View Full Version : Cleaning big salmon?

08-30-2005, 08:38 AM
Caught a 32LB salmon sat at 10 mile and had some trouble cleaning it. I started by gutting it and then tried flieting it it was very difficult any body got a good way to do this without losing a lot of meat? ???

08-30-2005, 08:50 AM
I had the same problem...just steak it.

Or if you know you're going to fillet, don't even clean it, just fillet. imho

08-30-2005, 09:19 AM
Bigger fish are a little easier with a longer knife, I have about 6-7 different knives I use for different types of fish.

I use the Dexter Russel 10-12 inch cimetar knife for big stuff.

You can do it with a smaller knife it just takes a little longer.

I start with a cut behind the gill at what will be the big end of the fillet cut all the way to the backbone.

I then do a cut all the way down the back through the skin and an inch or so into the meat (go along the backbone or dorsal ribs) to the tail area.

Then just slide the knife along those dorsal ribs from head to tail all the way to the backbone.

You'll have to go over the backbone and cut through the body cavity ribs and seperate the meat from the lower quarter behind the body cavity.

By this time the fillet will be just about off the carcass and you can process as you see fit.

A couple of things...

A good cutting area really helps to do a good job cleaning your fish and as I said having the right knives for the job really helps.

Also have them sharp and have either a good stone or a hone (Diamond type) right there with you so you can touch up the edge while you cut fish.

If you think a 32 pound salmon was a chore you should attempt a 100# YFT...that take 2 people and it's more like slaughtering a hog. lol

As for what type of fillet knives you should get/use that's a subject for a whole thread of its own.

here's a link with pictures of lot and lots of kneet knives.



PS... last but not least cut careful and always count yer fingers when done. *;) (Grin)

There is a pretty nice Kevlar mesh cut proof glove out there for those that can't tell where the fish stops and the fingers begin. ;D

08-30-2005, 09:33 AM
To fillet a large fish:

1) Use a proper fillet knife that has a 9" blade.

2) Cut to the backbone behind the gills by angling the knife toward the gills. This slices under the scales and makes the cutting easier and does not dull the blade.

3) Make a shallow cut along the top of the fish from the initial transverse cut to the tail. Just go deep enough to position the cut over the fin rays as they go into the flesh.

4) Make a second slice from the transverse cut along the backbone to the tail. Lift the meat at the transverse cut and "feel" along the vertical spines with the blade. Don't try to cut any further than the backbone where the ribs start. This point is along the lateral line of the fish. Cut through the pin bones above the ribs, but not into the rib cavity.

5) Lift the meat away from the bones and slice along the outside of the rib cage. This takes a couple of slices. Stop at the vent each time.

6) Once the meat is away from the ribs, push the blade all the way through to the vent and complete the job by cutting the meat below the backbone to the tail.

To steak a large fish:

1) Gut and remove the head. Scrape out the kidney (the blood line along the backbone) with a spoon after by cutting the membrane on either side with the knife.

2) Using the fillet knife, "mark" each steak by cutting through the skin on one side of the fish at 1"-2" intervals.

3) Cut each steak to the backbone with the fillet knife.

4) Cut through the backbone using a boning knife with a heavy blade. There are 2 ways to do this. If you have a knife with a serrated blade you can just saw through the bone. An easier way is to take a standard heavy boning knife hit the base of the upper part of the blade with a mallet or hammer. Just cut through the bone.

5) Finish cutting the steaks with the fillet knife.

Cut steaks back to the vent of the fish. Fillet the tail.

08-30-2005, 10:55 AM
Caught a 32LB salmon sat at 10 mile and had some trouble cleaning it. I started by gutting it and then tried flieting it it was very difficult any body got a good way to do this without losing a lot of meat? ???

First of all, nice job. That's a HOG! :D

Jan and Doc offered some excellent instructions. BUT, if you want it done correctly ...

First, the next time you catch a HOG like that, make sure to cut a gill or two and let it bleed in the water.

Then keep that meat as cool as possible.

Place it on ice.

Remove the guts and gills as soon as possible.

Again, get it back on ice as soon as possible.

Pack it well, like in a styrofoam box.

Pack ice on the bottom.

Place the fish on top of the ice.

Pack more ice on top of the fish.

Seal the box well.

Place the box on a shaded, cool surface ... like the concrete in your front porch.

Email me your address.

I will pick up the box, fillet it for you, and return the fish, cut, vacu-sealed and on ice.

This can be done without you losing too much meat. ;D ;D ;D

08-30-2005, 11:43 AM
Keep it cool and use a bigger filet knife.

08-30-2005, 04:15 PM
Steaks, steaks, big steaks galore! ;)

08-30-2005, 06:44 PM
i always cut off the 2(1 if its a hatchery) fins on the back before i gut and start to fillet. it makes sliding the knife down the spine so much easier and i can save more meat this way. give it a try

08-30-2005, 08:02 PM
With big salmon like that I would steak the larger portion and fillet the tail section. I like to have a combination of the two.

08-30-2005, 08:06 PM
you will loose less meat that way...

and on the biggest part of the body,
cut the steaks into 4-5" large steaks so
you can bake it for large servings like 5-6 people.

and then you can cut large steaks from mid stomach back
and control the size better and it will work out to
just the right size for a hungery man helping...lol

its always cool 8) showing up with
giant steaks for the b-que,
it drives your friends wild....

08-30-2005, 08:53 PM
After you fillet, even if you do it sloppily and leave a lot of meat, you can use just about every part of the fish(minus the gutss) by making fish stock out of the remaining meat on the bones. Make salmon chowder from that. My personal preference for cleaning is, fillets for smoking, steaks for bbqing. For other cooking methods I don't really care which I use.

08-30-2005, 11:28 PM
With big salmon like that I would steak the larger portion and fillet the tail section. *I like to have a combination of the two.

Hey.. I like that idea. I'll have to try that... if I can get lucky enough to get a fish that big. ::)

08-31-2005, 06:10 AM
If you only keep the 15-20 lb fish they are better eating and less work to clean.And also the large one's may help the gene pool.

08-31-2005, 09:25 AM
Don't forget to save the cheeks on those hogs!! ;)

Carcasses can be used for
1. crab bait
2. soup (boullabaise) in a net bag
3.Fertilizer for your fruit trees
4.If your not very proficient there may be a fair amount left on the bones...save this by trimming the small pieces and poaching those small pieces for use in salmon farfalli with bowtie pasta....MMMMM

08-31-2005, 12:13 PM
There are some step by step instruction here with nice photos http://www.salmonuniversity.com/index.html

go to how to fillet salmon

08-31-2005, 12:57 PM
Very nice seaduck, thanks for that link

Those guys really dress it up....suit and tie ;D

08-31-2005, 01:14 PM
You might also give their smoked salmon a try

09-02-2005, 07:16 AM
Thanks for all the good info, I like the steak it out and filet the tail section method. Also I need and longer knife.

09-02-2005, 12:06 PM
One of the better links for "how to-ers" out there. I am lucky that my buddy is a chef so he just whips it up like he cutting bait or something. But that link has great info on things to do that even he doesnt do...I'll show him ;D