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The Best Fishing Coolers for Keeping Fish Fresh

The best fishing cooler must be multi-faceted. It needs to be able to store ice for your entire trip, needs to be large enough to store what you catch, is functional to store food and drinks while you wait for the bite, is easy to drain, and is easy to clean.

In this guide, we cover the top coolers used by fishermen. We tried to showcase a diverse set of coolers for different budgets and situations.

6 Best Fishing Coolers For 2022 Reviewed

1. Yeti Tundra 

Best Boat Cooler

YETI Tundra 65 Cooler, Charcoal
  • The YETI Tundra 65 is just as adept at keeping your catches…
  • Ice stays ice thanks to up to 3 inches of PermaFrost…
  • The Rotomolded Construction makes the Tundra armored to the…

Built to withstand the harsh, wet environments of life. Indestructible rust-resistant stainless-steel screws, lid strap, and hinged latch.

As for its ice retention, the insulation in the body and lid keeps ice frozen for days. UV protection shields from sun damage.

A threaded drain plug lets you hook up a hose for ultimate easy-to-drain performance. Also includes self-draining cup holders and a lockable lid or tie-down loops.

This is one of my favorite best fishing coolers, to say the least.

Pros:

  • Quality cooler
  • Easy to use latches to secure the lid.
  • Barefoot no-slip grip.
  • Easily anchor it to your boat.

Yeti Warranty Information: Link


2. Igloo Marine Ultra Cooler

Best Igloo Cooler

Igloo Marine Ultra Coolers, White, 30 Qt
  • Ultraviolet inhibitors protect against sun damage.
  • Ultratherm insulated lid and body keeps contents cold.
  • Non-slip comfort grip handles.

Built to withstand the harsh, wet environments of life. Indestructible rust-resistant stainless-steel screws, lid strap, and hinged latch.

Ultratherm insulation in the body and lid contributes to its ice retention that’s up to 5 days so it keeps the contents cold. UV protection shields from sun damage.

A threaded drain plug lets you hook up a hose for ultimate easy-to-drain performance. Also includes Four self-draining cup holders and a lockable lid or tie-down loops.

The igloo marine cooler has all the features of comparable coolers but at a much lower, more affordable price.

Pros:

  • It is affordable with many same features as other coolers.
  • Maneuvers well on most all-terrain.
  • Telescopic Handle makes it easy to carry along behind you at the proper height.

Igloo Warranty Information: Link


3. Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series Marine Portable Cooler

One of the Best Marine Coolers

Coleman Cooler | Xtreme Cooler Keeps Ice Up to 5 Days | Heavy-Duty 70-Quart Cooler for Camping, BBQs, Tailgating & Outdoor Activities
  • Xtreme Technology; Insulated lid and extra wall insulation…
  • High Capacity: Holds Up to 100 Cans
  • HAVE-A-SEAT LID: Closed lid supports up to 250 lb.

Keep your food and drinks cold for the full length of your next boating excursion (or even a camping trip) with the best fishing cooler, the Coleman 120-Quart Coastal Xtreme.

Specially designed for boating and fishing, this portable cooler combines a generous capacity with a rugged design. This design stands up to tough saltwater conditions.

Large enough to store up to 204 cans, this huge cooler offers plenty of room for beverages, food, and any catch you might haul on board. The insulated lid and walls offer up to 6 days of ice retention, helping ensure your catch stays fresh even during multi-day voyages and keep your beverages cold so you can enjoy cool drinks in hot weather.

Built to withstand years of rugged marine use. This heavy-duty cooler comes equipped with rust-resistant stainless steel hardware and UV guard sun protection. This resists yellowing and cracking. A threaded drain with an easy-to-clean valve allows you to empty excess water without tilting the cooler.

The smooth EZ-Clean lid easily wipes clean of grime and dirt, while the Have-A-Seat lid offers a comfortable place to sit and relax.

And thanks to its comfortable no-crush handle grips, this great fishing cooler is easy to transport whether you are bringing whole meals for your fishing trips or fishing adventures.

Pros:

  • Very durable lid.
  • Comfortable handle grips.
  • Ice retention up to 6 days.
  • Same performance as the more expensive brands.

Coleman Warranty Information: Link

Best Fishing Coolers
Coleman coolers have been keeping fish cold for decades. Source

4. Reliable Fishing Products Kill Bag

Best Fish Kill Bag

Reliable Fishing Products Kill Bag, 20 x 60, Takes Up Less Space, Easy to Clean, Perfect Leakproof and Produced in USA, White- Blanket
  • The fish bag is approximately equivalent to a 110-quart ice…
  • Washable and UV resistant
  • High quality 1/2 inch close cell foam

This is a great alternative if carrying a larger cooler is not feasible for the trip you are going on.

Reliable fishing insulated fish bags are by far the very best on the market. They are made with the highest quality material and insulation. They have many great features, for example, the material is mildew and UV resistant. Also, they have a 12-inch gusseted bottom which allows them to stand on their own and hold more fish.

All of the bags come with a drain plug for easy cleanup and are completely collapsible for an easy stowaway. Why use bulky coolers or make your fish holds stink, there is no need for that with the reliable fishing insulated fish bag.

These bags hold more fish, alleviate smells, and are easy to clean and stow away. Because they have such high-quality insulation, its ice retention is great.

This allows you to stay out longer knowing that your fish is fresh and safe. Reliable fishing products make 9 different sizes to accommodate all boats, no matter what the size. The sizes range from 18×36 to 30×90.

Pros:

  • Very easy to transport.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Hangs on the side of the boat for easy access.
  • Performs better than larger coolers in small boats.

5. Igloo Trailmate Journey Cooler

Best Fishing Cooler

Sale
Igloo Trailmate Journey 70 Qt Cooler , Charcoal/Acid Green/Chrome
  • Oversized never-flat wheels tackle Sand and other…
  • 70 quart capacity holds 112 cold ones and is insulated with…
  • Water-resistant storage keeps pocket-sized essentials safe…

Best-in-class mobility and convenience. The Igloo Trailmate wheeled cooler has oversized 10-inch never-flat wheels. These provide clearance and a smooth ride to help tackle the toughest terrain.

The ergonomic glide tow handle single button operation, and triple point grab handle – reduce towing effort by 50%. Making your travel to the site easy and enjoyable. Bungee tie-down loops on top help you utilize the cooler to haul your towels, quad chairs, & more.

Once at your site, you have accessory holders that add support to beach umbrellas or as fishing rod holders. You also have a media docking slot that props up your electronic device so you can watch a movie, read an e-book, or listen to music hands-free while relaxing.

Oversized never-flat wheels tackle sand and other challenging terrains. With superior traction and ground clearance of 10 inches. It’s one of the best coolers today.

Pros:

  • Maneuvers well for the size.
  • Can handle a large amount of equipment.
  • Has a large amount of inside storage.
  • Rolls well even in thick sand.

6. Engle USA Cooler

Best Fishing Cooler with Rod Holders

Engel LBC30-RH 30qt Live Bait Cooler with 2nd Generation 2X2 Portable Aerator Pump and Rod Holders White.
  • Quality injection molded (PP Copolymer) & insulated with…
  • Airtight EVA gasket Seal recessed ergonomic
  • Carry handles (ABS) & integrated shoulder strap (PP) along…

If you’re going to be taking out a few rods and reels with you for a day of fishing, it’s easier to carry them using your cooler than using your hands.

This cooler allows you can carry up to four rods at a time.

This is perfect for when you’re taking the kids fishing and you want to bring a cooler for food and drinks. Hopefully, you take to fill it with fresh fish for your supper!

Pros:

  • Four-rod holders.
  • Keeps everything well insulated.

Cons:

  • No wheels.

Fish Cooler Considerations

Fish that are put on the ice and kept chilled will taste better than fish that are kept on a stringer or in a live well where they can die.

Keeping fish chilled can often make the cleaning and filleting process much easier when you get home.

There are many different brands if these coolers on the market, such as Yeti, Coleman, Igloo, and Pelican just to name a few.

Fish on ice in a fishing cooler
It’s best to keep your fish on ice as soon as you catch it if you plan to keep it.

Obviously, the more insulation your cooler has, the colder it will stay. However, there are a few other things to keep in mind.

  • Does the lid close tightly? This can make up the majority of cold air escaping from the cooler.
  • Is your cooler cracked or busted? This can compromise the insulation’s ability to shield the cooler temperature inside.
  • Does your cooler have ice only or is it ice water? If there is water in the cooler with the ice, it can actually act to speed up the rate at your ice melts. This, of course, will cause the cooler to “warm up”

Now that you’ve caught your fish, and weighed it with a fish scale, it’s time to store it in a cooler that will keep it fresh.

What Are the Best Fishing Coolers?

With so many great coolers on the market today, it is hard to pick just one that tops them all.

Igloo coolers, Engel Coolers, and Coleman coolers have been around for many years and produce some long-lasting reliable, and the best fishing coolers.

More recent companies such as Yeti coolers and Pelican coolers also offer durable and reliable coolers. These are coolers that rival, and some say perform better, than Igloo and Coleman.

Yeti Fishing Coolers
Yeti coolers are some of the best ones on the market. They’ve been beaten up and still perform! Source

When it comes to the best fishing coolers, these are coolers made specifically with fishermen in mind. They can come in the form of seats and rod holders.

True fishing coolers also often are made on wheels for easy transport on and off boats. This is also great for traveling to boat docks, piers, and the beach.

Today’s coolers are built with durability and longevity in mind so you still have plenty of ice and cold drinks for the ride home. They are tough and with proper care, last a very long time.

Ultimately the cooler that has the best rating and the options you need will be the best fishing cooler for you.

Fishing Cooler Features

The best fishing coolers are designed with options a fisherman might need. Standard coolers will typically only have handles, and a drain spout and some models grace you with a few cold drink holders in the lid and are leakproof.

The fishing coolers, however, have:

  • Rod holders
  • Seats that double as the lid
  • Wheels
  • Good ice retention capabilities

These features allow the fisherman to easily transport the cooler while allowing it to help transport the rods. And in the case of pier fishing, it can be used as a seat. Some even come with a bottle opener.

They come in varying sizes from small fishing coolers to 150 quarts. Cases like the Grizzly 400 has a whopping 400-quart capacity with 2 inches of insulation. It is also a great kayak fishing cooler!

How to Care for Your Cooler

You never want to store your cooler with the lid closed while still damp inside.

This is the perfect breeding ground for mildew.

Always wipe dry or sundry your cooler regularly completely before storing it. If your fishing coolers require more cleaning than a rinse, a mild soap should do the trick.

Yeti cooler used while kayaking
If you beat up your cooler, just be sure to take care of it when you get home. Simple cleaning prevents later disasters like mold. Source

You can use a soft brush, ideally, a dish sponge to scrub it. Just be sure to give it a thorough rinse after.

Pay special attention to the drain. Make sure it gets rinsed and dried well. Some people leave the drain open, but this can be the perfect home for spiders and dirt daubers.

If you store your fishing cooler over a long period of time, it is a good idea to open it up and let it air out occasionally.

How to Keep a Cooler Cool

When the days get hot but the fishing is good, you want to make sure your fishing cooler is performing at its absolute best and be leak proof. You don’t want hot air coming in during your fishing trip.

Here are a few tips to make sure your fishing cooler stays as ice cold as possible for days and with good ice retention:

  • Chill the cooler before packing. A cold cooler keeps ice longer.
  • Freeze your food and keeps drinks ice cold.
  • Use ice blocks instead of ice cubes.
  • Drain water on long trips but not on short ones.
  • Pack in layers.
  • Don’t trust food packaging.
  • Add an extra layer of insulation.
  • Keep it latched and closed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best fishing cooler?

This really depends on the way you plan to use your fishing cooler. Usually, the higher insulation rating will provide the best temperature consistency.

Why do you need a fishing cooler?

A fish cooler can be to keep your fish cool and fresh or to take your lunch and drinks along with you on a fishing trip.

How long does a fishing cooler stay cold?

On average, approximately 3 days. However, some models hold ice for up to 7 days. To get the maximum cooling retention, make sure to “prime” your cooler as stated in the “how to make sure your fishing cooler stays cool for days section”

How big does a fishing cooler need to be?

This depends on how you will be using it and how much storage space you need. Fishing coolers range in size from small, medium, large, and extra-large. It’s up to you if you want the best small fishing cooler, a heavy cooler, or the biggest one.

What is the difference between a fishing bag and a fishing cooler?

A fishing bag can be hung on the side of the boat for easy access. They do stay cool for long periods of time. However not typically as long as a fishing cooler. A cooler offers more options such as a rod holder, seat, more capacity, and so on.

What are fishing coolers made of?

High-impact plastic with expandable foam insulation.

How long can you keep fish in a cooler?

While it is always advisable to process your fish as soon as possible. Fish will remain fresh as long as there is visible ice in the cooler and they are cold to the touch.

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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