How To Fillet Fish – A Video

One question that often crops up on sea fishing sites is "How do you fillet your catch?".

Well, thanks to modern technology, Alan Charlton shows you how to fillet cod and mackerel here. Just press play and you’ll see that it’s not as hard as many think. Alan has also added some notes t accompany the video (see below).

Many thanks to Alan for taking the time to produce this video. I speak on behalf of everyone who views it, I reckon, when I say that it is much appreciated.

Elton Murphy – Editor

1/ One of the most important things is a good sharp knife, there are three basic types of knife for filleting, the good old traditional long narrow bladed knife. A long broad bladed knike, which many chefs prefer and a short bladed (about 4-5inch) filleting knife. After using all three I find I prefer the traditional long narrow bladed knife and the more worn the better. Which ever you choose make sure it is very sharp or you will ruin the fish you are filleting.

2/The bones and skin of a fish will quite quickly dull the edge of your knife, keep sharpening it while you work. There are three main ways of sharpening a knife, the one I prefer is the good old oil stone. Other ways are the sharpners you can buy from any store or the traditional butchers steel.

3/ A good base to work on, and preferably near a sink with plenty of cold running water. Do not use hot water as even tepid water will slightly cook fish and if you have it on your hands it will take ages to rid of the fishy smell.

4/ A bucket handy to dump all the bits in and a decent towel to constantly wipe your hands with. Slippy and wet hands after a while get cold and this can lead to accidents. I know this by experience

In the videos I have tried to go as slow as possible so you can see what I am doing. I have also filletted the fish in such a way as to reduce the amount of mess, i.e. guts and also to make the fillets very presentable and also by skinning and boning making them very suitable for the finicky and children. If you are wondering about the belly flaps, with a fish under 4-5lb these are not worth much and are usually discarded unless there is enough then they will make fish cakes. I keep the bigger belly parts for the same use.

Some interesting points have been raised through discussions on other boards; I will try to answer them –

As I stated in the video, the fish used where freshly caught and the flesh is quite firm. If you are keeping the fish for a while before filleting them and you are not in a comp, gut or bleed them straight away. This prevents the blood tainting the flesh. Or keep them cold or in fresh water. If when you come to fillet a fish the flesh feels soft, gut the fish and leave it till the next day when the flesh will have firmed up. When the flesh softens depends on how they have been treated.

The best time to fillet a fish is when rigga sets in, nothing better than a good stiff un. I would not normally fillet a fish if it had been lying around uncared for, for any length of time. I also use the same method for all sizes of round fish even ling. That is leaving the belly flap on, and if of a decent size remove later and use for fish cakes. Only round fish I remove the belly flap from is the mackerel, which you can see from the video. These can be frozen and kept to use as bait, the shape and size makes them ideal casting baits, especially over on the west coast.

salinitysam of WSF has picked up on a very valid point, whenever possible try and wash your fillets in sea water as the chlorine in tap water can damage the flesh. I stated use running water, do not leave fillets lying in tap water, and I should have added dry your filets thoroughly after rinsing.

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