July 01, 2015
Crappie are fun to catch and delicious to eat. Before the eating begins, however, anglers must know how to properly prepare their catch for the table. One commonly used method is filleting.
Nowadays it seems most crappie anglers prefer to fillet their catch to produce boneless, skinless pieces of meat ready to cook.
Here's how to do it, quick as a snap, with an electric or fixed-blade fillet knife.
Tools of the trade
Tools you need include a sharp knife (fillet knife, electric fillet knife and/or plain blade)
A cutting board, fillet board or other hard, flat surface (use plastic or glass to reduce bacteria)
A spoon or scaling tool, if you're pan-dressing the fish
a container in which to place the prepared fish
Some newspaper, a trash bag or a bucket for disposal of waste parts. Also recommended is household bleach for clean-up.
Lay the fish on a cutting board, fillet board or other flat, hard surface. Grasping the fish's mouth, take the fillet knife and position it just behind the side (pectoral) fin.
Slice downward to the backbone, keeping the rear of the knife blade up. Be careful not to cut into the fish's backbone.
Turn the knife blade toward the tail and continue cutting, staying on top of the back and belly fins. You'll feel resistance as you cut through the rib cage, but be careful not to cut into the backbone. It's better to cut too shallow than too deep.
Continue your cut toward the tail, until you have almost, but not quite, cut the scaly fillet off
With the fillet barely attached to the tail, flip it away from the fish. Position your knife on the narrow portion of the fillet, and while holding the fish, slice between the meat and the skin to remove the fillet. To obtain the maximum meat, cut very close to the skin.
When the fillet is removed, place it, with rib cage still attached, on a sheet of wax paper. Then flip the fish over and fillet the other side.
To finish, take each fillet, and with the tip of your fillet knife, carefully cut out the rib cage.
To retrieve the most meat, angle your knife and slice close to the ribs.
After you rinse the fillets, they're ready to cook or store.