Skip to Content

What Is the Best Way To Freeze Fish in Ziplock Bags?

What Is the Best Way To Freeze Fish in Ziplock Bags?

If you hauled in more fish than you can eat in your latest ice fishing adventure, you may be wondering about long-term storage options. Is it okay to freeze the excess fish?

Specifically, can you freeze them in ziplock bags? If so, what’s the best way to do it?

Is there a better way to store fish in the freezer? Should you store your fish in water or not?

Keep reading as we dive in and explore answers to all of these questions!

Can You Freeze Fish in Ziplock Bags?

fish kept in ziplock bags

You may have heard that it’s not good to freeze fish in bags, or you may be wondering if the better option is to use plastic storage containers instead.

The good news is, it is perfectly fine to store your fish in ziplock bags, and doing so is an easy, convenient option.

If you have too much fish left over from your most recent ice fishing trip, it’s okay to freeze what you can’t eat in bags. The simple, easy method that will be described in this article doesn’t take long to do and is a great way to preserve your extra fish for future uses.

The best part is freezing your fish in ziplock bags doesn’t take a whole lot of prep time. You don’t need to cook the fish first, and you don’t even need to filet or debone them if you don’t want to.

Simply place the fish in bags and throw them in the freezer.

We’ll talk about the most effective way to freeze fish in ziplock bags below.

What Is the Best Way To Freeze Fish in Ziplock Bags?

The Best Way to Freeze Fish and Avoid Freezer Burn | Thundermist Quick Fishing Tips

The video above gives you a great visual on the process while showing the best way to freeze fish using ziplock bags. We’ll discuss the step-by-step process below.

Step 1: Choose the Right Bags

It’s important that you choose high-quality ziplock bags–those produced by the Ziploc brand, for example.

high-quality ziplock bags

You also want to make sure you use freezer bags, not storage bags or any other type. Freezer bags are designed to prevent freezer burn and frost buildup, so they will keep your fish fresher for longer.

Before buying your bags, make sure the box specifically says “freezer” on it.

Depending on the size of your fish and how much you have, you will probably want to use gallon-sized bags.

For smaller fish, such as leftover bait minnows, you can use quart-sized bags if you would prefer.

Step 2: Fill the Bags

Fill in the zip bag

Once you have your bags, it’s time to pack them.

Place whole fish, filets, or chunks in a single layer inside each bag; it’s okay if they are touching, but they shouldn’t be piled on top of each other or they will freeze together in one large mass.

Plus, placing them in a single layer keeps the bags flat and makes them easier to stack.

As you fill each bag, press out as much air as possible before zipping it shut.

Step 3: Wrap the Bags in Newspaper

Wrap the zip bags

This step is key to getting the most storage life out of your frozen fish. You can use old newspapers, the grocery ads that come in the mail, or freezer paper; whatever you happen to have on hand.

Wrap each bag in a couple of layers of newspaper or freezer paper. Wrap them up like presents,  folding the sides of the paper over and making sure each bag is fully wrapped.

Tape the ends of the paper down with pieces of masking tape.

Be sure to label each bag with the type of fish and the date so you don’t forget what’s inside the package.

This method works well because the layers of paper act as an additional insulator. Paired with the freezer bags, the paper works to keep your fish almost as fresh as the day you caught them.

The frozen fish should be used up within the next three months for best quality; if you can’t eat them all that quickly, they will store in the freezer for up to six months.

What Is the Best Way To Freeze Fish?

The very best method for freezing fish is to use a vacuum sealer. This appliance sucks all the air out of the freezer bag, sealing it tight around the food and preventing air from coming in contact with it.

A vacuum sealer

Vacuum sealing ensures the maximum amount of storage time because the food is protected from oxidation. So, if you have a vacuum sealer or are willing to invest in one, this is your best option.

That said, not everyone has a vacuum sealer, and the good ones are not cheap. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer and don’t want to spend the money for one, then using the ziplock bag and newspaper method described above is the way to go.

Is It Better To Freeze Fish With or Without Water?

Freeze Fish

The answer to this question is, it’s entirely up to you.

Some people feel that freezing their fish in water adds an extra layer of defense against freezer burn, so if you want to do that, it’s totally fine.

One thing to keep in mind is that, if you fill your ziplock bags with water, they won’t lie flat. You won’t be able to stack them, so they will take up quite a bit more room in your freezer.

What’s more, the water does provide some protection against freezer burn, but the fish pressing up against the insides of the bag won’t be as protected as the ones more toward the center of the bag.

So, again, if you want to freeze your fish in water, you can, but it’s not necessary.

As long as you follow the steps outlined earlier in this article, your fish should store exceptionally well in your paper-wrapped ziplock bags.


The best way to freeze fish in ziplock bags is to place the fish in a single layer, press the extra air out of the bags, then wrap them in newspaper or freezer paper.

Following this method, the fish will store in the freezer for up to six months.