How I dress large fish

Discussion in 'General Conversation' started by cuttingout69, Jun 12, 2006.

  1. cuttingout69

    cuttingout69 New Member

    Messages:
    1,349
    State:
    Louisiana
    I have had several people ask me how to clean a big fish. I have told some that I lift the tail and whip its rear and I have tried to explain others. Cleaning big fish with in itself is not controversial, but keeping big fish is. With so many people on the CPR kick these days, I am sure this thread will draw some unwanted post, but I am just trying to show how I clean a large fish and trim the fat away to make it very tasty. With the invention of the digital camera, I can now have my 13 old son take pictures at every stage and show you. So the following thread will be posted just to show how I clean big fish. It may take several post to enter all the pictures, so bare with me.

    First, I cut a V shape from the back center of the gills to the center of the head as shown in picture #1. You do not have to cut deep, just through the skin. Then I cut from the center of the head from the V down both sides of the dorsal fin. Gooboy showed me to make this extract cut on the dorsal fin to make it easier to skin around this area. Once these cuts are made, you can hang the fish up if you have not already done so. Some times, I will hang the fish then make the cuts. Either way works, it is just what you get use to and what works best for you. I use a set up a gentleman showed me a few years ago. I have some custom made gaffs that hang in the holder as you can see from the pictures. This allows me to take the gaff to the fish and then just set the gaff handle back in the holder on the skinning pole. On ops, I will make the same V cut on the belly side also with the V cut going almost all the way to the the fishes throat. This is not pictured as I was cleaning a blue. In the thrid picture you can see the diamond shape that will pull out of the fishes hide.
     

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  2. cuttingout69

    cuttingout69 New Member

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    1,349
    State:
    Louisiana
    Next I start pulling the hide just like on any other fish, except I will have the larger ones hanging. When you hang the fish, you can use both hands to pull with. My hands are in such bad shape, I have to use both hands most of the time. I will note, freshly caught fish skin much better than one caught and put on ice, or allowed to dry out. Keep your fish as fresh a possible and wet. You can see in the pictures that it takes some ump to pull the hide off larger fish.
     

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  3. cuttingout69

    cuttingout69 New Member

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    1,349
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    Louisiana
    Once the hide is removed, I will take the big layer of fat off the back while the fish is still hanging. I hold the fish with my left hand, pull him to me, and then cut the fat down off. I will pull the fish to about a 45* angle while making this cut. This will save time when you are doing your finally trimming of the meat.

    Now I take the my 5” blade knife and start just below the head and cut down beside the back bone and around the dorsal fin. I push the knife up against the back bone as close as I can get it and cut down to the tail. Once you clear the ribs, you can most of the time push the knife all the way through the fish and carry on cutting against the back bone to the end of the tail. It is just like removing a back strap from a deer for those of you who are deer hunters. Then I will cut all the way around the ribs to the rib ends and you have one side filleted. You do the other side the same way. On ops, I will remove the diamond shape from the belly by pulling from the sides to the middle then from the bottom to the top. If you pull from the top to the bottom you will rip the belly lose from the top most times and it just makes it harder to gut. To gut one while hanging, start at the bottom and cut up this will alone the insides to fall below your cutting edge and you want cut the gut. Once you have opened the belly, you can pull the inside out making sure you don’t cut or rupture the gall. The gall will stain the meat and make it taste bad. Once you have removed the insides, take your skinning pliers, remove the rest of the fat, blood, and float bag from the fish. Then you can trim the ops belly off for some of the best eating in the world. I personal do not eat blue bellies as they always have fishy taste to me. After all this you are ready to trim the meat.
     

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  4. Fatkat

    Fatkat New Member

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    979
    State:
    Blanchester, Ohio
    I used to do it that way, but I figured out its a whole lot easier not to skin it at all but to fillet it 1st then fillet the skin from the fillet. :smile2:
     
  5. cuttingout69

    cuttingout69 New Member

    Messages:
    1,349
    State:
    Louisiana
    I start my trimming by cutting the fillet in half long ways with center line on every catfish. You will see it, it is a crease right down the middle of the fillet running long ways. After you have it in half, take the fillet, lay it on its side and start with your knife at the point the red fat and the white meat come together. Start with you knife on and upward angle as the red fat rolls around the white meat at this point. Start slicing the fat off getting as close to the fat line as possible. Once have removed the fat, I then take the fillet and cut it cross grain into 3/8” thick slices.(not pictured) Just a note I made today, I trimmed 5.5 lbs of fat to get 8 lbs of white meat. There is some clear white fat at the ends that also need to be trimmed off and from the inside of the op bellies.
     

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  6. cuttingout69

    cuttingout69 New Member

    Messages:
    1,349
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    Louisiana
    I hope the pictures and this story help anyone who wishes to try some of the larger fish for a meal. I don’t keep every large fish I catch, but when I need a large a mount of fish in a hurry or for a large fish fry, one fish is some times all I need. And when all the red fat is trimmed away, there is no better eating than a large high fin blue or op.
     

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  7. thegavel

    thegavel New Member

    Messages:
    1,317
    State:
    West Des Moines, Iowa
    There is a much easier way to clean these big fish... I refuse to post pics of me cleaning them(PETA), but I will do my best to describe it for you.

    1)After knocking the fish unconcious with a large object (I use a hammer)
    2)Run a nail through his head into a board, table, telephone pole, or tree
    3) Cut off tail and let fish bleed out for about 5 minutes or until the blood stops coming out
    4)Break/cut the back fin and remove it by running the blade of your knife from the back to the front and using pliers to break the final fin
    5) Cut just about a half ince behind the gills up and around the top of the fish like a rainbow.
    6) use pliers to pull the skin off the back of the tail
    7) filet it out just like a regular fish from the backbone to the tail
    8) repeat on the other side
    9) there is two little nuggets in the head you can core out if you would like feel around the very top of the head and you will find them
    10) Flip the fish over.
    11)using your pliers again pull the belly skin back to the tail, you may have to finish your rainbow cut
    12) trim your belly meat the best you can
    13) when you are done you should have a head, spine and guts, takes about 15-20 minutes depending on how long you fight the skin!!!

    Good luck everyone! I used this method to clean the fish in my picture and it took me about 17 minutes
     
  8. solomon

    solomon New Member

    Messages:
    735
    State:
    MS
    Good info Tony. Just one question............Did your skinning pliers slip and catch the top of your head???:big_smile_2:
     
  9. cuttingout69

    cuttingout69 New Member

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    1,349
    State:
    Louisiana
    I will never live down not having on a hat I can see now. The boy needed some more light so I took the hat off and put he Q beam on it. :big_smile:
     
  10. cuttingout69

    cuttingout69 New Member

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    1,349
    State:
    Louisiana
    Well maybe PETA will put me on a poster and I will have my 15 min of fame. And brother, if it takes you 15-20 min to get to this point, you would be working all day around my table. I can have on to the point you describe in less than 5 mins and the whole fish trimmed and in bags in less than 12. And I am slow compared to ole Gooboy. When that fellow puts a knife to one, you better watch out, because the slim is fixing to fly. I have to hang fish over 10 lbs, he throws them on the table and takes the hide of with one hand on the head and the other on the pliers. He can put a 10lbs and under fish in the bag in about 7-10 mins trimmed.
     
  11. catsmith1

    catsmith1 New Member

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    1,073
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    Haughton, Louisiana
    Well done Tony. You did a great job of explaining it. Where is the purple shirt?
     
  12. sgt_rob

    sgt_rob Member

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    961
    State:
    Bossier City, LA
    Good job Tony. I am curious about the lions, tigers, and little horsies on your scales. Where did you get those? I've got to get me some!
     
  13. captain5214

    captain5214 New Member

    Messages:
    159
    State:
    louisiana
    good info tony, but i got a question.....what you do with the head, bones,skin and guts? do you boilem down and make fish stock soup? :big_smile:
     
  14. cuttingout69

    cuttingout69 New Member

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    1,349
    State:
    Louisiana
    Charlie, I leave that to yall on the other end of the state. Hey, I got a question for you. What can you make with a turtle? I sure would like to eat some turtle. Have to talk Eric into catching one.
     
  15. ar_confederate

    ar_confederate New Member

    Messages:
    863
    State:
    Minden, Lo
    Really great job Tony. I didn't know that about the red meat. I used to cut that out for white bass but didn't even think about it for cats.
     
  16. gooboy

    gooboy New Member

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    1,514
    State:
    Minden,La.
    Tony, that was a good schoolin' on the cleanin' of big fish. I imagine a lot of folks can learn somethin' there. Good job.
     
  17. Deltalover

    Deltalover New Member

    Messages:
    1,227
    State:
    Tracy Calif
    Thats a great explanation of how to clean big cats! I bet it don't take 10 minutes per fish though! I, like others, cut the skin off with a knife in a matter of seconds! I do think your post should go in the library. Well done!
     
  18. Mutt

    Mutt Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    18,486
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    Name:
    Mutt
    Good thread I agree with Phil it should go to the Library.
     
  19. FishMan

    FishMan New Member

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    2,293
    State:
    Tennessee
    Why go through all that. Here is how I clean a fish

    Cut the meat away from the fish
    Cut the skin away from the meat
    Trim and eat
     
  20. solomon

    solomon New Member

    Messages:
    735
    State:
    MS
    Well there you have it. PROOF that's there's more than one way to skin a cat:cool2: