How To Filet A Fish

I have been an avid fisherman since I was a child, which was quite awhile ago. I have been fishing regularly for over 30 years and I have seen a lot of people who cannot properly clean their fish after catching it so I thought I might offer a little guidance.

First, it is absolutely crucial that you have a very sharp knife. I personally use an electric filet knife a lot, but you really have to have some experience to be able to use one properly. Using a standard filet knife, I prefer to use one with about an eight inch blade unless I am filleting a large gamefish in which case I will break out my "Crocodile Dundee" Alaskan Filet knife.

To begin filleting the fish, place it on a sturdy surface preferably about waist high for comfort. Take the tip of the knife and insert it along the dorsal fin of the fish and make small cuts towards the head keeping the blade against the bones of the fin. Now make a deep cut right behind the gill plate from the belly vertically up to the back of the fish meeting the cut you made along the spine.

Now, go back to the spine area where you made your fist cuts and now take deeper cuts following along the spine and ribcage and then work your way towards the tail. Stop short of the tail leaving that intact so that the filet you have is still attached to the rest of the fish at that point. Turn the fish so that the belly is towards you now and make any cuts to separate your filet in that area, then flip the filet over so that the scales are down and the meat side is up. This is where you really need to be sure your knife is sharp, starting near the tail hold the blade of your knife close as possible to the skin of the fish and begin to slide the blade back and forth towards the shoulder of the fish until you have completely removed the meat from the skin.

The final step for this side of the fish is to check the lateral line for small bones and cartilage and the bloodline. Some fish such as amberjack will have a large bloodline which you will want to remove for optimum taste. After you are sure all the bones and bloodline have been removed place this filet to the side and start on the next side. Doing it in this order is a personal preference, you can also complete the filleting of the other side first and then do the fine tuning of removing the bloodline and small bones.


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