Filleting a Fish

Learning how to fillet trout is an easy pursuit if you employ the proper technique.

There are a handful of procedures that are effective and we will talk about a couple that are the most popular.

The first method is a technique to simply get the trout ready for baking. Some call it "gutting the fish". The other means is the Butterfly Filleting Method. We will visit that one in a moment.

The first step learning how to fillet trout is evisceration (or again what many call “gutting the fish”). This can be done in a handful of ways, but the following is the easiest and most effective.

No matter which technique you use, make sure you have a sharp knife! Hold the fish in one hand with its head pointed toward the ceiling (or simply lay the fish on its side).

Take your knife at the anus and gently cut the fish along the belly. Continue the cut all the way to the throat. Insert your knife into the soft tissue between the gills and the collarbone. Cutting perpendicular to the belly, cut outward (or up toward the head). Continue this cut until you can remove the head.

Next, grasp the entrails and pull them so they come out. Take the fish and wash it in cold water. This is the best time to remove the blood line running down the backbone. You can use a spoon to “rub or “scratch” away the blood line with the fish in the water. Many anglers simply use their finger or thumb as an effective means to do the same task.

Now wash the fish, inside and out in a mixture of lightly salted water. This will allow you to remove any of the residues that may have been present during the cleaning of the fish.

Make sure you check out the delicious trout recipes on the trout recipes page. You can now bake or grill your fish in a variety of different ways once you have mastered this step.

We also talked about learning how to fillet trout butterfly style. This is the best way hands down, to fillet trout. One of the key advantages of this method is it allows you to salvage anywhere from 60 to 75% of the weight of the fish, and end up with some beautiful fillets.

If you have never done the butterfly method, take your time.

Learning how to fillet trout with this method is an extension of the above example (on how to gut and clean trout). The only step you need to skip during the butterfly method is the removal of the blood line along the spine.

Make sure you use a knife that is relative to the size of the fish. It will make your job a lot easier.

Place the gutted trout on its back. Take your knife and insert it behind the ribs along the base of the backbone. Gently work the knife toward the other end of the ribs (toward the outside).

Make sure you cut as close to the ribs as possible so you salvage as much meat as you can. You should be able to see the blade of your knife at all times as you go through this process. Work your way all the way down as far as the ribs go.

Upon reaching the anal fin, make sure you keep your knife as close to it as possible.

Continue this careful nature as you cut all the way back to the tail.

Repeat the removal of the ribs on the other side of the trout. Again, when you get to the tail at the bottom, keep your knife as tight to it as you can.

Take your knife and cut down and in toward the backbone. You need to do this the entire length of both sides of the fish. You will know you are doing it right if you the sound of the small pin bones being cut can be heard. If you hear this, you are on the right track!

Next, you must remove that “whole centre piece” or the frame of the trout. Right now you should have 2 fillets lying on the table on either side of the middle column. If you have cutters available to remove the centre from the rest of the fish, that works great. Often you can just break the centre piece off with your hands.

You will notice there are still some small pin bones which connected the muscle to the frame of the fish. Gently run the tip of your knife along the fillet to locate them.

You can get rid of these bones by cutting out the part of the fillet where they are present. Another trick is to use some pliers to grab and pull them out.

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