Table of contents for Total Noob Beginners Fishing Guide
- The Fishing Rod: Parts & Terms
- The Fishing Reel: Types of Fishing Reels
- Terminal Tackle: All the Stuff on the Other End Your Rod
- Fishing With Live Bait
- Fishing With Prepared Baits
- Types of Fishing Lures
- Fish Anatomy
- Understanding Fish Senses
- Which Rod and Reel Should I Buy? – Your First Fishing Rod & Reel
- Two Knots You Absolutely Need to Know
- How to Assemble a Spinning Reel and Rod
- How to Load Line on a Spinning Reel
- How to Set the Drag on a Spinning Reel
- How to Cast Your Spinning Rod
- How to Find Fish
- How to Play and Land a Fish
- How to Keep and Clean Your Fish
You’re going to need a few things:
- sharp knife (a fillet knife is best, but any thin sharp knife will do)
- clean running water
- plastic bags
- cooler with crushed ice (best option, if possible)
*For the record, this is only one of your options after you catch a fish, your other option is to let it go.
Step 1: Kill It
Do the fish a favor and kill it quickly and humanely. Give it a good rap on the top of the head right behind the eyes with a stick or a commercially available “Priest” (a wooden or metal club used to dispatch fish).
Killing a fish quickly is not only kinder to the fish than letting it suffocate in the air or die on a stringer, but it also translates into better tasting fish. The sooner you clean the fish, the better.
Step 2: Clean It
Rinse the fish with clean (not lake) water, to remove the protective slime.
Remove both pectoral fins.
Scale the Fish (optional)
Use a scaling tool, a spoon, or the blunt side of a knife.
Run your scaling tool down the length of the fish’s body at an angle, from tail to head.
You’re done scaling when the body is smooth.
Gut the Fish
Insert the tip your knife into the anal vent.
Carefully slit the belly open all the way up to the gills. Be careful not to cut the internal organs, you don’t want to taint the meat.
Insert the tip of your knife (sharp side facing jaw) into one side of the tab directly beneath the jaw and push it out the other side of the tab.
Cut the tab free.
Hold onto the jaw with one hand.
With your other hand’s thumb, push into the tab
Use both your thumb and index finger to reach into the body cavity and pull out (forcefully) the guts and gills.
Scrape out the blood line (dark red line clinging to spine inside the body cavity) with your thumb’s fingernail or a spoon and rinse out body cavity.
Prepare Fish for Table
- Cut the head off, below the gills (optional).
- Cut the tail off (optional).
- If you want to remove the bones, cut along both sides of the dorsal fin and give it a good yank from the tail back to the head (optional).
Step 3: Keep It
- Properly dispose of the guts. Don’t litter. A good way to deal with the guts is to double bag them and put them in the freezer until trash day.
- In the field, pack the body cavity with ice and place in your cooler. Don’t let fish sit in the melt water.
- At home, store cleaned fish in a covered container in the refrigerator (40° or lower). Fish will keep for two days.
- To freeze, wrap the fish in plastic wrap as a vapor barrier (to prevent freezer burn) and follow that with a good-quality freezer wrap.