Gone fishing: How to clean a fish

Whether you're new to the sport, or just never learned, here's how to clean a fish straight from the Minnesota DNR.
Scott Olson | Getty Images 2008

Fishing takes time and patience, so when you finally reel in that great catch at the walleye fishing opener this weekend you'll want to take your time to make a great fillet.

Check out the video below for a step-by-step tutorial on how to clean a walleye, by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stream habitat coordinator Brian Nerbonne.

The walleye used in the demonstration were collected as part of routine testing and were later fed to the bald eagles featured on the DNR's live stream.

Step by step

1) Using a fillet knife, start underneath the fin, behind the gills, and cut diagonally until you feel your knife hit the backbone.

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2) Cut along the top of the fish, going in until you feel the ribs. Once you get to the bottom fin of the fish you should be able to cut all the way through, feeling for where the backbone is so you don't lose any of the meat along the fillet. Stop at the back fin, leaving it attached to the fish.

3) Remove the rest of the fillet by cutting away from the ribs, staying as close to the bones as possible to get the most meat. Again, when you reach the bottom of the fish, leave the fillet attached.

4) Flip the fillet out and hold on to the body of the fish as you cut the skin off of the bottom side of the fillet.

5) Cut the remaining bones out of the lateral line of the fillet by making small cuts on either side of the center and pulling out the strip.

More tips

• Keep your fish in cold or iced water after you catch them to keep them fresh.

• To kill the fish, push your blade into the top of the fish's head, between the eyes, and twist.

• You can use a variety of blades, but thin fillet knives work great for close cuts.

Online resources

• Looking for a certain fish? Check the DNR's LakeFinder

• Know the rules: Fishing regulations

• All things outdoors: The Minnesota DNR website