Bluegill - Big Bluegill

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Howdy Y’all

This is how I clean Bluegills under 10” over that I filet them.

It’s also how to use that old toothbrush thats laying around, thats not used to clean your guns and reels

(please don’t mix them up they make the fish taste like WD-40 or Hoppes or CLP).

This is just the way I do it you may do it different that’s cool, however it’s done that get’s them cleaned and ready for the pan, fryer, smoker or grill.

I’ve set up the drawings in 4 sections:

 

 

1. The Spine cut and scaling (tools used; pocket folder 4” heavy blade also used to remove the scales)

2. De-fin (tools used; pair of wire cutters due to the heavy fins of cats bent the peelers so I switched)

3. Belly cut (tools used; filet knife)

4. De-heading and cleaning the gut cavity (tools used; 4” pocket folder, toothbrush and filet knife for those little pockets in the back)

I hope this helps those that may not know how to clean a fish yet you can print out this section of the first timers that way they know how to do it in the field as well as the cleaning station at home.

Section 1: I use my heavy folder to slice thru the side of the fish just below the ear tab and slice thru to the other side severing the spine then hose off the blood (the fish is still breathing and if done correctly it should still be by the time you remove the head) this keeps the fish from flopping and allows for a finger hold to help in scaling. I start at the tail and hold my knife at a slight angle away from the tail and scrape the scales off toward the head pay attention to the underside of the tail and between the anal fin and pelvic fins.

After both sides are de-scaled hose of the fish and working surface.

Section 2: De-fin the scaled fish, I begin with a pelvic fin with the wire cutters flush with the body from the rear side towards the head toss it in the waste bucket.

Next a pectoral fin with the wire cutters grasping the fin in the jaws twist a half turn and roll toward the head and pull off the fin and toss in the waste bucket.

Moving up to the dorsal fin begin in the rear of the fin cutting flush with the back and cut toward the head throw it in the bucket.

Next the pectoral fin on the opposite side in the same fashion as before.

Then the last pelvic fin as before.

Last the anal fin with the wire cutters starting from the tail side cut flush with the body towards the head and toss in the waste bucket.

Section 3: Slitting the belly. With the filleting knife cut from the anus toward the anal fin to help open the working area then place the filet knife into the anus and slice toward the pelvic plate between where the pelvic fins were this allows the easy removal of the head and most of the guts in the next section.

Section 4: Removing the head and clearing the guts out. I use my filet knife and flip the fish on it’s side drawing my knife along the line from the spine cut along the back if the gill plate and down to the pelvic plate to match the belly cut on that side, flipping the fish over do the same cut on the other side.

Grasp the head at the spine cut slot and pull it down and away from the body. This removes a majority of the guts attached to the head as well as most of the intestines, leaving the reproductive organs and lower intestine this helps you assure yourself of sex of your catch if your keeping up or for your post here on Big Bluegill. At this time if you lost any IRON (hook and snap in my case) I’ll remove that from the mouth or guts attached to the head and clean them off. (the acid from the fishes digestive tract will breakdown the hook and snap fairly fast). Now for the icky part I use my thumb and forefinger to grasp the reproductive organs and intestines and drag them out. Flip the fish carcass on it’s side then use my folder knife and scrape the sliver skin off the inside of the ribcage (cooking with the silver skin on leaves a nasty taste) holding the back of the carcass in hand scrape the gold air sac and leftover blood and guts along the spine to loosen them then use the toothbrush to brush them out. (hah you never knew the toothbrush was so handy).

Flush out the cavity with my hose and use either the filet or folder to get the leftovers if any and re-brush and flush. Now you have a clean cavity. Tilt up the carcass with the belly down just above the anal slot you’ll see a bump of membrane slice open this membrane and you’ll see a small grayish urinary bladder scrape this out of the pocket and flush the area with water, you can now scrape the outer skin to remove the ooze re-flush both sides and you have a fish ready for the fryer, grill, smoker or pan.

Happy eating.

Yours in service

James Acerra

 

Any tips or comments on what I’ve done or how you do it great. Enjoy the HOW TO and feel free to pass it on to the up and comers.

If you want the full size drawing added to the site please ask and I’ll add it to my pictures.

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Replies to This Discussion

Nice...I never tried that tooth brush thing....next time for sure.
I love cooking them this way....so much flavor!

Dandy pic's lovely meaty goodness.
Yours in service
James and Kathy
Thanks for a very well detailed HOW TO. Great job!

I have never de-fined a gill and am curious as to why you do it. We have always fried them with the fins and just pull the dorsal fin from the rear prior to eating. The other fins never seemed to be in the way when eating. You must know something I don't. What?

Also, I picked up a scaling tool at Bass Pro that I am impressed with. It really keeps the scales from flying. Here is a link and a pic.


http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10151_-1_1...
Howdy Boogie
When we used to fry the little 2" to 4" in a deep fryer at about 500° we left the fins on and ate the whole thing like a potato chip as Hors d'oeuvres the little bones fried away so the just crunched up just like the meat heavy salt fresh from the fryer.
But we found the larger fish wouldn’t so we just trimmed them off, mainly just habit I don’t find any difference in flavor, not like if you leave the silver skin on. I’ve heard they keep the ooze and can dirty up the flavor but that’s like a wife’s tale.
Thanks for the kudos
Yours in service
James and Kathy

Cute scaling tool but I kinda like the flying scales in the morning feels like VICTORY!!!!
We like to leave the tail on as it is a nice crispy addition as well, just be sure not to let one go vertical in your mouth.

Does not feel too good to have a piece of one stick in your Gums.
I have never tried a 2" inch fish, how did you ever clean one of those guys, it seems like if you wanted to go to the trouble these would be tasty though, and I have way to many in my pond so if you can give me some ideas I will give it a try.

Thanks
Howdy Zach
We just scaled and gutted them then cut the head off down to the pectrol plate just like in the above pic.
Use a finger or toothbrush to scoop out the trash and scrape the silver skin then fry the dickens out of them till crispy golden brown, if you eat the tail like a crispy treat this is just like a BG flavored chip.
Use salt, cajun, chipolte ect... to dust them fresh from the fryer so it sticks good to the damp oil set to dry and toss in a bowl for thick fish chips, yummy don't worry about the meat getting overdone the trick is not to burn them to a crisp but also fry the bones crunchy like the tail.
It took a bit of trial and error back in the day.
They used to like the old shad bake back in the Civil War http://civilwarinteractive.com/cooking/?cat=17 I've served them at Civil War events, them boys back then ate heads and all but I don't like my meal starin at me lol.
Enjoy and hope this helps.
Yours in service
James and Kathy
Good post, James. I have done them that way and it works well, but I don't do it that way unless I have a whole bunch to clean. My normal method is really "old school", better known as "the way my Granddaddy did it." ;-)

What we do is take the head off right behind the gills, after scaling of course. Then we make a v cut to eliminate the anal vent, then split the belly up the middle and scoop the guts out, leaving all the ribs, belly meat, and fins on there. I like doing it this way because I'm a nibbler when I eat them. I like to nibble the fins and tails when they're fried up all crispy, and I like to strip off every little fragment of meat from the bones. When I get through with them, it's like a bunch of little plastic things on the plate and the cat don't even want them.
I normally fillet all my fish with an electric knife, I've spoiled my family with no bones but I grew up eating them whole, and still like them that way. Scaleing was always the big chore untill I hooked up the electric high pressure washer. Just a little squirt and all the scales are gone. As for the fins , lateral , dorsal and tail , I remove them prior to cooking because thats the way my family always did it when I was growing up. My wife 's family always chewed on the tail and fins and said it was like potato chips,I say there is no meat on them,and they were just to lazy to remove them, yes I slept on the couch.
I catch them and eat them. The stuff between the pond and my plate her job.
Well if LOFR has to sleep on the couch, seems like Magnolia Rick should too!
I've had some pretty DanG good times on a couch, even taken some fine naps there. Yep, there's a lot to be said for a good couch!

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