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Fillet Knives, Pliers, Tools How-To's

How To Fillet Fish

How To Fillet Fish With Dr. Jim (Video)

Here is a video with Dr. Jim Wright demonstrating and discussing the best ways to fillet several different types of fish.... read more

Video Transcript

Hello, I'm Doctor Jim Wright. Today we're going to show you how we fillet fish. We're going to show you a great big variety of fish, different body shapes, sizes, and how to do several different kinds.

There's a few things we got to talk about before we show you about the fish. And that is, one, the fish cleaning stand. It's got to be at the right height. It can't be way up here and you can't be bending over to clean fish when you get done.

Remember, when you're cleaning these fish it's at the end of the day usually. You’ve been tired. You’ve been out fishing all day. Make it easy on yourself. Get the fish cleaning stand at the height that's made just for you. It works. It's going to save your back and you're going to enjoy cleaning fish.

The second thing is, after you got the stand right, remember cleaning the fish and filleting the fish began the minute you caught them. You got to put them on ice. You got to put them on ice right away.

The second thing you did was either you kept them alive, in a live bait well, or you put them on ice right away, one or the other. But the minute they die, put them on ice for sure.

The second thing is, if you can, bleed these fish right away, then put them on ice. If you're going to be out away from the dock for any length of time, gut them. Take out all the guts. You can leave the head, tail, everything else on but just take the guts out of them. Okay. Your fish is going to be much better quality.

Remember, if you first bleed them. Secondly, get them on ice right away. And a third thing is, after you get back at the dock keep them on ice here too. Don’t let them get hot while they're sitting at the dock waiting for you to be cleaned.

The next thing we got to talk about is knives. I got a whole variety of them to show you. Now, if you're cleaning a big fish, like an amberjack, you need something, a blade this big. You can't do it with a little knife. It's not possible. You can sit there and work your fingers to the bone. When you get to the smaller parts of it you can use a smaller knife.

When you get to the little fish you can use the short filleting knife such as this one. This is what it's designed to do. If you want to go down the length of a backbone of a fish though, you’ve got to have a longer one. You can slide down a backbone much better with a longer filleting knife.

Now, you’ve seen a whole lot of white handles here but that's not the only kind we use. This is a Chicago cuttery knife. They work great. This is a familiar Normark Rapala filleting knife. They're absolute, super every single time. All of them are good.

When you're going through a backbone, you need something that's designed to go through a backbone. There's other special knives. If you're trying to dig out all of the red meat along the spinal cord - that's what this little spoon's been designed for. This especially works great when you're cleaning salmon.

All of those are the knives. What are you going to do? Hold the fish with something. Use this wire glove. It's also made by Normark. Believe me, it works. You’ve got to hold that fish and you aren’t going to accidentally cut your hand that you're holding the fish with. Use them.

Fish get slippery. And if you're going to pull off the skins, sometimes it's nice to have an old torn out glove that you can throw away, that you can just grab a piece of the meat with that won't slide through your fingers and pull the skin off. You can use any kind of cloth for that. I use old gloves.

Last thing I got sitting right here, is a fly swatter. When you get in and you're hot and sweaty it's horrible to have a stupid fly sitting there biting the heck out of you while you're cleaning fish. Don’t forget it.

The next thing we got to do is, we got to get these knives sharp. Now how do we do that? We can do it the easy way, or we can do it the hard way. The expensive way is one of these electric knife sharpeners. I swear, I'm lazy. They work good. They're easy to use. So I use one of these.

The next way are these little files. When you want to put a quick little touch on one of those things, this works. Okay? Other people use these stones. They're steels, as they're called. They come with a lot of knives but they do really work good. I'm just not proficient to using one of them.

The last thing I use is one of these for a knife sharpener, or a hook sharpener. This is quick. And at the very last minute when I don’t have time to use one of those special electronic devices I use these. They work and they're quick and they put a great point on the knives. So if you want a sharp point you can really work well with one of these.

One of the first things that you always need is running water. When you're cleaning fish you’ve got to have something so you can spray, clean your hands up. And you need cloths around just to wipe your hands periodically. So don’t start fishing and don’t start cleaning your fish until you're really ready.

On this video tape you'll see several different faces and hands. As well as hear several different voices because over the years I've asked my friends to teach me how they clean their fish so that I can learn more.

Speckled trout or spotted sea trout are a popular southern and mid-Atlantic salt water species. So we're going to get an expert to show us his favourite method of filleting these fish.

Speaker 2:
I'm just saying there's lots of different ways but the answer is I just want to roll a picture once in a while with fish in plane. Jim:
Frank has this fish already scaled. He then removed the head and the intestines. Next he cut along each side of the dorsal fins and then he removed the dorsal fin portion. The only bones are now the backbones and it's ready to cook.

Speaker 2:
Show me the top one time. There you go. That's what I'm looking at - all the meat. Look at you. There we go.

Now flounder is another extremely popular species. Both for catching as well as on the table. And in one form or another, its distribution is worldwide in both warm and in cold water.

Here, a long thin blade is passed along the backbone and then hugs the ribs as the blade pierces the skin along the dorsal and the ventral fins. Again it's scaled first.

In this case, the head and the intestines were removed just in case somebody wanted to make a pocket inside of the fish, instead of cutting through the skin. And then that pocket would have allowed the fish and body it is to be stuffed. However they changed their mind.

Speaker 2:
I can't just remove scales on them.

Now whenever Gregory goes to work to fillet flounders. I mean a crowd gathers. This man is a craftsman.

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