Trout, depending on the kind you catch, come in a variety of sizes. Fortunately, they’re not weirdly shaped, like a flounder. Trout are best when they are cleaned fresh, as in right there on the lake or stream where you caught them.
Not everybody has the setup to clean trout right then and there. If you can though, you should do it right there on the boat and toss the filets in a cooler when you’re done. At the very least, you should disembowel them first.
Trout are known for decaying rather quickly in warmer weather, and it decaying process begins in the gut. The quicker you get that out, the fresher your catch will be when you eventually finish cleaning it.
How to Clean Trout
You’ll need a good filet table and a filet knife. If you have them right there on your boat or on the shoreline with you, there’s no time like the present. The first thing you want to do is disembowel it. If you don’t plan on fileting your trout right there, you’ll at least be able to remove the source of rapid decay.
Rinse the trout off really well and toss it on the table. Insert the point of the filet knife in the trout’s anus (ouch) and make a shallow cut (just through the skin) all the way up the trout’s belly, below the gills.
Don’t cut all the way to the V-shaped point at the very front of the fish, below its mouth. That’s too far. Just make your cut to the V and you’re good. Now, you can go ahead and cut that V-shape back.
To do this, insert your finger in the trout’s mouth and press down on the center of that V, which will force it to jut out on the bottom. Use your knife to cut along the sides of the V, where it’s thin.
You have effectively turned the V into a pull tab. Reach your finger through the mouth again and grip the jaw. Use your other hand to pull that tab down, basically unzipping the trout. Everything should come out when you pull it, including all of the entrails and the gills.
Run your thumb along the backbone, from head to tail, to scrape away any other internal organs. Now, cut off the head, tail, and fins. Now all you have to do is lay the fish down, with its spine towards you.
Lay your knife so the cutting edge is pointing down to the trout’s tail and cut in that direction, separating the filet from the rest of the body. Do the same on the other side.
Do you Need to Descale a Trout
You don’t need to descale your trout but some people don’t want to eat the skin with their filets. Removing the skin is a fairly simple process, similar to how you remove the filet from the trout’s body.
Lay your filet flat on the table again, with the skin facing down and the meat facing you. You’re going to cut the skin off by cutting along the length of the filet. This means you need to get the knife as flat to the table as possible.
The cutting motion is almost exactly the same as it was when you cut the filet off, except you have to be a little more careful here. Angle your knife wrong and you’ll end up with a piece of skin on the table with a sizeable amount of meat on it.
You don’t have to remove the skin, however. Trout skin is usually pretty good, especially if it’s cooked to the point where it’s extra crispy, without overcooking the meat behind it.
Should you gut a trout
You should gut trout as you catch them. Sure, it’s a pain to do that out on the water or the shoreline but it’s very beneficial and the meat will taste so much better after having done it.
This is especially important if the weather is semi-warm or warm. A trout’s gut will start desiccating the meat fairly quickly. It helps if you can string them up and allow them to keep swimming until you’re done. Otherwise, you should gut them as quickly as you can.
Trout is one of the simplest fish to clean and filet. It’s a good thing too since you want to disembowel them as soon as possible. If it’s your first time, trout are the perfect fish to start with, thanks to the simplicity of it.
You can also afford to make a mistake or two while skinning them since the skin on trout is harmless for cooking purposes and you might find that it’s quite tasty as well. Trout are delicious fish, regardless of what kind you’re catching.
While most of them are related in one form or another, you’ll find them in freshwater, saltwater, and brackish water environments. No matter where you catch them, be sure to gut them quickly or keep them alive until you can get to them.
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