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One of the main benefits of fishing – after the experience of fishing itself – is being able to cook up all of your fresh caught fish when you get home. But ensuring your fish taste their best requires the correct cleaning and preparation methods.

While there are some specifics depending on the variety of fish, this general approach works well for most of the fish you will catch around NYC.

Cleaning and Preparing Your Fish

After you hook a fish, there are a few different options to keep the fish fresh until you can clean it. Many anglers will keep their fish alive in a livewell or on stringers until they finish fishing, but it is also extremely effective to put the fish directly into a cooler filled with ice after you take it off the line. This prevents the fish from starting to go bad while you finish fishing and helps keep it as fresh as possible. Chilling the fish on ice also makes it easier to clean and reduces the mess of blood and guts.

There are two ways you can clean your fish for eating. The first is to dress it whole with the head either on or off depending on your preference. A whole fish looks impressive and will be extremely moist after cooking.

For this method, you will start by scaling the fish then cutting off the head if desired. If you are leaving the head, still cut out the gills. The next step is to remove the guts from the fish. Insert the knife in the anus and slice forward. Pull out all the entrails and thoroughly wash the inside of the fish.

You can also fillet your fish, a process which will involve a series of cuts. You can leave the skin on or remove it for this method, but will need to scale the fish if you leave the skin on. To cut your fish:

  • With a knife at an angle from the pectoral fins to the fish’s head, cut from behind the gill to the backbone.
  • Turn the knife 90 degrees and cut lengthwise along the body against the backbone.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Cut out the rib bones by running the knife at an angle just beneath the bones.

Now that your fish is ready, you can prepare it as desired. Pan frying is a great option for many of the saltwater fish around NYC. Other options include grilling, broiling, blackening, or using this fish in a recipe such as fish chowder.

If you are ready to catch fish for your next meal, schedule an upcoming fishing trip aboard the Marilyn Jean to experience some of the area’s best local catches. Book your trip on our online calendar.

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