Are you ready to learn how to fillet a fish? Earlier this week I shared about my husband’s recent ice fishing trip. He brought home quite a few perch but we forgot to take pictures when he cleaned them. Last night a friend stopped by on his way home from ice fishing and shared some of his catch with us. This time I took pictures while my husband filleted the fish so we can share it with you.
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How to Fillet a Fish:
1. Get your work space ready. Cover your work space with newspaper. You can use a cutting board or simply cut on the paper which is what we usually do. The fish seems to slip around just sitting on a cutting board whereas on the paper it sticks a little and helps to hold it in place. Place two large bowls nearby, one bowl for fillets and one for the discard pile.
2. Sharpen your fillet knife. We’ve learned through our years of butchering deer, elk and fish at home that the key to quick and easy wild game processing is a sharp knife. We have several knife sharpeners but this is the one that gets used the most often. Definitely a staple in our kitchen!
3. Lay the fish flat. Lift the pectoral fin by the fish’s gill and place your knife directly behind it. Cut straight down and start turning your knife towards the tail of the fish as you near the backbone. Be careful to not cut through the backbone of the fish.
4. Your knife should be parallel with the backbone at this point. Slowly cut towards the tail of the fish keeping your knife parallel to the backbone the whole time. You will be cutting the rib bones off the spine as you do this.
When you cut the fish open at this step, you may see fish eggs inside. We don’t like to eat the fish eggs although I’ve heard of some folks doing it. You can either discard them at this point or sit them aside to eat if you choose.
5. Once you reach the tail, stop and flip the fillet over so the meat is on top. Take your knife and lay it parallel so you cut between the skin and meat. Hold the skin down firmly with your hand as you slice the meat off.
6. Lay the fillet flat and with the tip of your knife carefully carve out the ribs and discard.
7. Flip the fish over and repeat the same process on the other side.
8. Now you have two fresh, wild harvested fish fillets to cook up in your favorite fish recipe! We love to bread them and fry them up in coconut oil for a tasty fish fry. You can also pan fry them in a butter and garlic sauce. Yum!
If we have a large quantity of fish we’re filleting, we freeze them for future meals. Simply place the desired number of fish in a plastic zip close bag. Press the air out of the bag, seal it tight and place it in the freezer for future use.
Learning how to fillet a fish is a handy skill to know. Whether you ice fish for perch in the winter or fish the lakes, creeks, streams and rivers in the summer. There are wild fish to catch and serve up to feed your family a tasty, healthy, wild harvested meal!