Cutting open fresh lake fish on cutting board outdoors. Horizontal colored image
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How to Fillet a Bass the Boneless Way

Knowing how to fillet fresh-caught bass is a crucial skill for any fishermen.

For the lucky fishermen, the exhilarating pursuit of bass ends with the rewarding catch. However, the true satisfaction lies in transforming that catch into a mouthwatering meal. Enter the art of bass filleting—a skill that can elevate your fishing experience to new culinary heights.

When it comes to filleting a bass, there are two main methods that anglers can choose from: the regular filleting technique and the boneless filleting technique. While both methods will give you delicious fillets, each offers a different type of filet for you to cook up. Personally, we much prefer filleting our bass to be boneless from the get-go to make for a more impressive fry up.

In this comprehensive guide, we will unveil the secrets to filleting bass like a pro. From the initial preparations to the precise techniques required, we'll provide step-by-step instructions that will leave you with perfectly filleted bass ready for the frying pan or grill. Get ready to unlock the gateway to culinary delight and take your angling adventures to a whole new level!

What You'll Need to Boneless Fillet

  • Sharp fillet knife: Choose a fillet knife that is very sharp and that has a sturdy handle with a good grip.
  • Filleting glove: It is highly recommended for newbies to wear filleting gloves. These will prevent cuts from that sharp knife if you happen to slip, which is easy to do when dealing with slippery fish.
  • Cutting board: A cutting board that has the clip to hold the fish in place is ideal when learning to fillet.
  • Water to rinse: The water to rinse the cleaned fillets can come from whatever water source you have available—a water hose, an inside tap, or a clean stream should do the trick.

How to Fillet Your Bass the Boneless Way 

The following instructions are adapted from Tactical Huntr. 

  1. Lay the bass on the cutting board and hold the head down with your off hand.
  2. Make a cut from above the top of the gill plate, down and back on a straight line that goes behind the pectoral fin. Do not cut through the backbone, but rather cut down it.
  3. Staying on the same side of the backbone, insert the knife an inch into the top of the fish, perpendicular to the line you just cut. Slice back toward the rear of the fish and down to the top of the rib cage—but not through it.
  4. Once you've reached the end of the rib cage, push the knife all the way through the fish and continue cutting all the way through the tail.
  5. With your off hand, lift the filet away from the backbone using the blade to carve the filet away from the fish.

If you want to eat with the skin attached, you will need to scrape off the scales by taking a spoon or a butter knife and just scraping the scales off of the fish.

To remove the skin:

  1. Lay the filet skin down on the cutting board and hold the tail with your off hand.
  2. Slide the knife in between the meat and the skin.
  3. Slowly slide the knife to the front of the filet separating the flesh from the skin.

Bass can be a tasty meal, but that begins with properly filleting it. Follow these instructions and you will be well on your way. 

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