How to Fillet a Fish
White Bass,LargeMouth,Crappie/ Catfish / Turtle / Gar
|White Bass (Sand Bass), Large Mouth Bass, Crappie|
1. Lay the fish on the cutting board. Grasping the fish's mouth, take fillet knife and position it just behind the side fin. Slice downward about a half inch keeping the rear of the knife blade up (watch your fingers!) Be careful not to cut into the fish's backbone.
2. Turn the knife blade towards the tail and continue cutting, staying on top of the back and belly fins. You'll feel resistance as you cut through the rib cage; but, be careful not to cut into the backbone. It's better to cut too shallow than too deep. It will be painfully obvious if you cut too close to the backbone to retrieve more meat. It will feel like you're cutting through wood and your fillet will be full of backbone. If you get too ambitious and cut completely through the fish, well, you're on your own. Continue your cut towards the tail, almost cutting the scaly fillet off, but not quite.
3. With the fillet barely attached to the tail, flip it away from the fish. Position your knife onto the narrow portion of the fillet, and while holding the fish, slice the meat from the fish's skin. To obtain the maximum meat, cut very close to the skin, but if you want a less 'fishy' taste, cut only the upper white meat from the skin, leaving the red meat attached. When the fillet is removed, place it, with ribcage still attached, on a sheet of wax paper.
4. Flip the fish over and fillet the other side.
5. Take each fillet, and with the tip of your fillet of your fillet knife carefully cut out the rib cage. To retrieve the most meat, angle your knife and slice close to the ribs.
6. Put the finished fillets into your plastic container and rinse them under cold water. If you plan on eating them that same day, the fillets are ready to cook. If you plan to keep them until the next day, rinse to clean and cover with about one inche of water. Add one teaspoon of salt to prevent a gamey taste. To keep them long term (up to six months) get the fillets good and wet (keeps them from sticking together and getting freezer burn), wrap them in aluminum foil, and place them in your freezer.
1. Lay the fish on the cutting board. With your fingers, hold the fish by the mouth then slice through the skin along its back and all the way around its neck (see orange line in photo.) With your pliers grab one corner of skin flap (see green arrows in photo) and pull in the direction of the arrow all the way to the tail. Repeat with the other skin flap. Don't be afraid to dig slightly into the meat with your plier tips to get a hold of the skin flap.
2. Flip the fish on its back. Cut through its belly, splitting the fillets and explosing the entrails, but be careful not cut into any organs to keep the meat as clean as possible.
3. Slide your fingers into the opening and with your knife, cut the fillets from the backbone, sliding the knife all the way to the head to retrieve the maximum meat. Clean and store the fillets as with bass (see above.)