How to Prepare Paddlefish (Spoonbill)

How to Prepare Paddlefish (Spoonbill)
How to Prepare Paddlefish (Spoonbill)

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Paddlefish are a cousin to sturgeon and also known as spoonbill, spoonbill cat and shovelnose cat. Paddlefish seldom bite a baited hook, but on occasion are "snagged" accidentally by anglers using treble hooks.

Spoonbill is a great tasting fish - as long as you clean it right. A fish under 65 pounds is the best tasting; smaller even better.

If you only keep the ones under 10 pounds, you usually do not have to trim the red meat. At 15 pounds, the red meat begins to get oily and needs to be trimmed (in the directions below). The best ones yield three 4" fillets from each side.

As soon as you land the fish you would do the following:

Tip 1: Kill the fish as soon as you have it in the boat (hit it on the head), tie a line through its gill plate, cut both sides of the gills off and put the fish back in the water. Let it bleed out. This will get rid of the sour blood taste.

Tip 2: Keep the fish cold. This is very important. If you have ice, put it down into the belly of the fish - you want to cool down the meat as soon as possible.

Tip 3: There are no bones in paddlefish, so filleting them is very simple. The third most important step to guarantee great taste is removing the long fibrous "cord" (really looks like a spinal cord). It's the first thing you remove from the fish so the fillets are not ruined.

You can cut around the tailbone at the tail, then saw the tailbone/backbone off the ribs and pull the tailbone right out. Cut off all the red meat and gray fatty tissue. One speck of red meat will ruin the flavor. Then cut into steaks and place in salt water for 30 minutes to cool.

You may soak them in buttermilk for a few hours to remove any smell or taste that is left over. Guarantees great results.


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