot of fish for a lot of years, and are not too heavy or bulky to bring into the kitchen and put next to the sink and go to work. Or now, put next to the chest freezer in the garage and go to work.
 

sdfishkiller

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Mar 13, 2005
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Kill bags suck, all the ice is on the bottom and the hot fish are on top.
 

invictus

AVD
May 26, 2006
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2 hour drive, your big cooler is just fine, particularly if your fish have been in an RSW, already solid and lowers your total cooler weight via less ice.

If you buy a boat, depends on the boat IMO. Center consoles usually need a cooler for a seat, but a swim step is perfect for a kill bag and is "scale-able" to your needs, it only takes up the space needed based on what is in it and can be stowed out of the way, a cooler, not so flexible. Bags are also less efficient at keeping ice so the length of your trips can be a factor. in bags, or coolers, slide those babies in face first, under the ice.

I honestly don't like bags inside my Tahoe, but if I had a truck could give a hoot.
 

SeaHawk IV

I've posted enough I should edit this section
Jan 15, 2008
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.....
No boat, stick with a hard cooler like others mentioned above.

I use a 165 quart cooler for all fish that fits. Also keep a fish bag folded up as a back up for bigger fish when targeting bigger Yellowtails, Tunas, etc. But I avoid putting Rockfish in the fish bag because they can poke holes inside and ruin the bag.
 
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JoshInSD

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Dec 22, 2015
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Save your money and buy these to fix your existing cooler. I keep the large white Costco cooler in my truck until end of the day and then toss all the ice and fish in when back to the ramp. Rinse and repeat.

Igloo Cooler Replacement Hinges, (Set of 3) - Unbreakable, Repurposed Fire Hose Amazon product
Igloo Cooler Replacement Latch - Unbreakable, Repurposed Fire Hose Amazon product
 

r8rs4lf

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Jun 17, 2017
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Tree Juan ho
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Thanks for the insight guys.
 

fishja

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https://www.homedepot.com/p/Rubbermaid-150-Qt-Marine-Cooler-FG2B8001TRWHT/202260813

I have this cooler and absolutely love it. Long enough to fit most of what you catch on 3/4 day boats out of SD and deep enough to put 30#’s of ice on the bottom, add your fish, and cover the top in ice. One thing I love about it is the handles. No breaking them and you can lock it in the back of your truck if needed.

Mine is the older one without the ice holders at the top but I’ve sent this to several friends and they all bought one and love em! I thought I had a photo of it jugged with fish but I can’t find it. I can fit roughly 7 12-18# yellows in it.
 

Recoil Rob

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Nov 7, 2015
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Never buy replacement hinges again. Once the originals break keep both haves and use them to hold a piece of 2-3" nylon strapping under them. Put some epoxy in the screw holes too. Most people just trash a cooler when the hinges break, I haven't bought one of these cheap coolers in years, I fix throwaways and use them until the body cracks.
IMG_0572.JPG
 
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Rocket Dog

Tagging and Bagging
Mar 2, 2010
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passenger again
Never buy replacement hinges again. Once the originals break keep both haves and use them to hold a piece of 2-3" nylon strapping under them. Put some epoxy in the screw holes too. Most people just trash a cooler when the hinges break, I haven't bough one of these cheap coolers in years.View attachment 1166047


View attachment 1166047


Good work around for the hinges. As for the OP and bag.... Well let's say the that if it's not a pickup, then you just might have created a permanent fishing vehicle because if it leaks inside getting the smell out is vary hard to do.
 
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yakmandan

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May 30, 2007
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My buddy put a full kill bag in the trunk of his Lexus, never got the smell out. When the car sat in the sun for any length of time it stunk way worse. He eventually sold it for less than it was worth. That being said I keep both an ice chest and a kill bag on the boat. I take my fish to Five star and let them do the filleting and vacuum packing. Ice house is right down the street. I buy dry ice for the drive home to AZ.
 

jer dog

Fishing is life
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My buddy put a full kill bag in the trunk of his Lexus, never got the smell out. When the car sat in the sun for any length of time it stunk way worse. He eventually sold it for less than it was worth. That being said I keep both an ice chest and a kill bag on the boat. I take my fish to Five star and let them do the filleting and vacuum packing. Ice house is right down the street. I buy dry ice for the drive home to AZ.
Walmart has extreme coolers for a good price, and just stock up on bleach at the 99 cents store, to clean them up after,
 

Mk6_Robbie

THE CITADEL
Sep 10, 2016
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I like my Reliable Kill Bag. I haven't had an issue in the way of leaking so much. I prefer the Kill Bag over my cooler because of the space and weight savings. I don't like leaving anything in the bed of my truck at the landings.
 
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Sandydog

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Mar 18, 2017
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To minimize the rate at which heat leaks in, you want to maximize the volume to surface area ratio. That means a sphere is best. Obviously a spherical cooler isn't very practical. A cube is next best. Followed by a rectangular cooler. A kill bag with two large flat sides is actually pretty bad. The only reason we use em (I have one) is because you can squeeze in fish which might be a tad too large to fit in a cooler.

The cheap coolers are good enough for a day's use. They'll hold ice for about 24 hours. If that's all you'll need, then that's good enough. If you're going to leave it in your pickup bed in the sun, look into injecting foam into the lid. Manufacturers usually make the lids hollow to cut down on weight (and make it easier to lift the lid open). So most of the heat ingress will be through the lid. Search YouTube for videos on how to inject foam in the lid.

The more expensive rotomolded coolers like the Yeti have substantially thicker insulation. They'll hold ice for several days, sometimes nearly a week. If you're staying out multiple days at a campsite or on a private boat, you'll probably want one of these.

The kill bags are about as good as cheap coolers for keeping ice (about a day). Even after ice melts, the cold water continues to help keep the contents cool. So the fact that the water leaks out hurts their performance. You can buy insulated bubble bags (like big bubble wrap bags) used by the restaurant industry to deliver food, and stick it inside the kill bag. Or buy a big roll of it and make it yourself if you have plastic sealing equipment. That'll gain you an extra day of ice. It'll also help with the leakage a bit, as the water needs to leak out of the bubble bag first, then the kill bag. It'll help with the smell too, as you can just replace the bubble bag when it starts to get too stinky.

Personally, I mostly use a cheap 165 qt cooler for day trips aboard my boat. I bought the first one about 15 years ago, and only replaced it (one broken hinge, one broken clip) last year when Costco was selling one with a 1/3 width lid on top (in my experience, these are the hardest to find). Very convenient as you can drop in fish without having to open up the entire lid. I keep a kill bag in the boat in case we catch something big, although I use that as primary storage on tuna trips. The only gotcha is that you can't actually lift either of these if they're full of fish (maybe you could with two people). So I've been considering picking up a smaller cooler for shorter trips or when we're going for small fish like bass.
 
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Mar 29, 2010
318
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San Diego
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Rg
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18' Aluminum Starcraft CC
I will freeze 2 one gallon jugs throw the in my 165qt cooler with a 10 lb bag of ice. When I catch fish, bleed them and add about two gallons of water. This way I can keep beer and soda also. As the frozen jugs melt I have fresh ice cold water.
Is keeping fish in the ice water bad or should I not add water?
 

Sandydog

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Is keeping fish in the ice water bad or should I not add water?
Sounds like what my mom said when she saw me towing my boat on a rainy day. "Is it alright if the boat gets wet?" 😆

It's fine keeping fish in ice water as long as it still has its skin on. The skin protects the fish's insides from the water when it's alive. It'll protect it when it's dead. If you've already filleted it, don't expose the fillets directly to water. Seal them in a ziploc bag before putting it in the cooler.

You can add water to ice if you want to distribute the cold better than just laying the fish on top of ice. Just don't add so much water that you melt all the ice. As long as there's still ice, the ice will maintain the water at 32 F / 0 C. (If you use salt water, the water temperature can actually drop below 32 F. That's how long-range boats and some commercial fishing boats store your fish.) Once the ice melts, the water temperature will start to rise, so you want the ice to last until you get home. And as I mentioned above, the chilled water contributes to the cooling, so you actually don't want to drain the water unless absolutely necessary.
 

michael e. bingham

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May 26, 2015
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Pura Vida
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I quit buying the plastic coolers years ago for that reason , broken hinges and latches , I bought a few yetis over the years and thats that no more junk , the probkem is the cost but you only need a couple and you`re done , I have a 250 quart yeti on my back deck to bleed out the fish on ice and some salt water then after a hpur or so they go into a iced down kill bag on my swim step , fish stays nice and cold until we cut them ,
 

aquaholic

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Sep 19, 2003
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Robert
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Anderson 22
I have a Reliable kill bag and love the thing but mostly use it on my boat. I’ve seen other kill bags that don’t work nearly as well as the Reliable. I do use it to run tuna from San Diego back home if I get in too late and don’t want to wait for 5 Star. The Reliables weep more then leak but you can eliminate that by Caulking the sewn joints.
Robert
 

gecsr1

28' Aquasport "Reel Adventure II"
Jul 15, 2005
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It really don't make much difference which one, just have plenty of "ICE"