By Joe Cermele
You would think the ability to clean fish comes with the territory of knowing how to catch them. I pride myself on doing it well, as nothing burns me more than killing a fish, then butchering the meat into an unappetizing pile of mush. I can think of many situations where good anglers have passed me the knife, or subtly asked if I'd be cool with cleaning the fish. For the most part, these guys are catch-and-release anglers who keep only occasionally, but I've also had some casual, non-hardcore anglers hook a fish on my boat and ask if I'd clean it before the net even hit the water. The thoughts of doing it themselves was mortifying.
All that said, you might think a DVD devoted entirely to fish-cleaning seems a bit much. That's what I thought, too, when I got a copy of Minnesota guide Steve Scepaniak's "Fish Cleaning Made Easy!" But after watching it (all of it, I was enthralled, frankly) I've decided it is probably one of the most informative fishing videos I've ever watched, partially because it's very clear and well put together, and partially because I'd rather have more anglers know how not to waste fish they kill than how to actually catch them.
Steve shows you how to clean, skin, scale, fillet, and bone 9 species, including perch, crappie, trout, and catfish. He even details removing pesky Y bones from pike. Mixed in with all is a great knife-sharpening bit and tips on keeping your catch fresh on the water.
A lot of this stuff seems like a no-brainer, but I promise you'll learn something, whether you've been cleaning fish for years or never tried it. There's not one of us out there that hasn't messed up dinner with a bad cut, gut, or skin job. Tell me about your worst fillet table massacre. If it's brutal enough, maybe I'll send you a copy.