How to Gut a Fish 10717

It’s a messy job, but someone needs to do it. Why not you? Make gutting a fish as easy as possible by following these simple steps. Heck, print this out and tape it on your RV’s wall so you can follow along as you gut.

fishing for trout in a stream

Find a clean, flat workspace – Those of you who have an RV with an outdoor kitchen have an ideal workspace outside, which is where fish guts really belong.

Use a clean sink – You’ll need water, and always remember to keep the fish somewhere other than on the counter.

Get a cutting board –  Placing your fish directly on the counter is not recommended, especially if you’re a germaphobe. Make sure the cutting board you use is clean.

Handling the fish – You should handle the fish as little as possible before you cut it. It’s a bacteria issue.

Kill it – Be nice and kill the fish swiftly. Some of you might like to cook the fish with its head still attached. Doing that’s okay, but club the fish hard and fast to kill it. Don’t be gentle, just hit it right behind the eyes on the back above the gills. Or, if you want to cook it without the head, take a sharp knife and cut the head off in one swift motion. Cutting the head off is not recommended if you caught a shark or something of that size.

Scale the fish – If you are thinking about eating the skin, scale. If not, skip it. If you insist upon scaling, take the back of your sharp knife and move it along the fish’s sides from tail to head to release the scales.

Cut open the fish – Put the fish flat on your cutting board and cut a straight line preferably with a sharp blade (serrated or non-serrated, depending on your preference) along the underbelly. Why it’s called the underbelly is a mystery. It’s the belly. Slice from tail to head. Make the cut shallow enough to get into the fish, but not so deep that you get into the guts.

removing the guts from a fish

Take out the guts – The guts are the fish’s organs. You should be able to get most of the guts in one pull from head to tail. To do this, grab the spot where the head was attached at the fish’s top/back and pull toward the tail. Any guts that don’t come out in the first motion you’ll need to dig out with a spoon. Don’t use the knife for this, because a knife might break organs and possibly spread bacteria.

Remove the spine – The spine is the red line running along the back of the fish. Take it out.

Wash out your gutted fish – Wash the fish thoroughly with water and double-check to make sure the guts are all out.

Cook and eat – If you are planning on eating your fish another day, immediately freeze it. If you’re going to eat it that day but later, pack it in ice.

cooking and eating fresh trout

To Fillet or Not Fillet

If your fish can be filleted (some may be too small), and you want to put forth the effort, it’s recommended you gut it first. After gutting, cut off the head and tail. Then spread the fish out, with the skin down. Remove the ribcage by taking your sharp knife and slicing down the middle between the sides and then pull up to release the flesh from the bone. Lay the now de-boned fish down and slice off the skin starting where the tail had been and work toward the now-headless front.

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