A Step-by-Step Guide: How to Perfectly Fillet a Northern Pike Fish

How to Fillet a Northern Pike Fish: A Step-by-Step Guide

Filleting a northern pike fish can be intimidating for beginners, but with the right technique and guidance, it becomes an enjoyable process. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through each step of filleting a northern pike fish like a pro.

Preparing Your Tools and Workstation

Gathering Essential Tools

Before starting the filleting process, gather the necessary tools:

  • A sharp fillet knife (preferably with a flexible blade)
  • Cutting board or table with ample workspace
  • Paper towels or clean cloth for wiping hands and surfaces
  • A sturdy pair of kitchen gloves for grip and safety
  • A trash bin nearby to dispose of waste scraps

Selecting a Fresh Northern Pike Fish

Pick out a fresh northern pike fish from your local market or catch one yourself. Look for these signs of freshness:

  • Bright, clear eyes without cloudiness or discoloration.
  • Firm flesh that springs back when touched.
  • Vibrant skin free from slime or strong odors.
  • In case of whole fish purchase, check gills which should be red in color indicating freshness.

Fillet Preparation & Technique

Safety First: Proper Handling Techniques

Ensure your workstation is clean and dry to prevent accidents. Donning kitchen gloves enhances grip while protecting against potential slips on slippery surfaces.

Cleaning & Scaling The Fish

Start by rinsing the fish under cold water to remove any slime or dirt. Using a scaler or backside of a knife, scrape against the scales from tail to head. Rinse again and pat dry using paper towels.

The Filleting Process

Starting The Cut

Lay the fish on its side with its belly facing up on the cutting board. With your non-dominant hand, hold the head firmly while locating an incision point just behind the gills.

Making The Incision

Gently insert your fillet knife into the incision point and cut along the backbone towards one side of the fish’s spine all way down towards its tail.

Removing The First Fillet

Holding onto this first fillet, gently lift it away from the bones starting at its front end near gill area and carefully slide your knife between flesh and ribcage keeping it parallel to ribs until completely separate.

Filleting The Second Side Of Fish

Flipping Over The Pike To Repeat Process
Turn over remaining half of fish so that now opposite side is exposed for filleting.


Making Second Incision
Begin making second incision behind gills running along other side of backbone vertically toward tail. Cut through skin and flesh without cutting through bone.


Separating Second Fillet
Grasp second fillet firmly near front edge close to gill region in order raise separated portion above ribcage entirely.

Cleaning Up And Storing Your Fillets

Rinsing Fillets
Rinse both fillets under cold water to remove any remaining scales, blood, or other debris.

Trimming The Fillets
Inspect each fillet for any small bones and trim them away using a pair of clean kitchen scissors or tweezers. This ensures the fillet is ready for cooking.

Storage And Cooking Tips

Immediate Consumption/ Short Term Storage

If you plan on consuming the fillets soon after preparing them, refrigerate in an airtight container with a sprinkle of salt over ice.

Long-Term Freezing For Future Use

To freeze your pike fish fillets for later use, wrap each individually in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Store inside freezer-safe ziplock bags labeled with the date. They should last up to three months when properly frozen.

In Conclusion

Congratulations! You have now learned how to expertly fillet a northern pike fish from start to finish. With practice, this once-daunting task will become second nature. Always prioritize safety and cleanliness throughout the process while maintaining respect for this incredible freshwater species!