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Learn how to fillet a fish in the field

Delicious fresh fish. But even if you are a decent or just lucky hunter, fishing It could be the easy part between hitting the water and Luxurious meal. With larger fish, a good way to extract the meat while leaving the bones behind is to fillet. With practice, You can become fast and efficient. Do not be intimidated by the experts if you have never cut fish in the field before. With the minimum amount of time to familiarize yourself with it, you’ll find it not that difficult.

Follow the steps below to learn how to master your own fish slices!

Notice: Fillet knife Nice to have it. Fillet knives are long, thin, and sharp, and have little flexibility. Don’t have a filet knife? Don’t worry, just use whichever knife at your disposal is the sharpest.

1. Skip sizing and cutting the fish (it will remove the skin anyway), then lay the fish flat on its side on a flat surface.

2. Two steps here. First, make a diagonal cut slanting forward behind the nostrils, directly from the top of the spine to the bottom of the stomach. Cut into the spine and rib cage. Then, at the other end of the fish, make a vertical cut down so the spine is directly in front of the tail.

Courtesy Jim Bird

3. Tracing your fillet: To secure, consider tracking your fillet by making a shallow incision along the top of the fish’s spine on the working side of the fish to attach the pieces behind the fish’s gills and the cut at its tail. Do the same along the working side of the stomach as well. Note: This is not mandatory but taking the time to do even one of these cuts helps the final product.

Fillet cut at the tail

3. Starting at the tail, insert the knife blade into your incision and cut toward the head by rotating the knife side flat against the spine. Start cutting toward the head using the two slits I made to guide you. Stop as soon as you reach the rib cage. You will want to secure the fish by holding it with your free hand, just make sure the knife is always under or behind your free hand to avoid cutting yourself.

Cut into the rib cage

4. At this point, there are two ways to go: Continue to follow the spine and cut the rib cage, and finish behind the nostrils at the initial cut; Or, an added challenge, follow the rib cage by cutting the spine with a knife, where you will then begin cutting along the ribs from the spine. Keep the side of the knife on the rib cage and let it guide you as you chop all the meat from it until you reach the initial slicing. Now you can upload your slides.

Beef fillet

5. If you decide to cut the rib cage as described in the previous point, turn the side of the fillet skin down, and cut the rib cage from the slices starting at the top. Use the rib cage to guide your knife as you go. As with most of this process, the goal here is to leave as much meat as possible on the fillet.

Fish skin

6. If you slice the rib cage while filling, skip the last point and begin removing the skin. To do this, you’ll want to: (a) Lay your strips down, skin side down. B) Place your thumb in the tail meat as far away from the steaks as possible in order to secure the skin to the work surface with your thumb. C) Cut the meat with the knife, turning it 90 degrees so that the side of the knife is flat against the skin and under the meat. Hold the fillet in place with your thumbs, and cut away from yourself keeping the knife flat against the skin until the flesh is completely separated. Try to bend the knife slightly during the process to ensure its side remains firmly against the skin.

When you see this perfect meaty fillet lifted off the skin, it feels fulfilling!

Upside down fish fillets

7. Turn the fish over and repeat the previous steps on the other side. Note: some fish have fewer bones than others. With species like northern pike, you’ll want to take an extra step of cutting y bones from the slices before removing the skin, but with many types of freshwater fish or saltwater fish such as seabass, the above steps will give you a boneless fillet if done correctly.

Now you have to decide how you want to cook your slices. Blackening, Baked, grilled, brined with beer, or fried until crunchy golden brown: all of these methods can be delicious. Feeling hungry? Grab your stick or just cheat and take a trip to your local grocery store.

Fried cast iron fish
Jim Bird

In the second half of this video (14:22 inches), I illustrate the steps above for packing a bus (plus another way to clean up a northern pike). I cook them over a fire, too. (more than Jim Bird)

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Written by Joseph

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