How to Clean Northern Pike Fillet

How to Clean Northern Pike Fillet
Sometimes called jackfish in Canada, northern pike are carnivorous fish with white, mildly flavored flesh. Pike have a wide distribution and are found in fresh and brackish waters in North America, Russia and Europe. The biggest challenge when cleaning and filleting Northern pike is removing the large y-bones. The larger the pike, the easier these bones will be to remove without damaging the fillet.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Knife
  • Knife sharpening gear
  • Northern pike
Step 1
Find an extremely sharp knife or sharpen a dull one. Northern pike has a very slippery texture, and can be difficult or potentially dangerous to fillet without a sharp blade.
Step 2
Make a cut right behind the gill to the backbone. Do not slice through backbone.
Step 3
Turn your knife parallel to the backbone and slide it along the spine until you reach the tail. Leave the fillet attached at the tail for the moment.
Step 4
Slide the knife under the lower ribs of the northern pike. Cut to the bottom of the fillet to remove the ribs, being careful to not cut away meat.
Step 5
Look for a thin line with little dots running along the thickest part of the fillet lengthwise. These dots are the y bones.
Step 6
Stick a knife beneath the y bones near the head of the fillet. Angle it about 45 degrees toward the top of the fish. Cut to the skin, but not through it. Your knife should be immediately behind the bones and follow them as closely as possible.
Step 7
Cut a slit behind the bones, all the way along the fish.
Step 8
Feel along the y bones until you find a line of cartilage connecting them. Pull gently but firmly on this line to yank the y bones free. You may have to cut some of the bones out with your knife.
Step 9
Hold the tail as a handle and skin the fillet. Be careful to remove as little meat as possible. You will now have a fillet consisting of a large slice of meat and a smaller portion strip that was in front of the y bones.
Step 10
Repeat the above steps on the other half of the Northern pike. You now have two fish fillets

Article Written By Isaiah David

Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has over five years experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.

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