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Thread: Why gut salmon before filleting?

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    Default Why gut salmon before filleting?

    Sometimes I don't gut my salmon before filleting. Is this dangerous?

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    I wouldn't think so. I usually fillet my fish without gutting them. In doing this, I can keep the bellies intact for smoking.
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    Default it hasn't killed me yet

    I've never had or heard of any problems. Maybe a good idea to fillet from the tail and cut straight forward and not "saw" your knife back and forth thru the gut.

    The parasites in the gut burrow into the flesh pretty quick after the fish is killed anyway so I hear.



    Quote Originally Posted by Billybobsky View Post
    Sometimes I don't gut my salmon before filleting. Is this dangerous?
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
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    Member power drifter's Avatar
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    Filleting after gutting sucks! Is there danger? Holding a 10" sharp blade, yes I would say it could be dangerous.

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    Member c6 batmobile's Avatar
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    Is there a benefit? I always bonk mine then bleed em quickly after catching them but then I typically dont gut them until Im done fishing or take a break before I put them on ice. Its never loner than an hour or two.
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    There is only one disadvantage to filleting before gutting.... more potential for bloody fillets.

    Even when a fish is thoroughly bled out, the highly vascular kidney (so-called bloodline) will still contain a significant amount of blood. If significant pressure is applied during the fillet process, this blood WILL ooze out as blood vessels exiting the spine are severed, esp near the tail section.

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    Member thewhop2000's Avatar
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    I never gut my fish when dipping. I bleed them by pulling a gill or two and that is that. I just bring four coolers of ice to keep em cool till I get home and can use my electric carving knife. They are not gutted at home either. The electric carving knife only works if the guts are still intact.Those fish, once home are so cold, my hands become numb even in 80 degree weather when pulling them out of the coolers to fillet. As a side note, those knives are @ $$12.00 american so I fillet about 50 fish and then toss it away because it is easier and cheaper to just buy another than trying to sharpen a serratted edge. You just have to make sure that when you buy one, that it has a 9 inch blade. Kasilof fish can use an 8 inch but Kenai reds are twice their size, so you need a 9 inch.
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    I fillet the fish holding the tail and running the knife along the backbone toward the head and the removing the rib bones after I cut the fillet from the head. Leaves a very small amount of fresh on the backbone that can be removed if desired.

    Using that process the blood in the kidney is not an issue and there is only one clean continuous cut that is less subject to contaimination.


    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    There is only one disadvantage to filleting before gutting.... more potential for bloody fillets.

    Even when a fish is thoroughly bled out, the highly vascular kidney (so-called bloodline) will still contain a significant amount of blood. If significant pressure is applied during the fillet process, this blood WILL ooze out as blood vessels exiting the spine are severed, esp near the tail section.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

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    I haven't gutted salmon in years. I made a fish cleaning board that I take with me and cut the fillets off right after catching and put them in gallon ziploks on ice. Nothing to throw away when I get home. If there is a disadvantage, I don't know what it is. I find it easier to fillet right to the rib bones if they are supported by the guts.

  10. #10

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    If you gut them, you won't have nasty guts/acid/poop making contact with your meat on the fillet table. I don't care how careful you are, if you fillet a salmon with guts in, you contaminate your meat. Not a salmon fillet enters my freezer that wasn't gutted immediately after bleeding.

    Other advantages include:
    Fish cools quicker when iced
    No belly burn from the acid
    More thorough bleeding, as you can scrape the kidney, and rub the veins inside the belly cavity


    But I don't eat humpies either.

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    I don't ever cut into the guts so I never have stuff contaminating the meat. I cut the meat away from the rib cage leaving the rib bones in place. How would stuff get out of the guts if I don't cut into them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tvfinak View Post
    I fillet the fish holding the tail and running the knife along the backbone toward the head and the removing the rib bones after I cut the fillet from the head. Leaves a very small amount of fresh on the backbone that can be removed if desired.
    You gotta be right on the bones with your blade to draw blood. If you simply run the knife on top of the spine and leave a bunch of meat on the bones like the vast majority of folks do, your fillets will never be bloody.
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    Doc, you got it!!!! I leave about 2 ounces of meat on the bone by my electric knife but when dipnetting a 10 pound red, who really cares?
    I scrap them later for dogfood anyway. It's a win/win
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    I don't ever cut into the guts so I never have stuff contaminating the meat. I cut the meat away from the rib cage leaving the rib bones in place. How would stuff get out of the guts if I don't cut into them?
    If you look at the pic that doc posted, (which is a beautiful job, btw) you can see that the gut cavity is exposed. It's contaminated.

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    Member G_Smolt's Avatar
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    I head, tail, and gut before filleting.

    I bleed fish upon retention, then gut at the end of the fishing day. When I get them home, I head and tail them for better storage in my small fridge.

    After the fish slacks out under refrigeration (I give it 24 hours or so) is when I fillet...if you fillet before rigor, you are opening yourself up to a whole host of problems, as meat wasn't meant to go into rigor without a skeletal structure to keep it from contracting severely.

    I fillet from the head, in one cut, then flip and do the other side, then take the ribs out. Takes about 15 seconds for the actuall filleting of both sides, and a minute or so for a clean rib job.

    How to Fillet a Salmon

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    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    If you look at the pic that doc posted, (which is a beautiful job, btw) you can see that the gut cavity is exposed. It's contaminated.
    Contaminated with what? Even if there was some sort of contamination transferred to the fillet, it wouldn't matter unless the fillet isn't rinsed and is eaten raw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frostbitten View Post
    Contaminated with what? Even if there was some sort of contamination transferred to the fillet, it wouldn't matter unless the fillet isn't rinsed and is eaten raw.
    Stomach acid! Do you think a quick rinse gets it all off? You can eat all the belly acid you want, but I won't!

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    Member jay51's Avatar
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    I bleed em' as soon as they're caught, gut & chop heads when I'm done fishing for the day, then fillet at home. I don't really like frozen salmon and I don't have a vaccum sealer yet, so it usually goes right on the grill!

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by G_Smolt View Post
    I head, tail, and gut before filleting.

    I bleed fish upon retention, then gut at the end of the fishing day. When I get them home, I head and tail them for better storage in my small fridge.

    After the fish slacks out under refrigeration (I give it 24 hours or so) is when I fillet...if you fillet before rigor, you are opening yourself up to a whole host of problems, as meat wasn't meant to go into rigor without a skeletal structure to keep it from contracting severely.

    I fillet from the head, in one cut, then flip and do the other side, then take the ribs out. Takes about 15 seconds for the actuall filleting of both sides, and a minute or so for a clean rib job.

    How to Fillet a Salmon
    I honestly haven't noticed too much with filleting before rigor. I will say tho that some of the best king I've had has been king that has sat in slush for a few days before filleting..

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    Quote Originally Posted by 270ti View Post
    Stomach acid! Do you think a quick rinse gets it all off? You can eat all the belly acid you want, but I won't!
    From the pic, it doesn't appear that the gut was perforated, so I wouldn't be all that concerned about contamination. Even if it was perf'd, I doubt doc made sure that "stomach acid" was smeared over the entire fillet. A little trimming and a good rinse and it's all good.

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