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How To Easily Fillet Freshwater Fish - Like Walleye

Updated on April 8, 2013

Filleting Walleye

Filleting Walleye
Filleting Walleye

Tools Of The Trade

It's important to have the right tools, in order to properly fillet fish. There are (3) basis: Sharp Fillet Knife, Gloves, & a Flat Level Surface.

There are good fillet knives, and there are very bad fillet knives. I personally have fallen in love with the Cutco Fisherman's Friend fillet knife - and for a number of reasons. One, the knife is incredibly sharp, has an adjustable blade from 6 to 9" (the perfect blade sizes for filleting freshwater fish), and has a perfect ergonomic grip. All these features make it incredible easy to fillet freshwater fish. All Cutco products have FREE lifetime sharpening, which is an added bonus.

I don't have a particular set of gloves or surface that I prefer for filleting; however, I will tell you that kevlar gloves (though a tad pricey) may be the way to go, as they have superior grip and also prevent any accidental cuts and nicks while filleting. Kevlar is of course the same material that bullet proof vests are made of, and therefore an excellent material for filleting.

Any flat surface will aid in the fillet process, just know there are a variety of fisherman friendly cutting boards out there to choose from. One of the "friendliest" is the cutting board that has a "clip" at one end, much like that of a clipboard, that allows the angler to "clip" the fishes tail while they work. While this is a very neat idea, and does a fairly descent job of holding the fish for you, it's rather annoying to have to constantly unclip the fish, to re-position.

The "Cuts"

The initial "cut" begins near at the head of the fish, cutting behind both "fins" in a single cut. You'll begin where the head (hard area) ends, and the flesh begins. Draw the blade down carefully, again - behind both fins - all the way down to the belly. For this cut, you will be utilizing the first 1 to 2" of your blade.

The second cut will begin at the source of your first cut, at the top of the head. Use the top 1 to 2" of your knife, to run the top of the blade down the spine of the fish, until you reach the end of the top dorsal fin.

When you've reached the end of the top dorsal fin, you're third cut will push the blade straight through the flesh of your fish, all the way through the belly - slowly working your blade to the tail. You'll be using most of your blades length for this.

Your last "cuts" will be to slowly and gently run the blade down the rib cage of the fish, making short strokes - until you're able to completely remove the fillet from the carcass.

You'll repeat these steps on the reverse side of the fish, until you've separated the second fillet.

Removing The Lateral Line

Removing The Lateral Line
Removing The Lateral Line

Removing The Lateral Line

Removing the lateral line (the dark colored flesh/line) running down the fillet, is simple and easy, and will go a long way in preventing the fishiness taste to your fillet. Begin by making two cuts at the small end (tail end) of your fillet - one 2" cut on either side of the lateral line. Next, gently pull the fillet/flesh from the lateral line. It will feel like you are "un-zippering" the fillet from the lateral line, and is very easy to do. If you are going to be battering and frying your fillets, removing the lateral line is generally not a step you'll have to take - as the hot oil and breading masks any "fishy" taste.

Repeat this step with the second strip of fillet. When you're done, you'll have beautiful fillets.

Walleye Shore Lunch

Walleye Shore Lunch
Walleye Shore Lunch

Walleye Recipes

As walleye is one of the most popular eating fish, there are naturally many resources for fantastic recipes. I'll share one of the most popular ways to prepare your walleye catch - in the traditional shore lunch manner:

Shore Lunch Recipe Special

2 cups of Bisquick
1 cup of flour
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon of cayenne papper
1/2 tablespoon of onion powder
1/2 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 tablespoon of popcorn salt

Mix ingredients vigorously in plastic bag until uniform in color. Roll or shake water-moistened fillets in dry coating and pan fry in skillet at 350 degrees on each side until golden brown.


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