As the weather brightens, more anglers will be heading to our incomparably picturesque lakes and rivers for fishing. While some species of fish are meant for catch-and-release, there are still plenty you can take home for dinner. Use these tips on how to clean the fish you catch for easy preparation.
New Hampshire’s stock of bass, trout, and salmon is bountiful. The Monadnock Region boasts numerous lakes and ponds which permit public fishing. You can find several of them listed on the Discover Monadnock Boating & Fishing Page!
Equipment for Cleaning
- A table or surface
- Fillet knife
- Scaling tool
- Bucket for discards
- Zip-top plastic bags
Scaling the Fish
With the fish’s head in one hand, use a scaling tool to make short scraping motions. Start from the tail and move toward the head. Be careful around the fins’ sharp edges. Scale up to the gills and then rinse in water.
Cleaning and Gutting
Find the fish’s anus on its belly and insert your knife. Slice slowly toward the fish’s head until you reach the base of the gills. Open up the fish to remove the entrails with your hands. Check to see if the fish has a kidney that’s located near the spine. The best way to remove it is with a spoon.
Some fish have a darkened inner membrane. That has to go, or it’ll affect the flavor of the fish (and not in a good way). You can remove the head by cutting behind the gills. Rinse the fish inside and out.
Filleting for Cooking
The best tips on how to clean the fish you catch will let you skip a step or two, so here’s a good one. If you landed a big one, you can fillet it instead of scaling it. Start by laying the fish on its side, holding the head firmly. Insert your fillet knife behind the pectoral fin. You’ll cut downward until you get to the backbone.
At this point, turn your knife until it’s flat, with the sharp edge pointing toward the tail. Saw slowly downward, staying close to the backbone. Once you’ve gotten through the tail, turn the scale side down on the table. Then put your knife between the flesh and skin, using the same sawing motion to remove the meat. Repeat on the other side and rinse.
Getting Them Home
Placing your catch in sealed plastic bags will cut down on the smell, but your real secret weapon is ice. Lots of it. If you’re bringing back several fish, layer the ice so that they all stay fresh until you can prep them for dinner.