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Cleaning a Fish

So you just caught that largemouth you have been fishing for for hours, you put in on your stringer or live well, and you’re thinking of just how you want to cook it. Fried with some hush puppies? Baked with a tasty topping? The problem is, you have to get the meat off the fish first. How will you do this? Do you gut the fish? I would steer clear of this option, too messy and there is always the chance that you will cut an internal organ that would ruin the taste of the fish. Do it the easy way.

The easiest way to get the meat off your prized catch is to use a fish scaler and a fillet knife. I would recommend doing this outside to avoid a big mess in your kitchen. You probably would prefer to avoid fish scales all over your floor and counter. This will also make cleanup much faster and easier.

So go out in your driveway with your catch and some old newspaper. Take the fish scaler and begin scraping the scales off the fish in a tail-to-head motion. Make sure you get them all, fish scales are not tasty and they are a real detractor when you bite down on one.

After the scales are removed, you should take the fillet knife and make your cut just behind the head of the fish. Continue cutting into the fish until you hit bone. Then, you should slowly and carefully run the fillet knife along the ribs of the fish while slowly peeling back the fillet. Be sure to keep the knife against the spine of the fish to avoid missing any meat.

After you cut off both fillets, simply wrap the fish in the newspaper and throw it in the trash. Hopefully the trash man is coming the next morning or you may have cats and raccoons fishing around in your garbage looking for a tasty treat.

Now you can wash the fish to remove any blood or scales that have collected on the meat. (Those wouldn’t be too tasty, would they?) Now place the fish in ziplock bags if you are storing the meat to cook later or on a surface like a cutting board that will be away from any other food. (Cross contamination will make you sick.)

Make sure you cook it fully, fresh water fish have things in their system that you will really want to kill off before you eat it. No one likes food poisoning.