Fish deteriorates and decomposes much more rapidly than meat, and is at its best when cleaned and cooked just after being caught. Ice will preserve fish for a short time only. If ever on a camping trip you have eaten bluefish caught in the surf, or trout from the brook, cooked immediately, you know what flavor a fish may have. Fish should be killed immediately, and put on ice if they are not to be cooked at once. If there is no ice, clean the fish, sprinkle the flesh with pepper and salt, wrap in a wet cloth, and set in a breeze or draught.
In selecting fish, see that the flesh feels firm and that the eyes are still bright. If you have a keen sense of smell, this will also guide you, although to the novice the odor of fish may be disagreeable even if untainted.
Fish in season and caught plentifully near by, are of good quality and should be cheap. Shad and salmon have their season in the spring, bluefish come north in the summer, sometimes as late as August, porgies are a summer and autumn fish, and smelt are abundant in the winter. Deep-sea fish like cod and halibut have a long season, and may be bought at any time.