Sometimes pike and pickerel are shunned from the list of good eating fish because of “all those bones”. In just a few minutes, I watched longtime fisherman, Paul Kronenwetter, demonstrate how to get five boneless fillets from one pike fish. The pike was then cooked up in the most simple way, and it was delicious!
After you catch your fish, wrap it in some newspaper and put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes (if possible) to firm up the meat and get some of the slime off, making it easier to cut. Make sure you have a very sharp, flexible fillet knife and then follow these steps to five boneless fillets-
- Cut straight down behind the head to the top of the back bone (but not through the back bone!).
- Turn your fillet knife and run your blade down along the back bone towards the tail until you nearly reach the dorsal fin. You may feel your knife bumping the tops of the Y-bones. Turn your blade and cut up through the skin for your first boneless fillet.
- With your finger, find the row of Y-bones that run parallel on each side of the back bone.
- Using the tip of your knife, gently cut down about half an inch on the outside of the Y-bones. Then using your fingers to gently pull back the fillet while running your knife along the rib cage, free the fillet from all of those bones. Make a perpendicular cut in front of the fish vent. Cut away the belly fat and you have your second boneless fillet.
- Repeat on the other side and you have a third boneless fillet.
- Next cut the meat on each side of the tail just below the vent. There are no crazy Y-bones in the tail meat! This will yield two more boneless fillet cuts for a total of five fillets!
- Remove the skin with your fillet knife.
- There is a line of cartilage down the middle of the first fillet that was cut from the top of the fish. You may want to remove that which would then leave you with six boneless fillets.
- Pike is a mild white fish and can be cooked many different ways. This fish was cooked as a classic shore lunch with a light batter and fried. Delicious!
Paul Kronenwetter created this DVD a few years back (originally a VHS 🙂 ) with his classic filleting techniques explained along with tips on ice fishing and cooking the catch. The DVD is currently available at Rich & Verns store in Waterloo, NY and will be available to watch soon on the Wild Harvest Table YouTube channel…more to come. Thank you to Kuneytown Sportsmen Club for hosting this fillet demonstration!