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WV Wildlife: Fish Fillet

Sam Duffield gives a fish filleting demonstration at National Hunting and Fishing Days at Stonewall Resort in Lewis County. (WCHS/WVAH)

LEWIS COUNTY, WV (WCHS/WVAH) — Sam Duffield makes it look easy.

He's been filleting fish for a while now.

This experience is now used to teach those wanting to keep and fry up their catches.

This past September, at Hunting and Fishing Days at Stonewall Resort in Lewis County, his skill was on display.

"Some of the fish need taken and a lot of people like to eat fish, and to eat that fish--you need to learn how to clean them. And learn how to clean them properly, so you get the most out of it", said Duffield.

Duffield says there are two basic--but very important--things you need before you start your filleting.

"So, try to get you a decent place to clean fish. I personally prefer a piece of wood. That's why I get a nice commercial fish cleaning table, and I put a piece of plywood on it. Don't stress over your knife--make sure that you like it. It doesn’t matter if it's a 3-dollar knife, or a 100-dollar knife, make sure it fits your hand. You're comfortable with it and you like it, that's what makes a difference", said Duffield.

And make sure to keep your knife sharp--a dull one can increase your risk of cutting yourself.

As for the fish? It's best to keep them on ice before you clean them, which makes them firm.

"And what I’m going to do is I’m going to make a cut--behind the head, underneath the pectoral fin and behind the gill plate. I'm going to make one cut up through here. You don't want to cut all the way through--just nice and halfway. If you cut all the way through, there went your handle. You need that head for a handle, ok. I'm going to get down here---push it down and twist it sideways. Down to the rib cage, up over the top, cut through those lateral line bones", said Duffield.

Duffield says that different species of fish simply have different bone structures--but smaller bass, bluegill and crappie are a good place to start.

"Nothing beats practice. You can watch, you can read, you can YouTube all you want, but nothing beats getting your hands on. When you do clean that fish, whether you do a great job--or you don't do a great job--look at its anatomy, look at its structure and see what you're going to deal with when you pick up the next fish", said Duffield.

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