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Question about cleaning fish

does anyone here just fillet them without descaling or gutting them?  I have descaled them first then fillet them but was wondering it is was wise to just try and fillet and not worry about descale or gutting them?

wonnmeister6 years ago
I never gut fish and always fillet them.  But as far as de-scaling, it depends on the size of the fish.  I start by cutting out the meat on each side of the fish (this is usually the meat from the gills to the tail and above the rib cage)  To do this, insert your knife at the base of the tail and run it towards the fish's head until you feel the rib-cage.  Make a second cut just behind the gills.  Then insert your knife on top of the fish near the dorsal fin and just behind the gills, run the tip back towards the tail of the fish while using your fingers to peel the meat back.  Best to use the tip of a very sharp knife for this - it will bounce off of the rib cage with a light enough touch.

As to your de-scaling question:  If the fish is big enough to where you won't loose much meat when you fillet them, then leave the scales on.  For stripers and large bass I leave the scales on and once the fillet is off (as mentioned above) I flip it over and run the knife just above the skin to "de-skin" the fillet.  This takes the scales with the skin and doesn't cost much meat.  

However, for bluegill/crappie I de-scale them.  When you fillet a hand-size bluegill/crappie you will only end up with a small "chicken-nugget" sized piece of meat on each side, so I de-scale and leave the skin on.