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Thread: Techniques for Bleeding Fish

  1. #1

    Default Techniques for Bleeding Fish

    Hi All,
    Need some ideas on how you bleed your fish. I found out that bleeding your fish really does make a difference in the quality of the salmon (even pink salmon) and so it's going to be a standard practice for us from now on. Trouble is, with what I've read on it, it's best to bleed your fish
    in water so my quandry is how to bleed my fish while keeping it in water. I thought about putting the bleeding fish into some sort of container with water in it, but since I shore fish mostly, that would involve carrying a lot of stuff to the fishing spots.

    How do you all bleed your fish? I know about the cutting the gill rakers, but how do you bleed the fish out? Looking for ideas and suggestions to make the best of the fish I catch.

  2. #2
    Member matjpow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FbksFishinFool View Post
    Hi All,
    Need some ideas on how you bleed your fish. I found out that bleeding your fish really does make a difference in the quality of the salmon (even pink salmon) and so it's going to be a standard practice for us from now on. Trouble is, with what I've read on it, it's best to bleed your fish
    in water so my quandry is how to bleed my fish while keeping it in water. I thought about putting the bleeding fish into some sort of container with water in it, but since I shore fish mostly, that would involve carrying a lot of stuff to the fishing spots.

    How do you all bleed your fish? I know about the cutting the gill rakers, but how do you bleed the fish out? Looking for ideas and suggestions to make the best of the fish I catch.
    I just cut the gills, put it on a stringer and put the stringer in the water with said fish attatched.

    I don't bonk the fish to death. I just let it bleed to death. Seems less cruel to let it bleed to death. Well ok...who cares... the fish might feel pain but they have no concept of it.

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  3. #3
    Member algonquin's Avatar
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    Default bleeding fish

    I always just reach is the gills and twist them and pull, after they bleed a bit then I use the butt end of my deck knife and run it from tail to head along the lateral line a couple of times to force the last of the blood out.
    PS don't tell anybody I do this as I want to look good to the PETA folks cause I care lol

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    Default both sides

    We always slit the gills on both sides of the fish to bleed them, not just one side. When we are fishing where we can't keep the fish in the water on a stringer (on shore) we use the stringer to hang the fish upside down to let gravity help it bleed out. When on the boat we put it in the live well for a little while running the pump to circulate the water. After a little while we clean them and put them on ice in the cooler. If when cleaning them we are going to leave them whole we also make sure to remove the gills.

  5. #5

    Wink

    I chop the tail off the instant I land them and put them on a line in the water. They bleed out fairly quickly doing this. As soon as they stop moving, I dress them and put them on ice, and I mean right now, not when I get around to it. The fish is never on a stringer or out of the ice more that 4 or 5 minutes.
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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Use a fish stringer. Even from shore. Just get or build a longer one. The one I made is 3/16" vinyl coated cable. I crimped a lanyard clip on one end, and a spike on the other of about 10 feet of wire. The spike I turned on a lathe from 5/8" aluminum roundbar to put a taper and rounded point at one end. I drilled it near the center for the cable. I also gave it a 15 bend with a 45 cut on the end opposite the point, so it looks similar to the little trout stringers you get at the tackle shop. Clip the stringer around your waist and go fishing.

    Some say cut/rip 1 gill, others cut both. I've tried both methods and can't tell any difference. I never "bonk". With sockeye it usually takes about 5 minutes for the fish to bleed out and die by this method.
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  7. #7
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    Default Depends on the fish ...

    With salmon, usually pith the fish while it is still in the net. From the top, a little behind the eyes, where the bony part of the head ends I cut stright down thru the spine with a real sharp Cutco filet knife, going far enough to get the heart. They bleed out real fast and they do not flop around brusing the meat.

    Everything else (Halibut, Ling, and Rockfish), I use a larger pair of stainless steel dykes, pop open the back side of the gill plate and with a couple of snips, they are bleeding out nicely. The only advantage over a knife is that you are not hanging on to a large flopping fish with a sharp knife where bad things could happen.

    I never put the fish back in the water, especially fresh water. The living fish maintains a salt balance in it's body that is saltier than the water it came out of, if you kill the fish, it will start to absorbe the water you put it back into, soaking up any nasty stuff in that water.

    It really makes a huge difference in the quality of the meat, well worth doing ...

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    Bonk or no bonk, the heart continues to beat after the fish is brain dead... who of you as a kid hasn't marveled at the still-beating heart when cleaning a fish?

    As for location, blood letting is blood letting. Put a big enough leak in the critter's circulatory system and he'll be bled and dead before you know it. The key element to keep blood from pooling into dependent areas is to use gravity to your advantage. If you cut the gills. suspend the fish by the tail... if you cut the tail, suspend the fish by the gills.

    Simple physics.

    And to the guy who said this:

    I never put the fish back in the water, especially fresh water. The living fish maintains a salt balance in it's body that is saltier than the water it came out of, if you kill the fish, it will start to absorbe the water you put it back into, soaking up any nasty stuff in that water.
    Amen, brother. Amen!

    Moreover, no water should ever touch open flesh for the same reason. Why do so many folks insist on power-washing their fillets
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  9. #9

    Default Help Me Out On This One Doc...

    I remember reading on this forum one year that if a fish isn't completely put out of its misery, the fish on the stringer will be "under stress" and that they secrete a chemical that can possibly ruin or change the flavor of the meat. If that's the case, I guess bonk away right?

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    Member thewhop2000's Avatar
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    Thumbs up I say beat them and scream they had a knife

    Always worked for me

  11. #11
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    Adrenaline, YoGee. Lactic acid builds up in a human upon strenuous exercize, and that is why your muscles feel like "jello" prior to stiffening up. Same thing in fish - the more stressed they are, having been played out at the end of the line by not quickly landing 'em, the more "red meat" (the rancid tasting part) one must trim out of a fillet. It is most apparent in a white-ish fillet, having dressed thousands of White Bass and Catfish by trimming out this reddish "lateral line."

    Hmmm...Now I need to contrast how much of this lateral line is blood and how much is acid?....Oh, boy! And I thought opening a can of worms was for fishing!

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    We simply gave them one good thump with a bonker and pulled a few gills on each side and let it go at that. The reds we had were some of the best table fare you will find any where!

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    Default My thoughts on fishing Reds on the Kenai

    Well guys here are a few things i found. One i dont like Coho flies. I dont think my hook ups were as good and i lost/missed more fish with them. I used Gamakatsu octopus hooks with a bit of yarn tied and glued to the hook. I also tied some with bucktail. Color did not make a real difference. I used them on a 3ft snell of 25lb mono to a swivel and a few really big splitshot next to the swivel so the swivel would not let it slide to the hook. you of course had to vary the number of splitshot to match the conditions to the get the tick of the bottom as you made your drift. I did not do the famous Kenai twitch. I found most of the fish right next to shore. 85% were caught within 5ft of shore. I used an 8.5ft Ugly Stick and i loved it. I used a Pflueger President spinning reel and loved that as well. At one point i was catching fish behind people. They finally got it figured out and backed up.

    My biggest suprise was the lack of snagged fish. Of the many i caught only two were snagged. Both snagged in the tail. I thought it would be a much bigger problem. After a week of fishing and many fish caught it was a small percentage. Both fish were released and swam off like nothing happened. I also caught a 4lb Dolly and a 5lb Rainbow. Both were released as i had no clue about the law on them and i was not interested in them anyway and had no desire to catch any of them. Fishing Reds on the Kenai was a real blast to say the least. What a great fishery!

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    I break their necks. Easy to demonstrate, hard to explain but here goes:
    Put left hand over back of fish just behind the head, take two fingers in each gill from underneath the head and pull up. This kills the fish instantly and severs the main artery. You will see blood squirt up to three feet when doing this.
    It looks cruel but is actually the most humane way to dispatch your fish.
    If you can't understand my simple instructions let me know, I will try to take a picture next time I do it.

  15. #15

    Default

    Ok obviously there are a hundred different techniques for doing this! What we did this last time (and the first time I ever bled a fish) was I first bonked the fish as I landed it, removed the hook and opened the gill covers and cut all the arches I could on both sides. Then I laid the fish in a milk crate on shore to bleed out and to restrain the fish more than just laying it on the ground.

    When I was done fishing I took the mess of fish I caught back to my RV park and cleaned them. Since I don't know how to fillet (I gotta learn this one of these days) I took the cleaned fish to a processor to fillet, vacuum-pack and freeze.

    When I picked up the fish to come home, I could sure tell which ones were bled and which ones weren't! I was amazed at the difference in color!

  16. #16
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocnfish View Post
    I never put the fish back in the water, especially fresh water. The living fish maintains a salt balance in it's body that is saltier than the water it came out of, if you kill the fish, it will start to absorbe the water you put it back into, soaking up any nasty stuff in that water.
    While the whole osmosis issue exists, it doesn't matter at the small scale we are talking about. First, don't open the fish. Cut a gill or two and that's it. As long as you don't expose the meat there will be no osmosis effect (even in fresh water) for the short period of time that the fish is bleeding out. The outer skin will not absorb water into the fish by having it on a stringer for up to an hour (and probably much, much longer). Further, the outer skin will not allow all the "nasty stuff" you speak of to get to the meat. Just don't open the fish. Clean it later and in a sanitary location (better yet, cut the fillets off the outside without gutting the fish at all). You will do far more damage by letting the fish warm up to air temperature. Much better to leave it in cold water. Transfer to a crushed ice cooler is naturally the best thing.

    Adrenalin? Hardly an issue. Lactic acidosis occurs when the muscles are overworked and under oxygenated for a length of time. It takes a LONG time to get there. Cutting the gills and bleeding a fish to death over a few minutes is way too short a time for acidosis to develop. Even if it could happen 10 times faster than biology allows, "bonking" the brain wouldn't stop this process. The only way to stop it is for the muscle cells to stop living. All the "stress" activity has already occurred when you hooked or first netted the fish. By the time you have the fish landed, the stress reaction is already in full swing and the smack on the head can't "undo" it. And even with the brain injury, the heart is still running just fine. The only thing that will stop acidosis from developing is to get the blood out quickly.

    I'd argue that having a very active fish with cut gills would bleed it much faster than a brain dead fish. The muscle action will assist with moving more blood. A flaccid fish will start to pool blood right away. All that said, in the grand scheme of things I doubt you could really tell the difference. What you can tell the difference between is a cold & bled fish compared to a warm & bonked fish.
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  17. #17
    Member Crab_n_fish's Avatar
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    I wrote a lengthy reply to not only commend the efforts of Joat but wherein I found him wrong, due to my medical background training, I'm now holding back. It is not for me to argue or have a moderator lose sleep over it, in a vain effort to prove who is right or wrong, all over a fish preservation question much simpler than we "eggheads" could bore the rest of us with, coupled with fancy terms no one understands. All I can say, is that I hope he is right -- not to mention how the brain dies, as the electrical conduit of the nervous system, to keep charging the synapses and neurons to keep a heart beating.

    (Think of bypassing the solenoid, regulator, bendix and battery to get your old-school '60s muscle car started...kinda hard, isn't it? Ok, a rope around the flywheel, or harmonic balancer, may work, but this isn't Archie Comics or his dilapidated Model T! LOL)

    To avoid any confrontation, let's take a look at landed fish, with lactic acid build up:

    http://www.texomastriperguidefishing...ge/2247176.htm

    Don't get me wrong, here! One can easily spot this is a striper; however others may claim White Bass. I can spot the difference easily, due to more than one lateral strip extending, unbroken, to the tail! Ahhh, heck...could be a "chum salmon!" Right?! LOL

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    Rip there gills, throw them in the @#&$%^g cooler!!!! ***

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    Member Crab_n_fish's Avatar
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    As a licensed nurse in the past, I know my stuff; and being blue-collar now I remember said stuff:

    http://www.rodrule.com/Rodrule1004/fishing_articles.html

    I don't mean to knock ya, or to get confrontational. It is not my intention. I just want the clarification, if we can compare notes, and how I may be wrong or you may be wrong. Overall it's relevant up to a point, and to a point it is not...How 'bout them Cowboys?! SuperBowl, and Emmit is coming out of retirement to lead the way!

  20. #20

    Default

    Not rocket science. kgcpr seemed to sum it all up well. The Gamakatsu hooks are great and sticky sharp out of the box. Coho flies suck. I go with 30lb. Vanish for a leader off a 3 way swivel and the remaining ring of the 3 way gets a 4" lenght of mono to hang the splitshot from. Upon switching to this setup, our catch rate increased minimum 50%. I tend to go longer (4-5') on the leader to start with, easy to shorten it up (today did not hook up regularly until I shortened the leader to about 3.5' and backed off on the weight. Also, I use the very minimum (only a few strands) of orange fiber to snell onto the hook. I've found that most guys (and the flies that are store bought) use way too much "fly"/fiber material; these seems to bulk up the fly and keeps it from sinking quickly.
    In addition to pulling some gills on both sides of the head, we plunge the knife into the soft area directly behind the gills.

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