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Now available from R. Karl, step-by-step
instructions on filleting all four of the most popular freshwater gamefish (northern
bass and bluegill)
bundled as one downloadable .zip file for only 3.99!
Sample page of complete Y-Bones Article
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I was about 10 years old, my father took the family to Ontario, Canada
to a place called Lac de Milles Lacs. I had no clue where I was but it
was gorgeous and way back in the woods. My mom didn’t complain, but my
sister was not very happy with the accommodations… No electricity, no
running water except for a pump in the kitchen sink and the “facilities”
were about 30 meters behind the cabin. The lake was full of leeches and
bears roaming the woods kept us in the cabin at night. However, it was
some of the best walleye fishing I have ever experienced. In fact, I
remember one particular afternoon during which a “triple” was more of
the rule than the exception. More importantly, I saw my first walleye
cleaned and filleted by a family friend who was also on the trip. Ray
was a great outdoorsman with a belly laugh that could make anyone
appreciate his smile. And after a stringer of ‘eyes was brought in, he
was as fast as lightning with a fillet knife. In fact, he was faster
than anyone I have ever seen, before or since – I later nicknamed him
“30-Second Ray” – and the finished fillet was as if prepared by a
I thought: “this is easy” and asked if I could give it a try. I failed
miserably on my first attempt (a 1 ½ lb. walleye was reduced to a patch
of flesh about 10cm long and Ray exploded with laughter), but I swore to
emulate the work of Ray. After 30 years of filleting walleyes using the
same method I learned from my mentor, I actually got pretty good –
albeit never as fast. One summer, a resort owner in northern Minnesota
showed me a different way. I was amazed at how easy it was. The finished
product yielded as much if not more fillet, and the method was even
easier. Ray is now long gone, but wherever he is; I know he would be
proud of me. Walleyes are some of the most sought-after fish in any
lake. If you have not yet seen or tired this method, I hope that the
instructions and photos that follow will help you to learn it. The best
knife for the job? a
Zwilling J.A. Henckels 7-in. Twin Pro S Fillet Knife.
from readers who have used these instructions:
"I just wanted to say thanks a lot for
the fillet pics on the website. They helped me FINALLY do a decent
job of filleting a walleye." (D.F.)
"I have just read and used your
technique for filleting a couple of walleyes I caught last night.
I chose your technique over some others I found due to the way you
removed the rib bones. I found it to be very easy to follow..."
Start as you might
normally start: fish belly towards you and fish head on your
left. (This method is for a right-handed person; rotate the
fish 180° to the right if you are left-handed.) Make the
first cut down and into the fish just behind the pectoral
Then, turn the
knife blade and, keeping pressure on the back of the blade,
cut along the backbone and through the rib cage, all the way
through to the tail and out. The whole side of the fish
comes off and the rib cage remains attached to the fillet.
Turn the fish over so that the back or
dorsal side is now facing you; repeat the previous step.
You now have two
fillets with the rib bones intact and waiting to be removed.
From this point, I had originally learned to remove the rib
cage by first placing the fillet skin-side down and cutting
down and behind the ribs. I had to follow the curve of the
rib cage with my knife. I did OK and eventually got very
good at removing the rib cage… But trying to follow the
curve of the ribs down and toward the skin was difficult and
inefficient. The angle was steep and it was easy to waste
In this “new”
method I place the rib-cage-side of the fillet down. It is
more effective and actually easier. More importantly,
placing the rib cage side down, you can actually help to
flatten the rib cage, making it easier to follow the curve
of the ribs.
No matter which fillet you are going to
de-bone, place the knife at the anterior or front end of the
fillet and just above the rib cage.
Use one hand to apply downward pressure to the fish – and
the rib cage – to flatten out the ribs.
Cut towards the
belly side of the fish and gradually work towards the
posterior or tail of the fish, allowing the knife to simply
follow the now-flattened rib cage.
Flattening the ribs makes the cut easier
and straighter and results in less waste of a good fillet;
only the rib bones themselves will be removed.
The end result will
be two very nice fillets that are truly boneless and ready
for your favorite recipes. All that is left for you to do is
remove the skin.
As always, it will take a little
practice to get good at this. But I think you will like the
results. No bones will be left. All you need to do is skin
the fillet and enjoy some fresh walleye for dinner!
And… if you don’t
already save the “cheeks” from your walleyes, I encourage
you to do so. These morsels are easily removed and
considered to be the “filet mignon” of the walleye. The
cheek “socket” is shallow and bowl-shaped and lies just
behind the eye of the fish. Just cut down and back up,
following the contour of the cheek socket. Then, slip
the knife between the skin and the meat and separate the
The cheeks can be
used to make several fish dishes as well as one of my
favorite hors d’oevres:
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