Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

here goes,  cleaning large panfish, filet? or dcale and gut and whack head off, or do you whack head off or tail off or cut fins out??

never caught bluegill big enough to filet

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When I was growing up, we would generally only keep "serving size" bass. Larger ones are of more inconsistent quality (taste and texture often not as good) and were more of a pain to deal with. We just scaled, de-headed and gutted everything and fried it up. About the only thing we filleted was big saltwater fish. Big catfish went back in the drink also.

Skin and filet.    If not big enough? release and catch another..

I usually don't keep gill's that aren't big enough to fillet, unless gut hooked. I don't scale them before I fillet them because I prefer to skin them as well while I'm at it. If I have to keep any smaller fish I do them the same as "McSruff" i.e. scale, de-head, eviscerate and remove the fins, except the tail as my wife likes to munch on them ... me... not so much. 

For breading for frying, I usually dredge my fish in flour, then in beaten eggs, then in Progresso Italian flavored bread crumbs. But I like lots of different types of breading, other than Yellow Cornmeal, guess that's the Yankee in me as I never had it growing up in New England. Which amazes my wife, cause according to her I'll eat anything that won't eat me first.   

I don't care much for cornmeal alone as a breading.
But I do like to add a small portion to the total.
It gives a bit of "tooth," you might say.

Yeah David, that's one of the reasons I like using the It. bread crumbs is the texture. It is the same breading we use for Chicken Parmigiana.  I might have to try breading with some white cornmeal though, because I make cornbread with a half & half mixture of white cornmeal and flour and love that.

Yeah add about 1/3 as cornmeal.
Or, use even less of GRITS!
Talk about some crackle.....

.  Do you eat a bean? If it's larger than a Bean, Have at it...As for me, If its not large enough to filet, I release it and catch some that are.. Most important, A SHARP knife. Skin, filet, batter and fry. No fuss no muss...Yummy... Some folks are "grillers"

actually if i was going for gills to harvest my slot was 6 to 8 inches... im reducing that to 5 to 7 inches this year in a couple different lakes.

im actually embarrassed to say at what size i kept of the small perch. battered and fried they were the size of shrimp and delicious.

and of course at any size knife sharpness is utmost importance... the point im trying to make is by adding a fillet knife of this size to your cutlery selection you wouldn't think twice about sizing a fish to fillet.

larger knives just butchered the small fillets

4" Rapala fillet knife... you would not believe the small fish i filleted with this thing. 

there was an informal verbal bulletin on wixom lake last ice fishing season was to harvest as many small perch as you possibly could and keep. so i obliged. some of those fillets resulted in shrimp sized cuts... but were they good! generally you are doing your lake a service by keeping the smaller ones and releasing the big ones.this tool makes that job remarkably easy

We have the same thing with white perch here, except that want us to keep them all and can even net them. No limit. Letting them get in Piedmont lakes was a mistake they are trying to erase.

I have mixed feelings on filleting gills. Some ways I like to cook them don't work as well without a fairly substantial thickness and they are much easier to grill skin on. And then there is the nostalgia factor...

the first time i cooked these small perch fillets i battered and fried... everyone loved them ... but i couldn't really taste the fish... so later in the week i heated up my cast iron skillet glazed the little fillets in olive oil baked at 350... chilled them and ate them with melted butter... oh mee gosh.

 the perch are so nice to fillet at any size.... also the smaller the fish the healthier it is for you to eat rather than some 8 year old bluegill full of pesticides.

Yep perch jerking is an overlooked activity here, too.
No limit, no restrictions, and only a few anglers go for them.

They're good to eat and once you figure out their patterns, they are reliable.

Here's another tidbt - white perch grow fast, but live relatively short lives in clean open water.
This means they don't collect the audial toxins in their flesh as other fish.... And there are plenty of them. If you have a boat and can get to 20-30 of water, you can be in fish year round.

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