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Preparing Fish: From Catch to Kitchen

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Weekend fishing trips tend to bring out the child who regularly threw in a few fishing lines with their granddad or sat around a campfire cooking fresh catch with their dad. 

There are a million different ways to cook fish stream-to-table, and every fisherman will have their ideal method of preparing a fish. 

If you’re heading out on the water and never cooked your catch before, you may be wondering how to do it. Here are some tips and tricks for catching fish and preparing it for your next meal. 

Tips for Catching Fish

People love fishing for the chance to be outdoors in nature, the meditative experience it delivers, the ability to catch up with friends and simply the thrill of the challenge of catching anything worthwhile.

According to the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, 16.5% of Americans ages six and up went fishing at least one time in 2017. However, you don’t have to be a master angler to start fishing. Here are four tips to help you reel in the catch of a lifetime.

  1. Purchase a Fishing License

Before you begin gathering your fishing gear, make sure to purchase a fishing license according to your state’s requirements. You can easily buy your fishing license online, and they typically vary depending on whether you’re fishing in freshwater or saltwater or from a boat or on land. 

  1. Decide Where You’re Fishing

Talk to experts to help you find the perfect fishing location to cast your line from. This could all depend on what type of fish you’re interested in catching. You may also decide to sign up with a fishing charter that will provide you with the necessary gear and take you to the perfect fishing spot.

  1. Buy Your Fishing Gear 

If you end up loving fishing or want to invest in some basic gear for the occasional outing, you can look for the essentials. There are a lot of great beginner’s fishing poles on the market that are inexpensive and easy to use. 

You’re also going to want to buy a spool of fishing line, different hooks, bobbers and weights, pliers for removing fish hooks and a knife. Don’t forget to purchase the correct type of fishing bait for the kind of fish you intend to catch, as well.

  1. Be Patient

The joy in fishing comes from spending quiet time by the water. Take your time and be patient. You may not catch anything right away, but it’s still worth it. 

Preparing a Fish the Right Way

There is nothing more rewarding than eating fresh fish you reeled in yourself. If you’ve gone fishing to catch your dinner, you’re going to need to know how to prepare a fish in a safe, clean manner.

  1. Humanely Kill Your Fish

Immediately after removing the hook, you should kill your fish using percussive stunning or “bonking.” Hit the fish between the eyes with a rock or tool to minimize its suffering. Once you’ve slaughtered the fish, use a sharp knife to cut into its gills from the bottom up. Then, massage the blood out of the body in the water and put the fish on ice. 

  1. Remove the Scales and Skin

Unlike trout’s thin skin and smoother scales, many fish may need their scales removed before cooking. Descaling is usually easiest when running a knife along the scales from the tail to the head. You may want to do this in a bag to prevent the scales from flying everywhere. 

Once you’ve finished descaling, you can remove the skin by sliding a fillet knife between the skin and fish meat.

  1. Remove the Insides

To remove the insides, open the belly of the fish by carefully cutting from the bottom to the top. Be careful not to cut too deep to prevent puncturing any organs. 

Slide one or two fingers along the insides to pull out the innards and throw them in the trash. Rinse the cavity and outside the fish very well until it’s thoroughly cleaned.

  1. Get Your Fish Ready for Cooking

Before tossing your fish into the fryer, oven or over an open flame, the last thing you should do is cut your fish into fillets. Some people may prefer fish steaks instead. You may also choose to leave your fish whole, but be sure to cut off the remaining fins with a knife or scissors. 

If you’re not ready to cook your fish right away, you can refrigerate it for one to two days or stick it in the freezer. If you’re camping and using a cooler, you can also place the fish in the cooler for a couple of days on ice. 

Cooking Your Fish

Once the messy part of preparing a fish is over, you can move on to cooking. However you decide to cook your fish is entirely up to you, but you have many options. For example, you can cook your fish in the following ways:

  • Season your fish and bake it in the oven.
  • Saute your fish for crispy, flaky meat.
  • Broil thicker fillets.
  • Microwave just about any boneless fish.
  • Throw your fish steaks on the grill.
  • Poach in wine, water, milk or stock.
  • Deep fry your cut.

Feel free to use whatever spices or herbs you enjoy the most, and top with your favorite sauces or fresh salsas. The possibilities are endless.

New Memories for the Making

If fishing sends you on a nostalgic journey to your childhood days, imagine the new memories you can make while catching and preparing your very own catch. It may take a bit of practice, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

Author Bio: Oscar Collins is the managing editor at Modded, where he writes about food, fitness and more. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates of his work.

Oscar Collins is the managing editor at Modded, where he writes about food, fitness and more. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates of his work.

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