How You Can Filet A Northern Pikeminnow

Written by in Fishing
Image Credits: Pixabay.com

When I was reading about eating a Northern Pikeminnow recently, I wondered if there were any solutions to all of the complaints about the bones throughout the flesh. So, I did some research to come up with a quick guide on how to fillet a Northern Pikeminnow.

How can you fillet a Northern Pikeminnow? The Northern Pikeminnow is a tricky fish to fillet, due to the amount of tiny bones and sturdy structure of the rib bones. The best way to fillet these fish is to cut the meat away from the rib bones, leaving the entire carcass behind.

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For a completely boneless fillet, on the other hand, you will need to strategically cut the top and sides of the fish into thick steaks, avoiding the bone structures in the center of the body.

Although Northern Pikeminnow are notorious for their tricky bone structures, there are a few ways to get around the headache of preparing them for cooking. 

If you are eager to try a pikeminnow, despite all of the negative feedback they get, this guide will help you find out the best way for you to do so.

How to Fillet a Northern Pikeminnow

While it is true that the Northern Pikeminnow can be prepared and cooked just like almost any other type of fish, there are a few differences when it comes to filleting them.

Unlike the similar trout or bass, the rib bones on a pikeminnow are very strong and sturdy, and are very hard to get around. In fact, if you try to fillet a pikeminnow in a traditional way, you will most likely dull or completely destroy your knife.

How To Fillet a Northern Pikeminnow:

  1. Find a sharp knife
  2. Prepare the fish by skinning and cleaning
  3. Cut the flesh away from the rib bones
  4. Remove all of the meat, leaving a carcass behind

In order to properly fillet a Northern Pikeminnow, you will need a very sharp knife to make the process as easy as possible.

After you have prepared the fish for filleting by skinning and cleaning it accordingly, you will need to forget everything you know about cutting other fish into fillets.

Instead of cutting across the dense rib bones, you will need to cut the flesh away from these areas. In doing this, you will be left with perfect fillets of fish, with a complete carcass of rib bones left behind on your cutting board.

How to Create Boneless Northern Pikeminnow Fillets

The Northern Pikeminnow is a very tricky fish to prepare, because there are so many minuscule pin-sized bones all throughout the body.

These bones are extremely thin and sharp, and almost translucent in color, which makes them hard to locate against the white meat of the fish. 

On top of that, there are hundreds of them, which might make it seem impossible to remove all of them for a smooth, boneless fillet.

This next method of filleting a Northern Pikeminnow will not require skinning, gutting, and cleaning the fish prior to beginning. 

In fact, it is much easier to begin with a whole pikeminnow. This section will explain in detail why this is, or you can skim through the steps below if you don’t have time to read.

How To Create Boneless Northern Pikeminnow Fillets:

  1. Sit the fish on its belly
  2. Cut behind the head (about 1/2 inch down)
  3. Cut across the top horizontally toward tail to create first fillet
  4. Cut the right side of fish vertically downward (next to pin bone formations in center)
  5. Remove the second boneless fillet
  6. Repeat on the left side
  7. Remove the third boneless fillet
  8. Cut the bottom end of fish on right side toward tail horizontally
  9. Slice the meat off of the skin to create a boneless filet
  10. Repeat on the other side
  11. Remove your fifth boneless fillet

Contrary to the filleting method outlined in the previous section that left the pin bones throughout the meat of the fish, this technique will give you 5 clean fillets with no worries about biting into sharp bones.

To begin, you will need to sit the fish on its belly on the filleting station you have created, whether it is on a cutting board in your kitchen, or laid out over newspapers at your campsite.

This position is ideal for creating boneless fillets, because the pin bones begin about a half inch down into the center of the fish, which you will notice after you make the first cut.

The first incision will be a vertical cut directly behind the head of the fish, followed by a smooth horizontal slide across the top of the fish toward the tail. This slice will stop a few inches from the back end of the fish, and will produce your first boneless fillet.

Once this area of the fish has been removed you will notice all of the tiny pin bones that are directly underneath it inside of the fish’s body.

Next, you will avoid this center area where the pin bones begin by cutting the right side of the fish vertically downward. 

After this slice has been completed correctly, you will get your second boneless fillet.

Keeping the fish in the same position on its belly, you will repeat this cut on the left side to extract the third fillet. Now, you will really see all of the pin bones that are inside of the fish’ body, but none of them should be in your fillets.

The last two slices will come from the back end of the fish, near the tail. 

The space of a few inches that you left while cutting the first three will create these slightly smaller fillets.

To do this, you will make clean cuts toward the tail horizontally, on both the right and left sides of the fish just like you did in the previous steps.

For these fillets, you can remove the skin from the fillet before placing it to the side, by gliding your knife between the flesh and the skin.

Finally, remove your fourth and fifth boneless fillet from the fish and place them to the side with the other three larger fillets.

Whether you remove the skin from all of your fillets or leave them on for a crispy texture on one side, you definitely will not have to worry about picking out tiny bones during your meal. 

Once you have created your five flawless fillets, the only thing that will be left to do is enjoy them!

Related Questions

What is the best way to eat Northern Pikeminnow?

Northern Pikeminnow can be cooked, prepared, and eaten just like any other type of fish. With that being said, they can be baked, grilled, smoked, fried, and even pickled or canned.

How can I catch pikeminnow fish in exchange for monetary compensation?

In order to successfully catch a pikeminnow in exchange for a cash voucher, your fish will need to meet a certain list of qualifications. Although these rules will vary between locations, the fish will generally need to be in fresh condition from being caught in the same day, and meet a minimum length requirement (usually about 9 inches).

How much can you make from fishing for Northern Pikeminnow?

In the same year, one fisherman made almost $120,000 from just catching Northern Pikeminnow alone in the year 2016. Just one year later, another fisherman caught over $80,000 worth of Pikeminnow in a period of 5 months. With no limit of how many qualifying Pikeminnow can be caught in one day, the earning possibilities are endless.

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