Fillet o’ Fish

Went off fishing with the kiddos again yesterday on another gorgeous, serene, completely empty Maine pond. A lovely evening–storm clouds all around us, but they kept skirting the horizon instead of coming over to dump rain on our pond. We saw a few loons and a bald eagle, and I managed to get through the whole evening without a single mosquito bite.

I must be doing something good.

We were after white perch, a fish that has no catch limit in Maine. And we caught many. How many? I stopped counting. 50? 60? It wasn’t as many as we’ve caught before at that pond, but then again, they were bigger than we usually catch there, too. We caught plenty, and none had to be thrown back for being too small. Great fun to see the kids having such a grand time.

It’s a well-established fact that I am not a fish eater. I love catching the things, but give me cow any day of the week when it comes eating time. So I didn’t bring many of our haul back to the house for us to consume–we sent them off with our guide for the evening. But I did take six. When he was driving off, I asked him if I should just clean these fish like normal, and he said he typically fillets them, but that cleaning them like normal would work okay, too.

I was all set to go the normal route, but Denisa thought we should fillet them if that’s what the experts do.

Quick, Robin! To the YouTubes!

It seemed pretty straightforward. I mean, I didn’t have a real filleting knife, but I could probably MacGuyver my way through that.

Fish number one? A complete disaster. The fish was so much tougher to cut through than it looked like on the video. I couldn’t figure out from the feel of it where the spine was and where exactly the ribs went. On the first side of the fish, I left a ton of meat on there, and I was feeling pretty discouraged. Enough that I was considering just abandoning the idea and gutting the fish the way God intended.

Denisa pep talked me into try try trying again, though, so try try try I did.

And naturally it became easier with practice. It’s surprising how easy it is to forget that simple principle: acquired skills are called that for a reason. You can’t start off being awesome at everything. By the sixth fish, I knew how much pressure I could use to slice off the skin, where to cut best to get the meat that’s all the way toward the tail–I was just better at it. Go figure. I’m still not an expert by any means, but it was a fun way to spend a half hour or so, despite the frustrations at the beginning. (Though I do wish I hadn’t started with the biggest fish. Feels like I wasted the most meat that way. The meat that I’m not going to eat. Hmm . . . )

Anyway. Check that off my bucket list. A big plus about filleting the fish was that there weren’t guts everywhere to clean up, so a big thumbs up on that account. A minus? I’m pretty sure I missed a few bones, so Denisa’s going to have some surprises when she eats the fish. The good news is she was right there next to me when I was doing it, so she’s aware of what lies in store.

And that’s the report for today. Have a great weekend, all!

Leave a comment