How to Fillet a Pike – a Guide to Cleaning and Preparing Pike

How to fillet a pike is covered here in this article, along with guides to cleaning and preparing pike ready for cooking. You will discover many step-by-step guides that will help you handle the pike you catch in readiness for eating.

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How Do You Fillet a Northern Pike?

The secret to filleting a northern pike is using a really sharp fillet knife. Pike has a lot of bones, so a sharp knife would always come in handy.

Steps to fillet a pike:

Step 1: Lay the pike on their back. Cut their anal fins, leaving an incision in their belly.

Step 2: Cut a line starting near the mouth of the fish towards the belly and stopping at the tail.

Step 3: Make a cut from the jaw of the pike, stopping at the backbone. Then, angle your knife to continue slicing all the way down to the tail to make your first fillet cut.

Step 4: Repeat the first step on the other side to get your second fillet.

Step 5: Remove the rib cage by running your knife along with the rib bones and gently cut through it.

Step 6: Run and angle your knife down gently along the bone line. Then slice all the way at the bottom of the y-bone line to remove it completely.

Step 7: Cut your fillet into pieces and sizes of your choice.

Is Pike a Good Fish to Eat?

Contrary to popular belief that pike is inedible, they are actually an excellent fish to eat. Like any other fish, you have to handle, clean, and cook it properly so you can enjoy and savor it. In choosing the pike that you would eat, you have to consider the location or waters of where it was caught. Pike caught from clean waters with cold temperatures tends to be more flavorful and has a firmer meat texture. Smaller pike also has softer meat.

How Do You Fillet a Pike and Get Five Boneless Fillets?

Some people do not have the patience to deal with pike because of their bones. When you learn how to cut and debone a pike, you will realize that many people are missing out on its taste.

Here are the steps you can follow to fillet a pike and get five boneless fillets:

Step 1: Put your pike in the freezer for at least 30 mins to get the slime off and to make the meat firmer when cutting. Prepare your fillet knife and make sure it is sharp and flexible.

Step 2: Lay the pike on their belly. Cut straight near the head and stop right at the backbone.

Step 3: Slide your fillet knife blade down along the backbone towards the tail and stop right at the dorsal fin. 

Step 4: Turn your blade and place it between the skin and the flesh. Slice up your first boneless fillet cut.

Step 5: Using your fingers, feel the rows of bones parallel to the backbone. Then gently cut down about half an inch on the Y-Bones.

Step 6: Lightly pull back the fillet and release it from the bones. Make a perpendicular cut just right in front of the fish vent. Remove the belly fat to get your second boneless fillet cut.

Step 7: Repeat the previous steps to cut the third fillet on the other side.

Step 8: For your fourth and fifth boneless fillet cuts, cut the meat on every side near the tail.

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How Do You Clean Pike Fish?

Some people have not yet enjoyed a pike meal because they do not have the patience to clean and debone the fish. It’s known for having a chock full of bones but getting those nasty bones out is definitely rewarding.

Here are the steps you can follow in cleaning your pike fish:

Step 1: Place your pike on its belly and cut through the fillet knife at the back of its head down to the backbone.

Step 2: Slice all the way through the tail at a slightly bent angle.

Step 3: Once you have your first fillet cut, place the blade of your knife in the middle of the skin and flesh and slice carefully to remove the skin.

Step 4: Repeat the first three steps to do the other side.

Step 5: Remove the belly bones from your fillet cuts. Be careful not to remove too much flesh.

After cleaning the pike, you can then proceed to fillet the pike and remove the bones. You can cook the pike with the bones, but it is best served boneless to enjoy your dish fully.

How Do You Fillet a Northern Pike with an Electric Knife?

Using an electric knife may save you more time and give you precise, fast, and clean cuts when filleting a northern pike. One of the most recommended electric knives is the Rapala electric filleting knife.

Here are the steps you need to follow to fillet a northern pike with an electric knife:

Step 1: Place your northern pike on the cutting board. Start cutting behind the pectoral fin and stop when you can feel the knife against the backbone.

Step 2: Turn the knife around with the blade facing the tail. Then, start cutting through the rib bones down towards the tail.

Step 3: After getting your first fillet cut, cut through the rib bones along the spine and take them out. Then, remove the bones and cut the pectoral fin. You now have two (2) big fillet cuts.

Step 4: You have the option to remove the belly if you are not fond of its flavor. Then start cutting through your rib bones, starting from the top working your way down.

Step 5: With your fingers, feel they-bone and start cutting through it carefully to save more flesh from the bones.

Step 6: Place the blade of your knife in between the flesh and skin and slice it all the way down to remove the skin.

How Do You Cut the Y Bones Out of Pike?

A lot of people have missed out on tasting and enjoying a good pike because of its nasty bones. The key, however, to taking out the bones of the pike is practice and a good sharp knife.

To cut those dreaded y-bones out of a pike, there are steps you can take.

Here are the steps you should follow:

Step 1: Make a cut starting behind the head towards the belly and stopping just right at the ventral fins.

Step 2: Hold the pike by the head. Push your knife down towards the backbone and cut along the backbone to the tail. Then, remove the fillet.

Step 3: Repeat the second step on the other side and remove the second fillet cut.

Step 4: Remove the rib cage’s bones by sliding your knife under the white cavity lining and making a cut towards the belly.

Step 5: Locate the part of the fillet where there is a dotted line as this indicates the presence of they-bones. Cut along this dotted line and out towards the backside of the pike.

Step 6: Lightly pull back flesh and cut again under the y-bone following the previous cut line.

Step 7: Gently remove the y-bone from the pike.

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How Do You Clean a Pike?

Cleaning and deboning a pike may take a lot of time, primarily if you are not used to preparing pike. Earlier sections in this article have basically covered this for you. However, incase you need them now, here they are for you.

Here are the steps you can follow in cleaning your pike fish:

Step 1: Place your pike on its belly and cut through the fillet knife at the back of its head down to the backbone.

Step 2: Slice all the way through the tail at a slightly bent angle.

Step 3: Once you have your first fillet cut, place the blade of your knife in the middle of the skin and flesh and slice carefully to remove the skin.

Step 4: Repeat the first three steps to do the other side.

Step 5: Remove the belly bones from your fillet cuts. Be careful not to remove too much flesh.

After cleaning the pike, you can then proceed to fillet the pike and remove the bones. You can cook the pike with the bones, but it is best served boneless to enjoy your dish fully.

How Do You Gut a Pike?

Once you catch your fish, its flesh starts degrading slowly. Gutting it will help your catch from spoiling too quickly and ensure its freshness. Pike may be more difficult to gut because of its relatively large size.

Here are the steps in gutting your pike:

Step 1: Using a sharp knife (others use sharp kitchen shears) cut through the belly from the tail all the way through the jaw.

Step 2: Cut open the pike’s belly to reveal the guts.

Step 3: Carefully remove all the organs of the pike. When you have a huge pike, there are times when there are still decaying fish inside its stomach when you gut it.

Step 4: Rinse the pike in running water.

After gutting the pike, you have the option to proceed to clean and filleting it.

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How Do You Bleed Out a Northern Pike?

Bleeding a fish is necessary to get all the blood out and clean the fish. It actually produces the more flavorful and firmer fish. To bleed out your pike, drive your sharp knife under the jaw near the gills of the fish and make a cut that is about an inch. This way, you are hitting the major artery connecting to the gills. You can also use sharp scissors or pliers. Push your scissors or pliers down near the gills and cut the major arteries.

What Size Pike Can You Keep?

States have different regulations on the daily catch and possession limitations of Northern Pike. 

In Minnesota, Pike can be caught all year round. However, there is a daily limit of three (3) per day, with only one (1) fish being 40 inches. 

South Dakota allows a daily catch of six (6) but only three (3) is allowed in Nebraska-SouthDakota borders, while the possession limit is 12. 

In Michigan, the daily catch limit would depend on the rules and regulations of the waters. There are waters where only possession of two (2) 24-34 inches of pike are allowed daily. There are also waters that allow a daily limit of five (5), but only one should have a size greater than 24 inches.

Can You Fish for Pike All Year?

Yes, you can fish for pike all year round. Every season, the pike has different behaviors, so you have to know the right gear, time of day, best location, and other factors to consider when fishing for pike. The best season to go fishing for pike is during the winter season. Pike loves the cold water. However, the water becomes frozen, and finding the perfect location to catch pike may be difficult. You have to be precise in drilling a hole in the ice because pike tends to go deeper in the water.

On the other hand, it would be a challenge and a struggle to catch a pike during summer. As the water temperature rises, pike will stay in areas that the sun couldn’t reach. If you are determined to catch a pike in the summer, you can fish during the sunrise or sunset because the water temperature tends to be cooler.

What Is Considered a Big Northern Pike?

All pike are relatively large and heavy due to their predatory and cannibalistic nature. Northern pike could grow to an average length of 40-55 cm or 16 to 22 in and weigh an average of 3-7 lbs. 

The largest pike ever recorded was 59in long and weighed 63lbs. Female pike also tends to grow larger than the mile pike. In fact, most pike that weighs more than 18lbs is female.

Is Pike Fish Flesh Healthy?

Yes, Pike flesh is healthy and good for the body. Northern pike is protein-rich fish. Protein is essential for the growth and development of our bones, muscles, and skin. It also helps build and repair our body tissue. Besides protein, northern pike is a good source of vitamins and minerals like niacin, selenium, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12. All of these have important functions that keep us healthy.

What Does Pike Taste Like?

When handled, cleaned, and cooked correctly, pike is indeed delicious. It has a distinct rich flavor and white tender meat. Pike is surprisingly understated in terms of its taste. It is often overlooked and disregarded because of how they look, they have a lot of bones that could be a nuisance to eat, and the myth that they are inedible. Removing the bones out of the pike may be annoying, but it’s definitely worth it. It is preferred to be filleted before deep-frying, but it is also quite famous in creamy mousse-based recipes.

How Do You Kill a Pike?

The best way to humanely kill a pike is to stun them to produce immediate unconsciousness. You can stun them by percussive stunning or spiking. Percussive stunning is aiming a blunt instrument forcefully into the head of the pike, while spiking is driving a sharp knife or spike to penetrate the brain. 

You can also kill a pike by keeping them in a container full of ice, giving them salt or ammonia baths, getting them out of the water, or letting them bleed without stunning them first. These methods, however, are not recommended by most fishermen.

How Long Do Pike Live For?

Northern pike could live an average of 7 to 10 years in captivity, but they could live even up to 15 years. Although it is difficult to tell the age of a pike accurately, it is possible that pike could live up to 25 years. The older pike are relatively larger and heavier.

How Do You Kill a Pike Humanely?

There are two (2) ways to kill a pike humanely. The first one is through percussive stunning. It involves aiming a blunt instrument accurately and forcefully to the head. The blow should be right above the eyes to render the pike unconscious immediately. You can aim another forceful blow should the pike still move after the first one. 

The second way to kill a pike humanely is through spiking. To do this, drive a sharp knife, ice pick, or a spike into the head of the fish, aiming for its brain. It should be done quickly and firmly so that the pike would be unconscious in no time.

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How Do You Fillet a Pike Article Conclusion

I hope this article on how to fillet a pike has been a great help to you. Having had a thorough read, you should be prepared to enjoy the flavor of any pike that is large enough for you to eat.

Tight lines!

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