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Thread: How do you clean a shark or dogfish?

  1. #1

    Question How do you clean a shark or dogfish?

    After reading the thread about shark fishing got me excited. Of course I won't be out there in an inflatable anytime soon. I have always released the dogfish before because I have no clue how to clean them. Also, let's say I actually did catch a salmon shark and wanted to keep her, any tips on how to clean it or at least gut it for a processor? Is it similar to gutting animals?

    Thanks for the help

  2. #2

    Default Cleaning shark

    Having only cleaned one, all I can say is this:

    clean it immediately. Sharks will leach out toxins through thier skin after death (making sure its dead first is also a good idea). The ammonia will ruin the meat. You want to bleed it as soon as you get it to the boat (harpoons and guns help this) and then get it on ice.

    We ended up cutting it in to huge chunks first and throwing it in the cooler. We scooped up snow and ran for the nearest port immeidately to get it processed.

    Note that it may be hard to get the fish IN the boat if its a 300lb+ fish. We had to drag ours to shore to clean it right away.

    We took ours to a processor in Cordova so we did not actually do the cutting, but past that initial part its simple. They cut it up into dinner-sized portions (skin on)

    The liver is huge - takes up most of the fish. My wife's proudest photos of the shark trip were of the giant liver.

    If you are cleaning a dog fish watch for the dorsal spine. Its a nasty little suprise behind the fin.
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  3. #3
    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    homer, alaska

    Exclamation sharks and mercury

    i was talking to a shark researcher that is one of our finfish bios last night and he mentioned that an announcement concerning mercury in alaskan fish was forthcoming from juneau in the very near future. there was an article in the ADN concerning mercury in seafood a couple weeks ago iirc. anyhow, the upshot is that salmon sharks are hands down the "heaviest" as far as mercury goes. the recommendation will be no more then one serving (4oz.) per month, and none for children, pregnant women, or women who may become pregnant.
    yelloweye, and big lingcod are also on the list, but for political reasons apparently halibut have been averaged into acceptability...let's just say that not all the weight in a great big halibut is protein, if you get my drift <grin>.
    Alaska Board of Game 2015 tour... "Kicking the can down the road"

  4. #4
    Member Ripface's Avatar
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    Apr 2006


    I've eaten a number of sharks. We used to catch quite a few in Texas. As with mackerel and some other species of fish, you want to cut their tails off right away and bleed them good. Elevate their heads while you're at it. Fillet the shark and then skin it after it's bled. Throw the fillets on ice and you've got some good shark steaks.
    "Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile." - Homer, Odyssey

  5. #5


    Ripface got it right on the bleeding. Do it right away. For cold water sharks like dogfish and salmon sharks, it's better to cut their throats deeply between the gills and front fins rather than the tail. Their "blood pressure" isn't as high as warm water sharks, so they don't bleed as well with the tail cuts.

    The whole problem with sharks is that they regulate their body chemistry and blood "salinity" with urea, and you want to get that stuff out for good eating. Concentration varies with the species. That means getting rid of the blood first, then getting any remainders out of the meat. Fortunately for eating and care, dogfish are relatively low in urea compared to some other species.

    Soaking the meat in saltwater or anything else but freshwater simply doesn't work as well. In our experience you get the best results if the meat is no more than an inch thick. That means steaking the bigger fish before soaking, but dogfish fillets are thin enough you can do them directly.

    For home soaking in small containers, it works best if your water is constantly changing so the urea and blood don't build up in the water and slow the process. With large batches of meat we put a stand pipe in a big laundry sink, then turn the water on low and let it run into the sink overnight while contstantly draining.

    For small batches we simply put the fillets in a large stainless steel bowl, put that in the sink, and allow a small dribble of water to run into the bowl overnight while the overflow goes down the sink drain.

    With a constant water change and meat that is not too thick, you can get rid of the urea taste and smell completely. We've fed shark to friends for years and they never knew the difference. My mother-in-law thinks the "ling cod" in Alaska is much better than anywhere on the west coast. We tell her it's the cold water, but we don't tell her the cold water came from our faucet.

  6. #6
    Member CanCanCase's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Bandon, OR


    Anyone willing to do a photo tutorial (similar to the good doctor's excellent method for filleting salmon)...? A picture's worth 1000 words.... 10 pics?

    M/V CanCan - 34' SeaWolf - Bandon, OR


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