Bailing water?

Hi guys! :slight_smile:

I’m new to this site and had a quick question. With Menhaden fishing, we distinguish between “bailing water” which we use to pump our fish out of the hold and “refrigeration water” which we use to keep the fish cold while we hustle back home. Anyone else heard of/use this distinction? If either of these terms are familiar to you, what do they mean to you? Do you use them interchangeably or do you distinguish?

(We distinguish b/c bailing water is reused again and again til it’s really funky)

Never heard of “bailing water”, “refrigerated water” or “Menhaden fishing”.

I am an old Alaska hand with service on more than a couple of fish processors so am very familiar with RSW (refrigerated seawater). We never used “bailing water” but wonder if it is to flush out all the slime and blood in the RSW with clean water to make the pumping less stinky?

Just a thought but damned glad to not be in fishing anymore…you could never get away from the smell!

I never worked pogey boats but the principal for increasing the brine density to lower the freezing point of seawater is the standard for processors and tuna boats. The fish are immersed in chilled brine until frozen. The brine is pumped to another hold leaving individually frozen fish.

A process that may be the same as “bailing water” is the process of “pumping shrimp” out the holds of shrimp boats. Instead of lifting baskets of shrimp out of the holds,(as I did as a child) the fish houses flow water into the bins and lower a cranberry pump to pump the shrimp and ice slurry ashore.

With the oil content of menhaden or pogey, I would imagine the slurry water would be recirculated.

You know what they say about OLD FISHERMEN. They don’t die they just smell that way. That said and being an old fisherman myself I think the phrase bailing water probably comes from the fact that in the “old days” the pogies were bailed or brailed out of the purse seine with a dip net. About 500 pounds at a time. Today, pogies or manhadden, for the most part are pumped from the net and in the process the fish are de-watered and the fish go into the hold and the water is returned overboard. That way the refer plant,on board the vessel, is only trying to get the heat out of the fish not the water too. When the fish are pumped out of the boat to the plant the cold water is usually returned to the fish hold to be used again until the off loading is completed. After the unloading process is complete the water left over is called “stick water” in the North East and now with the EPA regulations that are being inforced one is suppose to transport that water offshore to be pumped out.
In the US north east there is still a bait fishery for pogies that brailes the fish with a dip net because of state regulations partaining to the Bailing water and the foam that the process produces.

“Bailing water” is the water that is used to pump the fish from the net into the fishholds. It is separated from the fish with screens and discharged over the starboard side after the fish have been elevated and are being dropped into the holds.

Refrigeration water is kept, ideally, at about 33 degees and is recirculated through the fish. This time of year it’s not too difficult to keep the refrigeration water cold, but in the heat of summer, every time you pump a bunch of fish, the temperature of the refrigeration water rises dramatically. Sometimes it causes a relief valve on the amonia refrigeration system to pop. You really want to be upwind when that happens. A face full of that stuff will get your attention…momentarily.

Then there is the “wash water” that is used to remove the fish from the boats. The wash water and residual “soluables” are hauled offshore and pumped overboard. It’s completely organic and completely legal, and it makes a hell of a chum slick!

Pogy fishing…it’s not for the weak of stomach!


We always said it “Smells like money”.

Painted the fish-hold hatch covers green for the same reason.

[B]“It’s not fish you’re buying, it’s mens souls”[/B]

Wow thanks for the responses guys! OK, so how would one define “Mackerel and Anchovy UNLOADING WATER”–is unloading water different?

After the first day or two on the boat you can’t smell a thing your so used to it.