Anglers can either choose to keep or release their catch. Most of them prefer to release the trout. It is a good thing because the trout population will be high and the fact that you are advised to eat one trout serving every week. Trout like the rainbow trout make delicious meals, and you will enjoy some once a week or in two weeks.
You will need to know how to clean the trout if you are going to eat it. Trout cleaning steps are quite easy.
The main steps on how to clean trout ready for eating include:
- Hold the fish with its belly exposed
- Cut the trout’s belly
- Pierce the trout on the underside of the lower jaw
- Make a clean through cut on the jaw’s tissue
- Hook the trout’s jaw
- Strip the Intestines
- Remove the bloodline
- Remove the scales, head, and tail
- Rinse the trout
- Free the fillets from the backbone
- Trim the top and bottoms of the fillet
- Remove Pin Bones
- Keep the trout on ice
- Look out for parasites
- Store in the freezer or fridge
Four main stages guide the steps you take when cleaning trout. They include:
- The Initial Cuts
- Remove the Intestines
- Make Fillet from Your Trout
- Store Your Trout
This guide will cover the steps you need to take through each of these stages. Remember, most of these fishing locations have cleaning stations to clean the fish. Alternatively, you can clean the fish from home to avoid littering.
What You Need For Cleaning Trout
- A knife. Experienced anglers rely on sharp filleting knives for cleaning their fish. These knives offer little flexibility, which is needed to make precise cuts.
- A Cutting Board
- Gloves. It is an added advantage to have gloves when cleaning your fish. There will be excrement blood and other tissues that could expose you to germs.
- A Pair of Tweezers. This will help you to remove pin bones from your fillet.
- Trash Bag
- Plastic Wrap
- Wax Paper
- Portable Cooler
- Freezer or Refrigerator
- Vacuum Sealer. To help with storage in the freezer.
How To Clean Trout (Step by Step)
1. Hold the Fish With Its Belly Exposed
Look to the tail end of the fish under the lower fins, and you should spot the trout’s exit hole. Insert your knife’s tip in the exit hole, and slide it smoothly towards the trout’s head.
2. Cut the Trout’s Belly
Slide the knife from the exit hole and stop before you get to the fish’s head. Ensure you apply light pressure as you want to leave the internal organs intact for easier removal. Be careful how you handle the knife as you will be cutting in your hand’s opposite direction.
3. Pierce the Trout on the Underside of the Lower Jaw
Hold that shouts close to the back of its head and slide the blade through the lower jaw until it protrudes from the other end. As you slide the blade position it below the jaw bone and above the tongue.
Insert the knife to your side so that its blade will move away from you. The skin around the jaw is usually a little tough, so you may need to wriggle the blade back and forth through the skin.
4. Make a Clean Through Cut on the Jaw’s Tissue
Keep pushing the blade on the jaw’s tissue to make a clean through cut. It will result in a small flap right below the trout mouth. This slap is necessary as it will be your finger hold when you remove the entrails of the fish.
If you don’t have a flexible knife, you may want to make a small slice on the backbone and remove the intestines and the head.
Removing the Intestines
1. Hook the Trout’s Jaw
Hold the trouts head and turn it to point upwards with its belly facing you. Insert your thumb through the mouth of the fish and to the jaw flaps and use your forefinger to pinch the jawbone. The trout has sharp teeth in the trout’s mouth, and you should be careful as you hook the trout’s jaw.
2. Strip the Intestines
Hold the fish by the back of its head and ensure you maintain a firm grip on the fish jaw bone. Pull the jaw bone down through the sliced abdomen. The jaw and abdomen will come free with the intestines as you pull it. Be careful as you remove the intestines, and you could tear them and damage the fish. The jawbone method is easy and efficient as you will not have to dig the entrails out.
3. Remove the Bloodline
Spread the trout’s belly open to expose its backbone. You will spot a dark red line behind the spine. This bloodline brings a negative flavor to your fish. Drag your finger through this space to clean it out.
There are some places where it is firmly attached in the connective tissue, and you may have to use a toothbrush or a knife to break up the connective tissue membrane.
4. Remove the Scales, Head, and Tail
Use a spoon or a knife’s edge to scrape the scales off. Place the knife behind the gill rake and cut the trout’s head off. Cut the tail off right by the exit hole. Peel the skin off, starting from one point.
You may choose to cook with the skin on and then remove the edible parts which will be soft. Remember to remove the scales when you choose to cook the fish with the skin on.
5. Rinse the Trout
Rinse the trout with a cold water stream. Fold the trout in paper towels to absorb the water. Consider using distilled white vinegar as it offers better sanitization.
How To Fillet Trout Fast
1. Free the Fillets from the Backbone
Take the fish with its backbone facing you and place it on the cutting board. Run your knife clean along the spine to free the upper fillet. Flip the fish over and repeat the same on the other side.
Make sure your cuts are long and smooth strokes as opposed to short ones to reduce wastage of meat. Use your free hand to press the fish on the cutting board as you slice out the fillet.
2. Trim the Top and Bottoms of the Fillet
Either side of the fillet will have traces of cartilage and fat that they get from the backbone and belly of the fish. The trout’s meat is darker than the whiteness of the fat and cartilage, so it will be easy to spot them.
Cut the tissues away carefully with your knife pointed downwards. It would be best if you trimmed off the tissues and cartilages because they make the meat tough and chewy.
3. Remove Pin Bones
Use your tweezers to remove the tiny pin bones and rib bones. It is harder to remove the bones when you cook the meat first. Do not pull the bones up from the meat. Pull them out in the direction they are facing.
Store Trout To Keep It Fresh
Keep the Trout on Ice
Remember to bring an ice-filled cooler in your expedition. The cold temperatures slow decomposition in the trout. Bring a large cooler in case you have a large catch. You will need to drain it periodically if you intend to maintain the freshness of the fish.
If the fish stays too long, the ice will melt into water, and the water will soak the fish. For those fishing all day, you can decide to use a stringer to pull the trout beside the boat. Alternatively, you could transfer it to a container with fresh water before you kill it.
Look Out for Parasites
People have come across parasites in certain freshwater species. These parasites could cause harm if you ingest them. They are found both inside and outside the fish. Examples include flies and tiny worms.
Removing the skin, intestines, and washing the fish will eliminate some of the parasites. Cooking at a minimal temperature of 60 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit for at least five minutes should finish the job.
Store in the Freezer or Fridge
First, use wax or plastic paper to wrap the trout.trout is better stored in the bottom drawers of the fridge. If you choose to store it in the refrigerator, ensure you maintain a temperature of 32 degrees Celsius or 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
It would be best if you always ate your fish sooner or later despite how you choose to store it. However, if you store it in the fridge, try to eat it within two to three days. The freezer offers a more extended storage period. You can store it here for 3 to six months.
Some have successfully stored trout in the freezer for a whole year. If you choose to store trout in your fridge regularly, consider acquiring a vacuum sealer.
Tips To Consider When Cleaning Trout Ready For Eating
- Even if you used gloves, clean your hands thoroughly with hot water and antibacterial soap.
- Saltwater ice works better than freshwater ice in preserving meat as it helps to eliminate bacteria.
- Use a separate bag to seal the intestines, head, tail, and fins before tossing them in the trash. This will prevent waste from attracting flies.
- Use clear moving water to rinse the trout.
- Sharp filleting knives can cause serious injury. You are advised to exercise extra caution when you handle them.
Proper trout cleaning and storage will not only preserve the fish and your health, but it also helps to cook delicious trout. Most anglers set their catch-free and eat some every once in a while.