Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cleaning and Gutting Fish

Food is vital to life.  If you're hunting or fishing to survive, it is quite obviously critical that you know how to find and process food.  There is glory in bringing home big game, obviously, but it is far simpler and more economical (from a standpoint of time and energy invested in relation to food attained) to focus on small game and fish.  And since I went fishing this weekend, fish will be today's subject.

Landing fish is tough to teach, and a regional thing.  The best way to learn is to find a mentor in your area who can show you techniques and methods that work where you are.

Cleaning and processing your take, however, is fairly simple.  I'm not nearly so practiced on trout as my dad, so he's the one running the knife in this video.  My skill set for cleaning fish is more related to bass and walleye, and when I get some of those in the boat, I'll teach that as well.

Fair warning: if you have a weak stomach, the video in this post is not for you.  Dad can process a trout in roughly a minute, but it's messy.

So, a breakdown of what you saw:
  1. Hold the fish belly up in your non-dominant hand.  
  2. Start your cut at the anal fin (the rear fin on the bottom of the fish) and cut upward to the gill plates.
  3. There are two slits on the "chin" of the fish, cut across at the front of the jaw to join these slits. 
  4. Put your thumb in the opening you just made, and pull firmly down towards the tail.  All of the innards should come out in one pull.  
  5. All that is left is the main blood vessel along the spine.  Run your knife from front to back along the vein to free it, then use your thumb (or a spoon handle, or whatever you have handy) to remove the vein. 
  6. Rinse everything very well, and your fish is ready to be frozen, baked, grilled, smoked, or any other cooking method you like.

Eat well, my friends.


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