They are great fighters, no matter what you call them. I can’t even remember the day I caught my first small-mouth bass, and I’m not sure what I ate with it. The first time I tried to fillet a fish, it was a failure. I tried filleting a bass with the same method I used to fillet walleyes. It was a huge mistake. Even on smaller fish, the rib cage bones can be very thick and are as strong as nails. There is a better way.
Instructions for Filling
It is similar to filling a small mouth. However, the bass is often larger and more fatter than the blue gill. The bone structure is almost the same. Place the fish belly-side down towards you, and then place the fish’s head on your right. This description assumes that you are right-handed. If you are left-handed, rotate the fish 180 degrees. Take the first cut and insert the fish just below the pectoral fin. Stop at the backbone.Rotate the fish, then use the tip of your blade to cut through the skin along the backbone.
The cut is not as deep as for a bluegill. You should only cut to the point where the ribs attach with the backbone. The dorsal fin is just past the point where the rib cage ends. The knife should now be inserted through the fish, so it comes out on the belly. Keep the knife blade at the top of the fish’s backbone/spine. Keep the knife’s flat side under pressure. Continue to cut towards the tail, ending at the tail. The fillet can now be attached to the belly and rib cage. To begin removing the meat from the ribs, lift the slab of fillet. Start at the back of your fish, and then work toward the front. It can be very difficult to follow the curve of your ribs. Practice makes perfect, as I’ve said repeatedly, so take your time. You will make the last cut through the belly to separate the fillet and the carcass. Flip the fish on the opposite side and continue the process. One side will always seem easier than the other. This is normal once you’ve filled many fish. My first few fish of the year are always a bit rough, but they all come back very quickly.
Now it is time to remove the fillet’s skin. This is the only task that can sometimes be made easier by using a less-sharp knife. This is because a very sharp knife can often cut right through skin and make it difficult to remove the rest of the knife. This is not a time to change knives. Just be careful that the blade doesn’t curve too much. You are almost done. The anatomy of the fish means that there will be 6-8 pieces of rib bone left in the fillet. They will measure about a half-inch in length. They will grow vertically into the fillet, and they are located along the line. Some anglers have been known to cut large portions of the fillet into a v-shaped shape in order to create a completely boneless fillet. This method is efficient, but it can waste a lot meat. You can also remove the pieces manually or use small pliers. They must be taken out of the fish fillets. It is a small price to be paid for some of the best tasting freshwater fish.
Good luck and healthy eating!