We have access to many fishing outlets here in these beautiful mountains. Where we live is the second oldest incorporated town in Virginia, second only to Jamestown! We are residents of the Leesville Dam and Leesville Lake area, plus there is Goose Creek and other waterways and ponds to choose from. Goose Creek is where many people enter the river to float into the Staunton River, which runs by our nearest town and my high school Alma Mater, Altavista.
There is avid hunting in this area as well, full of wilderness, full of life. We have bears, coyotes, bobcats, rattlesnakes, moccasins, both water and copperheads, too many deer, even the rare black coyotes, which is just a product of genetics. I saw one that had been hit in the road one morning, it looked like a skinny bear cub with a dog's face. I was only able to glean this description going about 45 mph, on my way taking the kiddoes to school. When I came back through, it was gone, taken for its coat or picked up by VDOT, the first theory probably the most accurate.
Luckily, one of my sisters and her husband, who is an avid hunter and "angler" came through and got out to investigate and clarified my best guess, having never seen one before. But Yeah, the phrase "Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh My" for sure. This area is amazing from the nature and natural beauty standpoint. The people are pretty solid too.
Back to the lesson at hand, tips and tricks for cleaning and deboning smaller or pan sized fish, because let's be honest, we are not always going to bring home a whopper, plus these are most the flavorful in my opinion. I like to use a small pile of salt to help anchor my grip on the fish. This way, you can scale this guy more efficiently, which is the first step if the fish has scales. I line my cleaning station with cardboard if possible, any will do, empty pizza boxes are perfect for this kind of job, absorbing all the excess yuck while you work. After scaling, you are free to remove the head and entrails. The featured fish is a white perch. This my technique to butterfly your protein. Gloves are advised, particularly for the hand holding the fish while you work.
I lay the fish on its back and hold it like a book I'm about to start reading. I start at the top and carefully but firmly, make a cut through the bones along where the rib bones meet the back bone. I cut all the way down til I get to the stomach area. I then lay fish on its side and place a hand firmly on the top run my knife down along the backbone, all the way to the tail. The fish should lay flat at this point, like an open book.
You can remove the rib bones by carefully sliding your knife under the bones at the top or bottom of the ribs and working the knife upwards or downwards, pressing against the ribs. Repeat on opposite side. Scrape belly flaps to aid in extracting bones from this portion. Normally, I would use my filet knife also, the chef's knife is to cut through the bone, but it fell down behind the damn sink. Drat!
After you remove all the yuck with a few good swishes and salted soak, at least 1 hour, your fish is ready for whatever comes next! Well, gotta go, just got a mess of fish from my fisher guy/bnl Will, back to the lab I go, because, "practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect." I'll always remember that banner Mr. Temples, our beloved band director put up in the band room, he was possibly the best band director to ever live, just Phenomenal! Today's Catch of the Day, Bass! Stay tuned for fresh, new recipes featuring these 'puppies'.
|The remaining bones are easily pulled out with the fins. Extreme Caution Advised, especially for Children and Inattentive Adults!