Fish: You Catch 'Em, You Clean 'Em
Theorectially, I agree if you catch fish to eat, you should be able to clean them yourself. The feminist in me doesn't believe that cleaning fish is the "man's job." In practice, I've never had to clean my fish. My grandmother taught us to fish, and I grew up hearing "you catch 'em, you clean 'em," but I just never had to. Someone else always did it, usually DauDau (as we called my grandmother), before we even left the pier.
During the first few years of fishing with my husband, we caught a few here and there, and he usually cleaned them when we got home. It wasn't a big deal, until we had our first really big catch.
Coming home with over a hundred fish in the coolers after a weekend trip to the NC Outer Banks feels great! Until it's time to clean 'em. I decided, being the wonderful wife that I am, to learn to clean the fish and help my hubby.
Morally, after all, I knew if you catch 'em, you clean 'em.
Fish Cleaning System
Ken had a fish-cleaning station set up in our back yard: an old board plopped across two saw horses near the water hose. He had a system: I stood on one side of the table between the cooler with the fish and a bucket of water. I would scrape the scales from the fish, and he would cut the heads off and gut them and toss them into the bucket of water. The bucket was at the corner of the "table" and he stood on the other side. When a few fish accumulated in the bucket, he would pause to rinse them and put them into zip lock bags with water, ready for the freezer.
After a bag or so, I realized our table was on an incline, and I was standing on the highest ground and leaning way over to scrape the fish. My back was starting to hurt. If I could stand on the opposite side, I could actually stand up straight. So I asked if we could rearrange the cooler, bucket and water hose.
I know you can guess what happened. He exploded. Accussed me of trying to mess up his system. Said I was slowing him down.
Ken can be kind of unpleasant when he's hot and tired. I was kind of hot and tired myself, but rather than holding my own in the screaming match as I normally would, I stayed calm. I placed my spoon gently on the table and apologized for slowing him down, then I went into the house to finish the "women's work" of unpacking. I haven't offered to help since, and he if ever hints around for my help, I remind him that he had his chance to "teach" me.
My sister and I are headed to the Outer Banks in a couple of weeks without Ken. I bet if we catch any fish, she will probably make me clean mine. But I bet she won't fuss if I do it the way I want to!
How To Clean a Fish
Just because I haven't had to clean any fish doesn't mean I don't know how. I've watched, lots. And I just finished reviewing a few videos on youtube to refresh my memory. In this case, I'm talking about cleaning basically pan-sized fish, which we generally fry. How to filet a fish is a different subject for another hubber, as is cleaning any kind of fish that needs to be skinned. I don't have any experience with either. But for the fish we catch from the Outer Banks - mostly croaker, spot, puppy drum, mullet, flounder - and even pond fish like bass and crappy, this method will work.
First you scale them. There are lots of handy fish scaling tools available, but a spoon works just fine. Just don't skip a good sharp knife for the rest of the process. Next you cut off the head, just behind the gills. That part is icky but the third step is the nastiest. You gut 'em. Slice open the belly and yank out the innards. Finally, wash the fish and get ready to eat!
Copyright Dineane Whitaker 2008 - Please do not copy and paste this article, but feel free to post a link using this url: http://hubpages.com/_ndwcopyright/hub/Fish-You-Catch-Em--You-Clean-Em
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