Cleaning Northern Pike

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Cleaning and Fileting Northern Pike

Northern pike are often avoided by many fisherman because when they are cleaned there is a pesky Y-bone left in the filet.  This sharp Y-bone then gets caught in the throat of the person consuming the fish.  The solution to this problem is to remove the y-bone.  The procedure below, and accompanying graphic, will make this task fairly easy for anyone that already knows how to filet a walleye or bass.

Step 1 - Lay the pike on its side.  Then cut behind the gills down to the backbone.  Turn the knife and then cut along the backbone, as close as possible, all the way to the tail.  Remove the filet with the skin intact. This is exactly the same way you would start fileting a bass or walleye.

Step 2 -  Remove the ribs.  This is done by running the filet knife under the ribs from the middle of the fish, cutting out the ribs with the knife as close to the ribs as possible.  This is also the way you would remove the rib section from a bass or walleye filet.

Step 3 - If you look closely, you will see 2 faint lines of bones.  (See red dashed lines in graphic below).  These lines are where the y-bones where connected to the spine.  Locate the line of bones at the top and cut away a strip of meat as shown in Step 3 of the graphic below.  You are removing this strip in a manner similar to removing the rib section.  Try to get as close to the y-bone as possible since you will be saving this strip and want to get as much meat as possible on it.

Step 4 - You now need to make a cut on the other side of the y-bone and cut the y-bone section away.  This is also similar to removing the rib section.  Get as close to the y-bone as possible so as to minimize wasted meat.  You will discard this y-bone section. You would get quite a mouth-full of bones if you ate this section!

Step 5 - Remove the skin from the larger piece of filet.  You do this by running the knife in between the skin and the meat, sliding the knife as you cut. I find it easiest to start at the tail end. This again is the same way you would remove the skin from a bass or walleye filet.  I like to leave the skin on until this last step since it helps hold the fillet together as you remove the y-bone section.

Cleaning Northern Pike
Watch a 2 Minute Video Showing How To Clean a Northern Pike? Click Here
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