Bringing home the catch is one of the best experiences in fishing. But learning how to fillet a fish without sacrificing the meat is a matter of respect. For the quickest, cleanest way to remove meat from skin and bone, follow these five steps.
How to Fillet a Fish in 5 Easy Steps
1 Prepare your tools
Cleaning a fish requires a few specialty tools. Choose a fillet knife with a stiffer blade for removing the meat from the bones and another knife with a flexible blade to skin the fillet. A cutting board made of a marine-grade polymer like Starboard is easy to clean and provides a solid, slip-resistant surface. Wear a rubber-coated fish cleaning glove to hold the slippery fish. Before starting the job, touch up the edge of the blade with a ceramic sharpener.
2 Make the first cut
Using the stiff blade, cut the fish behind the head and pectoral fin to the backbone. Use the inner edge of the blade, the sturdiest part of the knife, for maximum leverage.
3 Slice along the backbone
Hold the fish with one hand and run the tip of the knife between the skin and the backbone. In one movement, slice the skin 1/8-inch deep, moving the knife away from your hand.
4 Detach the fillet
Turn the knife over and run the blade back along the initial 1/8-inch cut between the meat and the bones. With your free hand, pull the meat away from the bones while continuing to slice. Cut through the belly bones with the inner part of the edge.
5 Remove the skin
To remove the skin, lay the fillet skin side down. Pinch the tail to the board with one hand and slice the meat away from the skin by sliding the blade back and forth.
This article was first published in Kayak Anger Issue 44. Subscribe to Kayak Anger and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos or browse the digital archives for your desktop here.
First, lay out the proper tools to clean your fish. | Feature photo: Ric Burnley