A lot of anglers take part in their sport for the pure pleasure of the catch. However, if you do like to eat fish and you're an angler, catching and eating your own pike can make an extremely satisfying meal if it's cooked correctly. Before you cook the fish, however, you'll need to clean and debone it. (I should say at this point that it's a good idea to check your local angling laws and that you're actually allowed to catch and kill a pike at various times of the year before you do so!)
Cleaning the fish is generally the worst part catching a fish. However, it can be made simple, and with practice you should be able to make it a quick activity. For the first few tries, take it slow – it's all too easy to do this wrong and end up with the fish in pieces. It will still beible, but the presentation when you serve it will be far from professional.
Firstly, and very importantly, make sure you have a sharp filleting knife. If your blade is not sharp, you will end up pulling the fish apart as mentioned above.
The process is as follows:
- Place the fish on the filleting surface on its side ready to cut.
- Take the knife and cut gently all the way from the front of the side fin to the neck. Then, turning the knife, slice from the neck to the tail, going along the spine. Make sure you leave the skin on the pike at this point – it helps to keep the fillet in tact as you remove the bones.
- Slide the knife underneath the bones and gently slice under the rocks to remove them.
- This is the most tricky part: Removing a group of bones called Y-bones. This is not strictly necessary, as you can eat around these bones, but if you're able to do this, I do recommend it. Not only is it easier to eat with these bones removed, but it will make a much more professionally cooked meal (especially if you have guests for dinner). The Y-bones run down the thickest part of the fillet. These bones form a slightly visible ridge, so press the knife just above the ridge and push down until you feel the bone. Then cut down along the edge of each Y-bone. After this, simply cut along the center of the pike until you hit the Y-bones. It should then just be a matter of working the bones loose with the knife. Again, this is the trickiest part and care should be taken to leave the fillet intact.
- After you've removed the bones, you should be able to remove the skin with the knife.
At this point, simply cook though you'd like.