fillet a northern pike

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mitchkeller87's picture
mitchkeller87
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fillet a northern pike

I am catching a few northern when I go fishing and I am keeping them and trying to fillet them. I am having a heck of a time with the damn bones. I have watched video and looked at article on them and still cant do it. Just wondering if someone in the minot area has any tips or could show me next time I go out. Thanks

Bowhuntin
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The NDG&F Dept. website has good information on removing the Y bones from northerns.

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Bowhuntin Said:
The NDG&F Dept. website has good information on removing the Y bones from northerns.

It does take some practice. Keep trying - you have all Winter to figure it out! ; )

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multi-species-angler
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Keep in mind, bigger pike are much much easier to fillet.  I won't even bother unless their 8lbs or bigger.

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I just am getting little pieces and feel like im ruining lots of good fish.

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I found out if you try cutting the fish into about 4-5 inch pieces( each side of the fish)about the length of your knife. That way you are not trying to take all the bones out at once. And yes practice on bigger pike until you get the hang of it

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You're gonna F up a few fillets trying to figure it out.  Just keep at it and it will go smoother with practice. 

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If you like pickled northern then there is a really simple way for doing it. I fillet the fish just like I would a walleye (removing the skin and rib bones). Then instead of worrying about cutting the Y-bone out and wasting meat; I feel the inside of the fillet moving from tail to head and find where the Y-bone starts. Go back a little bit from that point and cut the tail off (boneless piece). After that run your knife length-wise along the laternal line of the fillet (you do not have to cut all of the way through on this cut) and pull the two pieces apart.  The belly meat will be another boneless peice and the top (back) piece I then use for pickling. That back peice makes good chucks of meat for the pickling process.

If you do not like pickled fish then I would go to the ND G&F website and there is a link on their home page for removing Y-bones.

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 Like these guys said, practice practice practice. You do get what seems like less meat but just keep at it there is plenty pike out there right now.

I dont go around guessing cup sizes either I just know a nice rack when I see one.

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 Like these guys said, practice practice practice. You do get what seems like less meat but just keep at it there is plenty pike out there right now.

I dont go around guessing cup sizes either I just know a nice rack when I see one.

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I tried the game and fish website tonight and it didnt seem to help. After I cut what I thought was the y-bone I felt the fish and felt tons of bones still. I guess I will have to keep trying.

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mitchkeller87 Said:
I tried the game and fish website tonight and it didnt seem to help. After I cut what I thought was the y-bone I felt the fish and felt tons of bones still. I guess I will have to keep trying.

It gets easier if you can watch someone do it once. Keep trying though, you'll get
it figured out. ; ) It is alot easier to do on bigger fish.

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"If it doesn't have BEER it ain't Heaven!" - - - Mr. Mike

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mitchkeller87 Said:
I tried the game and fish website tonight and it didnt seem to help. After I cut what I thought was the y-bone I felt the fish and felt tons of bones still. I guess I will have to keep trying.

Are you using an electric  knife or regular? The key is to use an electric to initially  fillet them and take out the ribs, and then use a really sharp regular fillet knife to get the y-bones out.  That way u can feel the bones with the knife and just glide right along them.

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Yeah dont use an electric to remove the Y bones, thats tough! Also i find it harder on the small fish if you use a knife thats TOO sharp, a thin blade is good, but if its SHARP you will cut through them easier. Practice on 6 to 10 lb fish till you get good at it.

dbllung
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do what In-Velvet said, and one of the key fecets to make this work well  is to let the fillets soak overnight in ice-cold water so the fillets firm up real well. I find this makes them much easier to work with. Keep at it, it will get easier. Good Luck!!

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Best thing I've seen:

http://youtu.be/k1pwb8NzoMI

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mitchkeller87 Said:
I just am getting little pieces and feel like im ruining lots of good fish.

I too am a firm believer in practicing on larger fish as well especially because larger fish have bigger bones.  You will be less likely to cut through the thicker bones on the bigger fish.   IF you don't fillet a lot of  northern pike, you will always be referring to the video on how to do it or print on how to do it.   

OR if you like  to bake your fish, leave the Y bones in, bake the fish the way you like and when done, let it sit for a few minutes.   Take a butter knife and separate the fillet into two equal pieces by cutting the meat lengthwise down to the bone.  Walla!!! there are your pike's Y bones.   Pluck them out and enjoy the fillets.   AND quit wasting the meat.    

I've done it both ways and prefer to bake the fish with the y-bones in.   Takes a lot less time to pluck the bones after it has been cooked than when the fish is right out of  the lake.   And you waste less meat by cooking it with the bones in.  

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I learned out to remove the bones from a northern several years ago and alway felt bad about the strip of meat that got thrown away with the y-bones.   About a couple years ago, I tried something with those y-bones that worked awesome and now all my buddies and family members do it.  Try it for yourself, you will enjoy it.

Take out the y-bones from your northerns.  Instead of throwing those strips with the y-bones away, put them in a large pot,  cover with either water or sprite and boil them until done.   remove from the pot, drain, and rinse to cool the strips.   With your fingers or knife, remove the Y-bones from the strips.  Don't worry about how the meat looks after taking out the y-bones.   When you have all the y-bones removed, place all the cooked meat in a bowl, add pepper, ketchup, and garlic to taste.    mash up the meat really good to mix in the spices/ketchup.   Place in fridge for a while to cool down even more.    Serve the mixture by placing a spoon full on Ritz or Club crackers and your favorite beverage.    It is awesome!     No one will know it is Northern Pike that they are eating. 

If you want to save time and not mix in pepper, ketchup, garlic, just dump in a bottle of cocktail sauce.  

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multi-species-angler Said:
Keep in mind, bigger pike are much much easier to fillet.  I won't even bother unless their 8lbs or bigger.

Another thing I do with smaller pike is taking three fillet instead of the five, as they show in videos & print.

Simply take the steak portion from the top of the head all they way to the dorsal fin (top of the body).   Then, take both sides from the dorsal fin all the way back to the tail (2 more steaks).   Leave the y-bone side fillets action for larger fish and don't even worry about the smaller fish from 2lb-6lb range.

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If I get a whole mess of pike I will grind the y bone strips and any other meat scraps and then cook it and feed it to my dog, he loves a cup of ground fish dumped over his regular dry food, but its a bit of a hassle.

64mustang Said:
I learned out to remove the bones from a northern several years ago and alway felt bad about the strip of meat that got thrown away with the y-bones.   About a couple years ago, I tried something with those y-bones that worked awesome and now all my buddies and family members do it.  Try it for yourself, you will enjoy it.

Take out the y-bones from your northerns.  Instead of throwing those strips with the y-bones away, put them in a large pot,  cover with either water or sprite and boil them until done.   remove from the pot, drain, and rinse to cool the strips.   With your fingers or knife, remove the Y-bones from the strips.  Don't worry about how the meat looks after taking out the y-bones.   When you have all the y-bones removed, place all the cooked meat in a bowl, add pepper, ketchup, and garlic to taste.    mash up the meat really good to mix in the spices/ketchup.   Place in fridge for a while to cool down even more.    Serve the mixture by placing a spoon full on Ritz or Club crackers and your favorite beverage.    It is awesome!     No one will know it is Northern Pike that they are eating. 

If you want to save time and not mix in pepper, ketchup, garlic, just dump in a bottle of cocktail sauce.  

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Besides lots of practice, a super sharp knife is very important, I dont use the same knife to debone as I do to fillet the fish, also, If  the fillets are left in ice water for a couple hours it firms up some and makes it easier to deal with.... If you were around bismarck I sure would show you how I do it.  Youtube has tons of vids on the subject, some good, most not so good, thats where I learned,  good luck!

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64mustang Said:
I learned out to remove the bones from a northern several years ago and alway felt bad about the strip of meat that got thrown away with the y-bones.   About a couple years ago, I tried something with those y-bones that worked awesome and now all my buddies and family members do it.  Try it for yourself, you will enjoy it.

Take out the y-bones from your northerns.  Instead of throwing those strips with the y-bones away, put them in a large pot,  cover with either water or sprite and boil them until done.   remove from the pot, drain, and rinse to cool the strips.   With your fingers or knife, remove the Y-bones from the strips.  Don't worry about how the meat looks after taking out the y-bones.   When you have all the y-bones removed, place all the cooked meat in a bowl, add pepper, ketchup, and garlic to taste.    mash up the meat really good to mix in the spices/ketchup.   Place in fridge for a while to cool down even more.    Serve the mixture by placing a spoon full on Ritz or Club crackers and your favorite beverage.    It is awesome!     No one will know it is Northern Pike that they are eating. 

If you want to save time and not mix in pepper, ketchup, garlic, just dump in a bottle of cocktail sauce.  

Thats a pretty good idea! If a person likes the party "dip" that consists of a layer of cream cheese then a layer of cocktail sauce then a layer of  shrimp I would guess replacing the shrimp with the pike mixture might be pretty darn good as well. Maybe skip the ketchup if you use with cocktail sauce.

I dont go around guessing cup sizes either I just know a nice rack when I see one.

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I need to get a better knife. I use an electric knife on walleye but I tried a dull knife on northern so far. I am going to try the baking of the fillet one time and try the  video the next fillet. Lost of good tips on here. Everyone has there own ideas and ways.

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Lycanthrope Said:
If I get a whole mess of pike I will grind the y bone strips and any other meat scraps and then cook it and feed it to my dog, he loves a cup of ground fish dumped over his regular dry food, but its a bit of a hassle.

Do you have to cook the heck out of it so the bones dissolve ??    

 

 

 

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 Make the trip to Bismarck with a limit of northern's and someone will show you how. Looks like the Fishingbuddy's in Minot either aren't willing or don't know how to show you first hand 

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Lycanthrope Said:
If I get a whole mess of pike I will grind the y bone strips and any other meat scraps and then cook it and feed it to my dog, he loves a cup of ground fish dumped over his regular dry food, but its a bit of a hassle.

I do the same thing with walleye and perch 

You can't aim a duck to death.