Fishing questions

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Mid Tn Mama, Mar 29, 2006.

  1. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I ama beginner fisherlady. I recently learned how to clean a fish and was wondering what your best tips are for what you do AFTER you catch the fish.

    I'm looking for the most practical, frugal, time-saving advice you have. It took a while to clean that fish. I know I need to buy a filet knife, a scaler and some "kind of board for cleaning" (?)

    Do you cut of the head first? Do you hit the fish with a hammer to kill it? I must admit it bothered me to be scaling and cutting while the fish was still moving. Is there a better way?

    What happens if you catch a fish but don't have time right then to clean it? What is the very least you have to do to freeze it and handle it later?

    What if you are camping and don't want all the fuss--can you leave the scales on but don't eat those or the skin (flake off the meat after cooking over a campfire?)

    Thanks in advance and eagerly awaiting your replies.
     
  2. Rita

    Rita Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've been cleaning fish for 60 some years. I have a nice fileting knife but generally like my favorite small sharp kitchen knife.

    A teaspoon with a thin edge makes a very good scaler and the scales get trapped on the underside of the spoon and don't fly around as much.

    For small fish cut down the back of the "neck" and then pull and the guts should come right on out with the head.

    Can't clean it right away, ice it down good but get to it as soon as you can. I think the guts make it taste funny if left too long.

    Why not learn to filet a fish and you don't have to gut at all. Just scale, cut around the edges and then work down next to the bone starting at the dorsal fin (top) and end at the belly and then do the other side. No bones about it!! Rita in TN
     

  3. wilderness1989

    wilderness1989 Well-Known Member

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    Good luck!
     
  4. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    So if you are freezing--could you just cut off the head and get out guts and youre good to go? I was told to soak the fish in salt water before I cooked. How long?

    I loved this fresh fish because it didn't taste fishy!! I froze half to see how if it would taste fishy after being defrosted. I have heard of soaking fish in milk, was wondering if you froze in milk if that would be a good idea.

    Thanks Rita. Keep em coming.....
     
  5. Wildcrofthollow

    Wildcrofthollow Well-Known Member

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    I have always cut from the top down right behind the head to sever the spine on any fish that I knew I was going to keep. No reason for them to be miserable until they die later. To let your fish, that is going to give its life for you, suffer is bad medicine. Then put them in a cooler on ice, or a creel with some wet foliage, until I could get to them. I used to clean fish when I was a kid, but when I learned to fillet, I never went back to just cleaning. You get an excellent piece of fish with little or no bones (depending on what kind of fish). Once filleted, they can be EATEN or frozen or dried or whatever. Be careful, fishing is an addiction that can and will steal your soul. A bad day fishing is far, far better than a good day of almost anything else.
     
  6. electronrider

    electronrider Well-Known Member

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    The best thing you could do as a new fisherman is read read read. Filleting is about the best all around way to deal with almost all kinds of fish. I have never personnaly frozen a whole fish, ungutted or unscaled, and used it for personnal consumption later. Personnaly, I find that a bit repugnant, as when I fillet my fish, I am ablt to get a good look at the meat, to ensure theres no fatty tissue ( this is where toxins will be doposited), nor any worms in the fish either. Your best bet is to clean em after you have caught em, then process them into storage. As to a humane way to kill a fish, if your willing to stick a hook thru their mouth to pull em in the boat, than you should really be concerned about slicing their flesh from their bones.
     
  7. Farmer Willy

    Farmer Willy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've a few tips. I give fish a good whack on the head with a pipe just before cleaning them so they aren't suffering. If eating fresh, either fillet or gut and bake whole. You were correct, if baked whole the skin and scales lift off like a shell and enjoy. If freezing to eat later, gut and scale if smaller, fillet if larger. Freeze in a container of water (old cardboard milk cartons used to be the best). The ice works well to seal out the air and keeps the fish from drying out. Soaking in salt water changes the texture it seems to me. If you want it to taste good, keep it alive till you're ready to clean it, then either use it or freeze it as quick as you can. Even small pieces of fillet fish can be used as 'popcorn' fish if you batter it and fry it. Enjoy.
     
  8. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't mean to sound thick, but where do you whack them? on the top? Side of face?

    I bought a filet knife and a board--really cool like a clipboard. The cashier at walmart said, "someone has a fisherman for a husband" to which I replied. It's mine! I am learning how to fish, any advice? She said to make sure I got the "dark spot" on the spine.

    Are some of you suggesting that you could filet without having to gut a fish?
     
  9. oldmanriver

    oldmanriver Well-Known Member

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    filet them all no guts no mess much faster.....
     
  10. Definition of fishing: A jerk on one end of the line waiting for a jerk on the other end.

    I would advise you that you should find someone to teach you how to fillet fish before attempting it. A fillet knife is really sharp and you can do a good job of filleting the meat off your fingers if you don't know what you are doing. (Been there, done that)

    I, like wildcrotholler, cleaned fish the old fashion way for years till I watched someone filleting, then I tried it. And then for years the only way I would clean a fish was to fillet it. But the last few years I've kinda gone back to the old way in a sort. If I catch small fish such as sun perches or small sandbass I will skin them and cut their heads off. Much easier then scalling them. A big mess of fried sunperch's just can't get any better. Small fish are hardly worth filleting as you don't have much meat left to eat.

    To skin a fish:

    Start by using a small pocket knife and sharpen it good. Take a fish in one hand in the upright position and make a shallow cut from the back of the head all the way down to the tail. Make sure you cut around both sides of the dorsal fins. Then turn the fish over and make a second cut from underneath the jaw all the way down to the tail. Then on both sides, make a cut from the top back of the head down and around the gills and meet down where you cut from underneath the jaws. 4 major cuts all together. Then use a pair of pliers and grab the scaley skin right behind the head on each side and peel it all the way down and off the tail. Next grab the fins with the pliers and pull them free from the body. Then cut the head off and you have a left nice peice of fish (with bones) ready for the frying pan. This is a great technique for small fish.
     
  11. Farmer Willy

    Farmer Willy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I go with the theory that the only foolish question is the one you should have asked---but didn't. Hit on the top, imagine you was trying to whack the fish on the back of it's neck. And yes, when filleting fish no gutting involved. Cut behind head and down the length of the body (without cutting into the abdomen) until you finish at the tail. You should have a piece of fish covered with the skin and a fish carcess with a spine showing on one side. Use knife again on the fillet, flesh side up, skin side down and shave the flesh off of the skin. Bigger the fish the thicker the fillet. I've save some mighty thin fillets, thin but tasty. If it's catfish whack it on the head, pin the fish to a stump, fence post, ect. with an icepick through the head, slice skin behind head, pull skin off with pliers, then fillet meat off. Call me when ready, I'll bring the hush puppie batter.
     
  12. BillyGoat

    BillyGoat Well-Known Member

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    Since I don't bake fish whole, or eat skin on any fish I fillet all.

    Slit starting at the head and go down the spine. Hold buy the gill and fillet the meat off each side. Flip over and fillet the skin off laying fillet knife against the board.

    Oh, I keep my caught fish strung and in the water(lost one or two that way before though. If they look like they are starting to die off, then throw them in the ice chest.


    Dee
     
  13. rwinsouthla

    rwinsouthla Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I eat a lot of baked fish. Grew up with a dad with high cholestorol so all oil was off limits. This is only one way to clean the fish. No need to gut the fish at all. Put the filet knife and slice behind the fin that is behind the gill. Rest your knife on the spine and slowly run it down toward the tail. Don't cut all the way through the tail. When you can flip the filet over at the tail, place your knife at the meat/skin interface and start fileting the meat away from the skin. If you want to grill the fish, just cut the filet off at the tail with the scales still on. You can grill the fish on the grill with the scales down. You can add seasoning, lemon juice, butter if you wish and the scales hold it in. When the fish flakes away from the scales and skin, it is done. Good luck.
     
  14. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    the only time i actually eat what i catch is camping, and campfire fish cooking is easy,

    remove the head
    slit the belly and clean the guts out
    rinse it off with clean water.
    stick it on a long campfire fork and lightly sear it in the fire, the fat under the skin biols and the skin will sluff off the raw fish, no scales and no fat left. it doesnt work on some fish but on trout and sunfish, it works great.

    once the skins been flamed off, you toss em in a skillet with some oil and cook away.
    flake the meat off the bones when done.

    I'm not patient or picky enough to fillet or do it right.

    lol
     
  15. Rita

    Rita Well-Known Member Supporter

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    MidTNmama, Wish you were my neighbor we could go fishing together! Do you all know that you can eat the fins if they are fried nice and crisp?
     
  16. Thoughthound

    Thoughthound Well-Known Member

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    Whack 'em to stun 'em, but don't feel too bad if they are still moving when you cut.

    Fish brains aren't much more than bug brains, and few people worry about hurting bugs.

    Watch a nature show and you'll realize how lucky the fish are if a bear eats them head first.

    (That said, no person should intentionally be cruel to any living thing.)
     
  17. Country

    Country Well-Known Member

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    My husband had a charter fishing boat is south La so we ate tons of fish. He did all his fileting with an electric knife. The fish were good sized so it was easy. No scaling or gutting. That really cut down on time and with as many fish as he had to do, time was of the essence. He didn't have to worry about killing any fish as they were all dead before he got back to the dock. We used to grill some with the scales left on. A good marinade is Itallian salad dressing. Just put the filet in a foilpack and add the dressing. Wrap and grill. You can use the same method and use bar-b-que sauce with onions, garlic and bell peppers. Have mercy! I'm hungry. lol Enjoy your fishing. It's true that a bad day fishing is better than a good day working.
     
  18. ed/IL

    ed/IL Well-Known Member

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    We throw the fish on ice and they die fairly fast. They do not let you clean fish on water here because they cannot measure them to see if legal. The fish are fine. If I get home to late I clean the next day. No problem if kept ice cold. I think fish fillet easier after being iced for a while. For freezing many people put water in with fish to keep freezer burn away. Date bag. I try to eat fish as soon as I get them and freeze if I have to many. I have been making fish salad lately and love it. The usual mayo celery onion etc. Beats the heck out of tuna from a can.
     
  19. Country

    Country Well-Known Member

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    How do you cook the fish before making the salad?
     
  20. blufford

    blufford Well-Known Member Supporter

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    HOLY MACKEREL MID-TN MAMA, If you shad ever need to bream a fish just crab a herring knife and filet abay!!! :p