How to Fillet a Largemouth Bass

How to Fillet a Largemouth Bass
One of the greatest prizes for any freshwater fisherman to catch is a largemouth bass. For some anglers it may take years to finally land the fish, if they are even lucky enough to do so. Nothing tastes better than a fresh caught bass, cooked to perfection. Of course, you can clean and cook it with the skin on. However, by filleting the fish, you won't have to worry about bones. Be aware that the first time filleting a fish can be quite a tricky endeavor.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fillet knife
  • Knife sharpener
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Cutting board
 
Step 1
Sharpen your knife. Before you even begin filleting the fish make sure you're working with a sharp knife. Otherwise you'll only mangle up the meat and end up with less fish.
Step 2
Set up the area where you'll be filleting the bass. You'll need a flat table surface and a cutting board to fillet the fish on. If you don't have a cutting board you might spread some newspapers over the table so you don't cut it or get fish slime all over it. You'll also want to have a bowl of fresh water to put your fillets into.
Step 3
Wash the fish off in water before you start the filleting process. Getting some of the excess slime off the fish will make it easier to handle. Once your fish is washed off, lay it on the cutting board.
Step 4
Cut across the fish just behind the gills, from one side to the other. Do not cut deeper than the center bones. 
Step 5
Make a one inch slit in the center back, connecting to where you made your cut behind the gills. Hold the fish head with your free hand and start carefully cutting towards the tail from where you made the cut behind the gills. You should be able to feel the major bone that runs down the center of the fish with your knife. Use this as a guide while cutting, as you don't want to cut through the bone, but want to get as close to it as possible. Try not to cut into the stomach while making your cut. 
Step 6
Stop cutting when your knife reaches the tail section of the fish. Filleting is easier if the side of meat is still attached to the fish when you attempt to take the skin off. Stop once you reach approximately 1/2-inch to the tail fin. This should leave enough meat attached so the fillet won't pull off the fish.
Step 7
Flip the freshly cut side of the fish over to the opposite side of the fish. You should be looking at the fish in the same position as it was before. Its bones will be showing and the cut side is now laying over the tail, with the meat facing you. The uncut side of the fish is still laying flat upon the cutting board.
Step 8
Resharpen the knife if it has become dull while completing the steps above.
Step 9
Hold the tail section with your free hand to hold the fish in place and position your knife where the meat begins by the tail. Gently slide your knife between the meat and the skin, working your way towards the end. Be careful not to cut too deep. The skin should peel away from the meat as you slide your knife through the fish.
Step 10
Repeat these steps for the other side of the fish. Place the freshly cut fillets in a bowl of clean water until you're ready to cook them.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Working with a sharp knife will make filleting much easier, especially since bass have scales and can dull a knife quickly.

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