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Bringing home your catch

Go Fishing!

Items you’ll need include a mallet, sharp fillet knife, hook remover, cutting board, small spoon, at least two buckets (for rinsing and discarding waste), cooler and ice.

Killing and bleeding trout
A freshly caught fish should be killed immediately and cleaned as soon as possible. Hold the fish in one hand and strike it on the head behind the eyes with a mallet. Remove the hook by grasping the shank with a pair of long-nosed pliers and backing it out. You can also use a special tool designed to remove hooks, available at sporting-goods stores.

Next, bleed the fish to prevent blood from spoiling the flesh. To do this, lift the gill plate, insert a knife over the gill cluster and cut the gills. Place the fish in a bucket of cold water to drain blood from the fish.

You then can clean the fish immediately or place it in a cooler to clean later. Either way, be sure there’s enough ice to surround the fish. Leave the cooler’s drain plug open to allow water to run out. Water spoils the flavor of fish.  

When cleaning your fish:

  1. Angle the knife to cut away from yourself
  2. Take your time
  3. Remember the fish's mouth, gills, and bones can be sharp.

Cleaning steps

  1. Hold the fish in the palm of your hand or place on a cutting board, belly up and head away from you. Locate the anus - a small, round vent on the lower belly of the fish. Insert the fillet knife a fraction of an inch directly above the hole and gently cut upward along the belly to the throat. Don't cut into the internal organs.
  2. Turn the fish on its belly and make an incision across the top of the head behind the gills, but only cut to the backbone.
  3. Place your fingers in the incision and pull the head forward. This movement will remove the head and guts. Discard in a waste container.
  4. Scrape out the kidney-the long vein of blood that runs along the back bone- with your finger or a spoon.
  5. Rinse in cold water.
  6. Cut off the tail and discard if desired.
  7. Rinse the fish in cold water and place in cooler with ice.

Cook your fish that day or refrigerate it for a day or two. Because fish flesh deteriorates when it sits in its own juices, place the fish on a rack in a shallow pan filled with crushed ice. Cover with cling wrap or foil and set in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Trout will store well this way for up to two days. Trout can be fried, grilled, broiled, poached, baked or steamed.

Cooking fish
Cooking time is fairly short when cooking whole fish or fillets to keep the flavors simple. Fish are cooked when the flesh flakes off easily with a fork.

In general, the cooking time for fish is 10 minutes for every inch of thickness—whether you bake, poach, broil, or grill. To test for doneness, slip the point of a sharp knife into the thickest part of the fish and pull aside. If flakes begin to separate, the fish is probably done. Remove fish from heat and let it stand 3 to 4 minutes to finish cooking.

  • Baking
    Rinse fish and pat dry with a paper towel. Whole fish may be stuffed with rice and vegetables. Place whole, boned fish in a baking pan. Brush with butter and oil and season with salt and pepper, or cover with a piquant sauce. Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) until a knife slice in the thickest part reveals the flesh to be opaque but still moist.
  • Grilling
    Place whole small fish or fillets on perforated aluminum foil over a greased grill, 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15cm) above prepared coals or fire. Baste with butter, oil, or marinade, and close hood of grill. Cook until opaque and moist on the inside, 6 to 8 minutes for fish less than 1 inch (2.5cm) thick; 10 to 15 minutes for fish larger than 1-inch (2.5cm) thick.
  • Broiling
    Rinse whole fish, fillets, or boned and butterflied trout, and pat dry with a paper towel. Place fish on a rack above a baking dish. Preheat broiler and adjust oven rack so fish is 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10cm) from the element. Brush with butter or oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil, turning once, until fish is opaque but still moist in the center, 3 to 10 minutes, depending on size of the fish.
  • Frying
    Rinse trout, and pat dry with a paper towel. Dredge in flour and seasonings if desired. Shake off any excess flour. Heat frying pan until hot, then add butter or oil. Put in fillets and cook, turning once, until fish is opaque but still moist in the center, 2 to 10 minutes, depending upon size of the fish.
  • Poaching
    Bring poaching liquid, consisting of water, broth, and herbs and spices, to a simmer. Slip fish in, then cover pan and keep liquid at a simmer for about 8 minutes per inch (about 2.5cm) of thickness.
  • Steaming
    Place fish on a greased perforated rack over 1 to 2 inches (about 2.5 to 5cm) of rapidly boiling water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and keep water at a constant boil through cooking time, 8 to 10 minutes per inch (about 2.5cm) thickness of fish.