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Thread: clip and immediately fillet?

  1. #1
    Member Berto's Avatar
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    Question clip and immediately fillet?

    i am a dipping newby. the regs are too vague for me to gleen my answer, so here is my question for all on the web to read and respond.

    i had a successful weekend dipping. i kept my fish in an open tote until i was satisfied with my dipping effort. then i pulled out the fillet board, knife, and kitchen shears and started cleaning my fish. On each fish, I first clipped the tail, then filleted, then threw the carcass (clipped tail attached) into the river. I immediately placed the fillets on ice in a cooler and started on the next fish.

    It then dawned on me that what i was doing might be illegal since if a trooper opened my cooler to inspect my catch, whether it be on the beach or as part of a traffic violation on my drive home, he/she would not find clipped tails, but only fillets, and lots of them...so was my clipping and filleting method "on site" illegal or legal?

  2. #2
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    Default Without a doubt Illegal

    Here's the deal; you have to clip your fins before concealing the fish or stowing them in the cooler. Concealing even means putting them into a open cooler without a lid. The reason for this isn't so much to keep dip netters and commercial guys honest but it's to keep them honest and accurately account for the take of fish by the different methods. A commercial outfit could easily rally a few boats and dump the fish into their holds and trot off to the dock and cash in while the others really hit the ocean. On the flip side (silly dipnet pun intentionally inserted here) the dipnetter could get into some hot water (another one, I know I'm shameless) with the local "Moose and Goose" for packing away 300#'s of what may appear as sport caught fish ("Honestly officer I caught 'em with a net and every one else was doing it...").

    Now that that is out of the way I'll give you my personal perspective on filleting fish at the fishery. (say that five times fast)...

    I wait until I get home. At most I'll just gut the fish and make my feathered fecal bombers catch a chunk of sein in the air and dive bomb the water behind the guy that bagged my net or said something distasteful about me catching more fish than he did... I really don't like poor sportsmanship (got another bit of irony there in case you're looking for it ).

    I wait until I get home to fillet and process and here's why; scenario number one... You whip out a tasty fillet labeled "Biggest sockeye ever, July 2009". You wife makes a teriaki and orange juice concentrate merinade and soaks it for 8 hours. When you have the pastor from church over for dinner you all marvel at how wonderful the fish is and your bride, in all her beauty blushes and revels in the attention, then all of a sudden you hear a "CRUNCH" and the pastor winces, grabs his left jaw and starts pounding on the table with the hand that is still holding the ice tea glass. The ice tea glass shatters and then there's blood everywhere and people are screaming, dishes are flying and your wife has begun to sob uncontrollably while you think in the back of your head, "Did I get all the sand off the fillets before I sealed them?"

    Scenario number two: You whip out a tasty fillet labeled "37.5 Pound sockeye/Kenai River, July 2009". You wife makes a teriaki and orange juice concentrate merinade and soaks it for 8 hours. When you have the pastor from church over for dinner you all marvel at how wonderful the fish is and your bride, in all her beauty blushes and revels in the attention. The pastor tells you that he heard from another congregation member that they are looking for a signature recipe for a new restruant and this may be the one. You and your wife enjoy free dinners for the rest of your life at the fancy new restraunt and all is well with the world. And all becuase you decided to keep your fish whole and process them at home instead of on the river.
    "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit is better than he who takes a city." ~ Proverbs 16:32

  3. #3
    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    HAHAHA....

    You get my nomination for "most creative and thought-out reply" as well as a nod toward "most humorous but serious at the same time reply."

    That first scenario had me cracking up...lol

  4. #4
    Member Sockeye Scott's Avatar
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    Default I agree to fillet at home

    I agree it is better to fillet the fish at home however, I live in Kenai so it is easier for me to do it then some one from anchorage. I put a lot of time and effort into getting my fish and I like to fillet them at home to keep them clean and I can do a much better job at filleting them with less waste.

    I remember a year or so ago there were some big totes for people to throw the heads, guts, and bones into and then they were disposed of somewhere else. With everyone cleaning their fish on the beach there are heads (and seagulls) everywhere. It also gets annoying to keep catching them in my net.

    Scott

  5. #5

    Default

    The regs say whether you can or can't fillet right away but just to be safe, I wouldn't. If someone finds that you can't fillet, I apologize. Just clip, head, gut, and make sure you have everything recorded on your permit before you put them away. That's what I do. You don't wanna clean your fish on that nasty beach anyways.

    In the regs for kings in Ninilchik & Kasilof, the regs are specific about filleting or mutilating the fish in any way that prevents the determination of whether the king is hatchery or not. I think the same would apply if it was big deal F&G so they could tell if the fins were clipped off or not.

  6. #6
    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    Default Fish care

    Well, Rob wins again for the best laugh of the day! Thanks, and here's your rep point!

    Fish care is critical to the fish tasting best. I cringe when I watch how people care for thier fish. I spent 10 years commercial power trolling in my 45'er inSouthEast, and canneries would beg me to sell to them. My fish were always rated #1, didn't have a scale missing, no belly burn was ever seen, fish flesh was perfect. So how do you get there? It's easy.

    When you catch your fish, at the same time you pull them out of the net, reach your finger in and pull only one side of the outside gill. (you can use your knife, but don't just stick in in there.. carefully cut only one outside gill) Don't beat them so bad thier heart stops! Pulling this one gill allows the heart to completely pump the blood out of thier system. This is so critical to get great eating fish, I can't EMPHASIZE it enough!

    Okay, so your fish is slowly bleeding to death with a SLIGHT headache. Let him slowly take his time.. (sorry PETA) and go back to fishing, after you clip thier fins, WASH them off, and put them in a cooler. Don't let them lay in the sand! That sand is dirty, stinky, and not everyone gets to the nice sanikans in time! Your fish will start tasting like that sand or worse.

    Okay, now your fishing again, your fish has probably passed on after about 5 minutes, but still bleeding slightly. Grab the fish out of your first cooler, and head and gut ONLY on the beach! Be careful not to touch the exposed flesh to the sand. A quick rinse is okay, unless you can avoid it and use fresh water. Probably too much work and not super critical.

    After you pull the guts, take a spoon or your finger and run them down the inside of the belly walls to empty out any blood in those larger veins. A properly bled fish won't have these, but if your 6 your old went to town on the kill with his billy club, the fish might have died too quickly and not bled properly...

    Okay, your fish is cleaned, headed (you really don't have to head them) gutted. DON'T PUT THEM in the cooler with the other bleeding fish! Always have two coolers. Put this nice, clean, good smelling fish in the clean cooler. A little ice won't hurt, but not as critical when your fish is properly cleaned and bled. Still, don't every let them sit around for more then 6 to 8 hours before finishing them up and getting them on ice. On big days, I'll take the whole fish home, wrap them in freezer paper, and fillet them as I eat them in the winter.

    If your using a Kenai Keeper.. great tool and I need to get one... make sure you pull that one gill before stringing them up. Don't drag them around for more then 45 minutes, or your going to belly burn and lose flavor. Bring them to your wife on the beach and tell her to get to cleaning... after you recover from your black eye, get back to fishing! Speaking of black eyes.. don't hit your fish anywhere but on the head. If you hit them in the back, it's going to bruise them, and bruise means blood is going to settle in that spot, and that part will taste like crap.

    Hope this helps someone! Good Luck!
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Well, I suppose I'm in the great minority here. I fillet at the beach most of the time. I will say that out of 90 fillets that I processed last week, I found fewer than 10 grains of sand total when canning and vacuum-packing. My secret? I take my time. It took me longer to fillet my fish than it did to catch them, but I ended up with beautiful, clean fillets that I would have happy to serve to my pastor.

  8. #8

    Default What you don't know ...

    I'm a strict non-filleter non-headntailnfin cutteroffer due to a number of factors, especially water quality for rinsing exposed meat.

    We don't bonk the fish, we break a gill and let them bleed out. When we field clean them, we only gut them and clean out the blood line. I gut them standing up to save my back, then do a quick rinse. I don't like to have any meat exposed to the environment until I get home to fish cleaning camp.

    Having crewed on a Cook Inlet drift gillnetter and cleaned the hold etc., I do not want what is pumped off those boats in my meat, nor what is pumped out of the processing plants.

    Bleed 'em, gut 'em, rinse 'em, ice 'em, and get 'em home for the final processing is my preferred method.

  9. #9
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Definitely don't do the whole kick the fish up the beach and smash it with a rock routine. In the last couple weeks I've watched more amateurs ruin more fish that way. A couple days at the Kasilof mouth last week and I don't think I saw a single person outside of my own group handle their caught fish correctly. It was nearly always drag it through the mud and sand, smash it in the head, then gut them and toss them into a cooler.

    I'm a stringer guy and pretty much don't get out of the water. Bring the net back to you, get a death grip over the back of the head with a thumb in one gill and a couple fingers in the other. Slice a gill and let the fish bleed, then unwrap it from your net. Run the fish onto the stringer and toss it back in the water. Zero "bonking" as you want the fish to stay alive and bleed out, while it is still in the river.

    After you've got your take and everything on the stringer is bled and dead, make sure you snip the tails (heavy duty scissors are the best) and lay them all in the cooler. Head back to the house and do ALL the cleaning at home (20 minutes from Kasilof). Running clean water, good lighting, and a table of the right height make all the difference. Don't even bother to gut them. Just cut the fillets right off a whole fish. Before tossing the carcass into a bucket that will be headed for the garden, check for females and cut out the eggs for Silver fishing in a couple weeks.

    The next step I think is nearly as important. Freeze 'em and glaze 'em right away, then vaccuum pack them. As a kid, I spent my fair share working the Kenai canneries during the summers and one thing they do is spray a glaze coat over the frozen fish. It completely seals the meat. It's not hard to do something similar at home. After doing a good final rinse of each fillet, I lay them out skin down on a flat tray on the bottom of the freezer that has a layer of freezer paper on it (gloss up). Then lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the wet fillets and smooth it out to remove air. Let them freeze just like this.

    After they are frozen solid, remove the plastic film and discard. Pop them off the freezer paper and dip each frozen fillet into cold water and put it back in the freezer. Wait a few minutes for that layer to freeze up. Look at the meat and if you can see a glossy layer of clear ice over the entire meat surface, it is ready to vac pack. Otherwise, dip it in cold water and put it back in the freezer for a few. You can add several coats of water to build up a good meat seal prior to the vac packing.
    Winter is Coming...

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  10. #10
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    Default

    I have found that a good quality set of game shears (the strong ones made of stainless steel that come in a cambrella (?) sheath with a belt loop) are the best for clipping the tails of reds or kings. The ones I have would easily clip the tails of the largest Copper kings, and have a spring that opens the jaws as soon as I stop squeezing them. It has a stainless steel loop on the grip's ends to hold them close.

    I clip the tails right after, cut the gills to bleed it, and never fillet. The best way to avoid freezer burns is to gut the fish, remove the heads, and all the dark red stuff by the rib cage above the guts. I make a long cut along this liver-looking stuff, and then use a tablespoon to scrape off, rinse the fish, and place it in the cooler. When placing in the cooler, I fill the stomach cavity with ice, and then cover the fish with more ice.

    When I get home, I rinse the fish with clean water, tap dry with a towel, wrap with plastic foil, followed by freezer paper. However, that's the best time to fillet one or two to bake or grill right after. The rest go in the freezer. To thaw, I do so in the refrigerator. Once thawed, i filled as needed and cook.

  11. #11

    Default Preferred tail clippers

    Fantastic info, JOAT. Hats off to ya.

    A lady on the Copper River one year let me use her bandage shears. They are light and inexpensive and are quick to use. They have been my choice since.

    Our procedure boat fishing has been to do the official count when we get to shore by clipping and counting all the tails before we do any cleaning.

    When there are too many in a pile to find them all easily, we stop counting at a good multiple of ten and start gutting.

    When the unclipped tails start showing up again, we'll start clipping and counting again.

    Only clipped, counted, gutted, and marked fish go in the cooler for transport to camp.

    ~tr

  12. #12

    Default

    OK..... back to Berto's original question: Is it legal or illegal to immediately fillet fish caught while dipnetting?

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    Member ripnlip's Avatar
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    Default

    For what its worth, and I know they wont have the final say in the field, I talked to someone at F&G and he said either clip the fins or fillet em. Now, if I did get busted I wasnt gonna say some dude at the F&G said it was ok, I just take my chances I guess.

  14. #14
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Default

    We do the team effort. I give the head a quick bonk, rip a gil, then my kids take care of gutting, they chop the tail with a hatchet and a block of wood, then pull them on a snow sled up to the coolers full of ice. We take care of the filleting and other processing chores back at home.

    It makes me sick at all the fish you see just baking on the shore covered with sand for a couple hours until they are taken care of.

  15. #15
    Member Berto's Avatar
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    Default an answer

    yesterday after posting this thread, i checked with a friend of mine who works at fish and game. this past weekend he had a trooper check him while dipnetting the kenai. it just so happens he asked the trooper my question about filleting while still on site. Below is the trooper's reply:

    "You can leave the tail unclipped if in plain sight. If you put whole fish or basically any fish with a tail intact out of sight, such as in a cooler, you must clip the tail and have your permit filled out [This part is clear in the regs]. You CAN fillet the fish and hide from view, but the permit must be filled out [This part is unclear in the regs]."

    i hope this helps all who, like me and evidently Brian M, prefer to fillet on site

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    Member garnede's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    We do the team effort. I give the head a quick bonk, rip a gil, then my kids take care of gutting, they chop the tail with a hatchet and a block of wood, then pull them on a snow sled up to the coolers full of ice. We take care of the filleting and other processing chores back at home.

    It makes me sick at all the fish you see just baking on the shore covered with sand for a couple hours until they are taken care of.
    +1 a hatchet and a block of wood make a great setup. I bonk with the hatchet, bleed, clip tails, and rinse. Gutting and/or filetting come later.
    It ain't about the # of pounds of meat we bring back, nor about how much we spent to go do it. Its about seeing what no one else sees.

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    Member tzieli22's Avatar
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    Default As of yesterday 7/21

    When I left the boat ramp at about 7pm & two fish and game guys came by to say hello... As we talked, I told them this was my first time and he said "great"... Did you clip the tails? Fill out your card? Oh and by the way, can I check you license also? After looking at everything they said, you pass, you got a 100%... Clip your tails, before you come back to shore and also fill out your card. Beyond that, its your choice. If you don't do at least these two things (plus have your license, we give you a reminder of $110 per fish that is not taken care of this way. Then they flipped through there books to show me how many people don't do these 2 or 3 things.

    So, clip, fill out your card, and have your license on you. Filleting location is your choice.

    Good luck.
    Tony

  18. #18
    Member jmg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Back Country Robb View Post
    Here's the deal; you have to clip your fins before concealing the fish or stowing them in the cooler. Concealing even means putting them into a open cooler without a lid.

    Robb

    I am curious where you come up with the rule that tails have to be clipped before you put them even into an open cooler? On the recording card, I believe it says you have to clip them before concealing them OR removing them from the dipnetting site, something to that effect. I was discussing with my wife this weekend whether the "OR" should be followed by "whichever comes first," or "whichever comes second." I have always bonked, bled, put them into a cooler that has a lid on it, and then clipped the tails before leaving the site. I might be in the wrong there since my cooler has a lid - that would be "concealment." It would depend on whether it is "whichever comes first" as noted above.

    In any event, by your definition of "conceal," a fish in an open cooler would also be "concealed"? Where does that come from? Is a fish someone just put on the sand with no cooler also "concealed"? I would think not. How would these two situations be different if both can obviously be seen in plain view by an officer walking by?

    Just curious. Thanks.

    jmg
    Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.

  19. #19

    Default fish care

    WHen we started dipping fish care was not high on the list. Now we bleed them on the beach and bonk just enough to get the job done. Bleeding seems to be the #1 best thing to get good tasting fish, and #2 seems to be keeping the fish cool until final storage.

    I fillet on the beach, very carefully, and then store the fish on ice until we get home. My technique with the ice is a little different. The fish are NEVER allowed to sit in ice water accumulating in the cooler. The cooler is elevated on one end and the drain spigot is left open. On the drive home I will stop 3-4 times to drain the coolers (usually by then little ice melt is occurring).

    Once home the fish are immediately vacuum wrapped and frozen. We do not have sand issues with our fish, and the taste is great. But the filleting takes a lot of time.

    unk

  20. #20
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    Default Here ya go...

    Quote Originally Posted by jmg View Post
    Robb

    I am curious where you come up with the rule that tails have to be clipped before you put them even into an open cooler? On the recording card, I believe it says you have to clip them before concealing them OR removing them from the dipnetting site, something to that effect. I was discussing with my wife this weekend whether the "OR" should be followed by "whichever comes first," or "whichever comes second." I have always bonked, bled, put them into a cooler that has a lid on it, and then clipped the tails before leaving the site. I might be in the wrong there since my cooler has a lid - that would be "concealment." It would depend on whether it is "whichever comes first" as noted above.

    In any event, by your definition of "conceal," a fish in an open cooler would also be "concealed"? Where does that come from? Is a fish someone just put on the sand with no cooler also "concealed"? I would think not. How would these two situations be different if both can obviously be seen in plain view by an officer walking by?

    Just curious. Thanks.

    jmg
    I knew it was only a matter of time before someone called me on the carpet on this. We, as dip netters, have our own unique "systems" and rituals that we perform, however; we may not all be doing it according to the regulations. On page 17 of the Southcentral 2009 Fishing Regs you will find this, verbatim:

    "A person may not possess salmon taken under a personal use salmon fishing permit unless both tips of the tail fin have been immediately removed from the salmon. Immediately means before concealing the salmon from plain view or transporting the salmon from the fishing site. This definition of immediately applies only to the personal use fishery and DOES NOT apply to recording King Salmon (or other fish) taken in the sport fishery on the sport fishing license or harvest record."

    "All fish harvested (salmon and flounder) must be recorded on the permit, in ink, immediately upon harvesting the fish."

    The term "Immediately" really doesn't leave anything to interpret. Although I am among the many that clip later, the regs are clear; as for your personal situation of fish being in an open cooler - once you have several fish in the cooler there are still some on the bottom that are not visible... thus under the definition of being concealed. I'm with everyone else, just as guilty as the rest on a few occasions.
    My method is to fill my stringer, a tap on the noggin to knock out the wiggles and then rip a gill, fill up a stringer and then clip the tails before stowing away in the ice cooler.
    "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit is better than he who takes a city." ~ Proverbs 16:32

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