After The Catch
I was always tought to never bleed my fish. I was told that ruined the meat. Fillet them fresh as possible with the blood still in the meat. Also, I know a lot of people bleed salmon through the gills and then fillet them. Some say that makes the meat less fishy. I dont know considering I dont eat much fish unless I smoke it. I ate too much of that stuff growing up.
I keep only a couple fish each year and all of them end up in the Big Chief. I dont know if that changes the equation or not. Is there really a benefit to bleeding your catch?
I think so
It's said that blood decomposes much more rapidly than tissue and so the more blood that's left in the muscle tissue, the more prone the meat is to take on an "off" taste and also to spoil.
Most of my fishing is done from the bank and my routine is to sever the spine with my knife at the base of the head and then immediately punch Xs through the gill plates on both sides. Then, I lay the head of the fish downhill from the tail (so the blood runs away from the fish and doesn't coagulate in a pool all around the fish) and the fish will pretty much pump itself dry of all its blood before the heart gives out.
Man, sounds sort of morbid when I explain it...
Actually, the fish bleeds. I bonk the fish on the head and then take a finger and break one or more gill arches. Let it bleed until dead. I've never heard that you should not bleed a fish. I read some literature (see link below) from Fish & Game on how to care for your catch and it said that you should bleed the fish.
I've been working on commercial fishing boats since I was a kid, and bleeding the catch has always been a central part of the process. Well, with halibut we just gut them right away, but with sablefish and rockfish we bleed them first. When sportfishing, though, I also bleed my halibut before gutting or filleting them. It makes a very noticeable difference in the meat - much, much better after bleeding.
Incidentally, if you want them to bleed out completely, it's best to keep them in the water while bleeding. They'll bleed out fairly well on the bank, but the blood will flow longer and better if they're in the water on a stringer or in a tub filled with water.
All commercially butchered meat—beef, pork, fowl, etc.—is bled. I knew a fellow who had a trout farm, raising trout commercially for market, and he said the first rule was to get the gills out of the fish within five minutes of taking them out of the water. . . for what it's worth. . .
Curious why you gut the halibut. I don't clean that many so when I get near the head I just cut the fillets off & toss the remaining carcus with the insides included. If there is a better way I would like to learn it as I always struggle a little up by the stomahce.
I don't always gut the ones I catch while sportfishing...sometimes I do just as you described, but I still will bleed them first. As for commercial fishing, however, we have to gut them. We don't fillet those fish, nor can we remove the heads. Regulations require that we can only remove the guts before delivery. We're usually out between 3-4 days, so if we left the guts in, well...it wouldn't be too good. They're kept well iced, but it still helps to remove the guts. Some fish processors instruct us to leave the guts in sablefish and rockfish, but halibut are always gutted. Not necessarily the way to go when sportfishing, especially due to the mess it can create, but bleeding is still a good idea.
not only does the bleeding make for better meat, for the hens, it also will make for far better eggs to cure as well. The last thing a female will do at death is send as much blood to the eggs as possible ... an incredible difference in the amount of blood that is in the eggs with bled fish and unbled fish. Try it on a few reds this year and you'll get to see the difference first hand!
About gutting fresh-caught halibut, I've always heard it's done so that worms infesting the fish's gut don't migrate to the meat. Don't know whether that's true or not, but . . . why chance it?