How to Correctly Fillet Fish

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You may be someone who enjoys ultralight fishing for the pure sport or alternatively you may be trying to put food on the table or maybe you enjoy ultralight fishing for both of these reasons. The catch and release or keep debate won’t be settled any time soon. No matter what species you are targeting, you want to ensure that you are getting the most flesh from the bone as possible. There are plenty of ways to prepare fish for the table however one of the most popular methods which we are going to cover is filleting.

Succulent fish fillet the rewards of Ultralight Fishing

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It takes a trained touch to properly fillet a fish. When performed correctly, it can produce a high quantity of meat that contains no bones. Once an individual fully understands and can perform a quality filleting, they can quickly prepare a fish in no time.
There are not many things in this world that can beat the enjoyable flavor of eating fresh fish. However, to ensure that the caught fish maintains its flavor requires proper care.

Fish is an extremely perishable meat. To ensure that it stays fresh means that it should remain alive as long as absolutely possible, before the filleting process begins. Anglers can keep their catch fresh by using a fish basket, a live well (in a boat) or a good stringer. The ideal way to maximize fish freshness is to keep the fish directly on crushed or cubed ice.

The Ideal Knife

To properly fillet a fish requires a good knife designed specifically for filleting. It is usually crafted as a flexible, thin long blade. Anglers can locate a quality filleting knife at a department store, or sporting goods store that sells fillet knives. It should be of quality, so that it maintains its sharpness after repeated uses. To begin the filleting process requires a flat, smooth board to work as the ideal cutting surface. Many experienced anglers use a canoe paddle when filleting a fish to enjoy at lunchtime, while on a fishing adventure.

The ideal sportsmen will understand exactly how the bone structure of a freshwater or ocean fish is designed, to help them in the filleting process. It is important the fish be dead before the process of filleting begins. This will help avoid any type of injury by the fish moving around. To ensure the fish is dead, simply make a cut just behind the cover of the gill without cutting through it.

Filleting a Fish

The process of filleting a fish includes:

• Using the filleting knife, cut the fish’s head off at a position just behind its gills.

• Holding the fish by the tail, take the blade of the knife and eat it away from you. Start cutting toward the fish’s head (where it once was), while using the fish’s backbone as an effective guide for the knife.

• The easiest way to remove the skin is to hold a fillet knife and the fish’s tail with the skin side down. With the knife in a crosswise position insert it between the flesh and the skin (no one will be able to do this perfectly the first time). By carefully holding the skin, take the knife and move it toward where the head used to be. This process is more difficult when performed on larger fish.

Ultralight fishing can provide food for the table
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Many times, significant levels of contaminants can be found in the fish’s fat. By properly skinning, trimming and fully cooking the catch, many of these contaminants can be reduced. This often requires the process of trimming and skinning away nearly all of the fat located in the flap of the belly and along both sides of the fish. Additionally, fat can be found along the fish’s back and directly under its skin. All dark fatty tissue should be removed.

It should be noted that simply cooking the fish will not destroy any of the contaminants in the fish. However, the heating process will melt much of the fat and allow the contaminants to drip away. Therefore, baking, grilling and broiling skinned fish using a rack will help the melted fat drip away. The drippings of the fish should never be used as a way to prepare gravies or sauces.

As ultralight fishing continues to be one of the most favorite outdoor activities, it is important to understand the proper way of filleting a fish to fully enjoy every catch.

Don’t Forget to check out our Ultralight Fishing Post!

More great how to guides on the blog

How to Properly Fish with Spinners
How to Estimate the Weight of a Fish
How to Attach Fishing Line to a Reel
How to Set Your Drag the Easy Way
How to Fight a Large Fish on Ultralight Tackle
How To Free Snags On Ultralight Tackle

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