I'm considering getting a fish bag to hold my keepers to replace the hard cooler. The reason for this is to free up the back cargo area for a crate and other tackle so I can keep the deck area in front of me as clear as possible. But I'm finding the search for a suitable bag frustrating. I would like one big enough to fit a slot redfish inside, small enough to fit in the bow of my Hobie Compass, that will hold ice all day, is easy to clean, and will hold up over time, especially the zippers. For whatever reason I'm horrible with zippers, they're always breaking on me! Also - and this is critical - they cannot leak because my catch gets transported inside my Jeep and a leaking bag will create a horrible stench and an angry girlfriend.
So does a suitable bag exist, or do I just stick with the hard cooler?
I have that bag but it's inaccessible right now.... it can fit 15lbs of ice and a small bag of bait - maybe a few smaller mullet...or 10lbs of ice and a 7lb block of chum. Once some ice melts I can fit a slot red and a couple 18"-ish grovers and a couple mullet for cutbait...
If you choose a bag that might leak a bit... simply place it in another clean garbage bag and keep your catch from messing up your vehicle on the way home... Plastic garbage bags are very handy - on more than one trip I've stowed my angler's camera gear and other sensitive stuff in them when it was raining... A backpack fits in one as well when needed...
Hope this helps and post up what you choose... I'm sure you're not the only one with this concern...
If I were to put it inside a vehicle I'd drain the liquid leaving only ice and fish for the drive. I'd still put it on a towel and the towel would be on a piece of plastic or in a little tub.
I like Bob's suggestion to put the fish in a bag inside the cooler, that should help a lot keeping it clean, And yes, then drain it and bag it the cooler a 3 mil construction cleanup bag for the ride back.
In 1977 when I was a kid, we were on vacation in Florida and I was fishing with cut squid. Anyway the bait was in a styrofoam cup, no lid, in the back of the station wagon when we went to a restaurant for dinner. Someone (I blame one of my sisters) knocked over that cup on the way out of the car. There it sat stewing in the hot Florida sun for the next hour and a half or so, and when we got back to the car the stench was just incredible. Nothing we could find would get it out of the carpet, I think on the drive back home to Chicago we went through several cans of air freshener to try to make it tolerable. My parents traded in that car for a new '78 wagon a few months later, probably just to be gone from that smell for good! So maybe that's why I'm leery of leaks.
I sympathize with your story. Hope the Hobie bag works out.
For bridge fishing in the keys i bought a large soft cooler from ****'s and then went to Home Depot with a tape measure and bought two very sturdy rectangular planters made out of light weight resin or something similar. (They are not plastic). Then I cut one in half and the other around 2/3 of its length, so when they were glued together they fit snugly inside the soft cooler. I think I used West System Epoxy I had left over to glue them together. This liner protects the soft cooler from fish spines and the liner can be removed for cleaning. The liner does not leak any ice water into the soft cooler. The soft cooler is easier for me to transport far out onto a bridge on an aluminum walker I converted to a fish cart. I bolted five rod holders to a store bought dairy crate that fits on the walker;s seat. The walker gives me a very comfortable seat with a backrest for rigging and taking a coffee break. There are no benches on the bridges in the keys so most people just sit on their cooler but I prefer to have more comfort at my age.
The collapsible walker also has storage under the seat and back rest. I can carry a five gallon aerated bucket (full of live shrimp) inside the dairy crate and the soft cooler goes on top of the five gallon bucket. My tackle goes in a backpack. I can hang all sorts of stuff from the walker since it had a 300 lb load capacity and is light weight. I have an expensive alum bridge cart but seldom use it unless I have a second person to pull it. The bridge cart accepts a regular 48 qt. cooler but I prefer to take my walker for the confort of the padded seat.