Although many people enjoy catching trout, a few balk when it comes time to gut them for cooking. Fish are quite streamlined in their structure, and that makes them easier to clean than many other animals. The squeamish need to remember that we gut fish near a water source, be it a lake, pond, or sink, so the person cleaning the fish can rinse his hands often. Gutting a trout can be done in a few simple steps.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Sharp, short-bladed knife
- Metal spoon
- Cutting board
Use the handle of the knife or a sturdy stick to rap the trout firmly on the back of its head to stun it so it will not continue to wiggle.
Scale the fish by placing it on a cutting board. Hold the tail with one hand and scrape the scales from tail to head with the backside of the knife. Do this several times all over the body to remove as many scales as possible. Rinse the fish in clean water.
Cut the fish from gill to gill on the belly side, being careful not to slice through the spine. Grab the head with your non-dominant hand and make a slit up the belly from anus to gills, being cautious not to cut into the guts.
With the back of the trout's head in your non-dominant palm, put your thumb and first finger in the mouth. Hold the fish up and, with the other hand, reach into the body cavity and firmly pull out the intestines, heart and other organs. Place the guts into a plastic bag that you can dispose of properly. Use your thumb or a spoon to scrape the spine from the tail up to the gills, removing the air bladder and any other guts that remain. Rinse the fish in clean water and rinse off the knife, too.
Cut off the head of the trout and place it in the bag with the guts. This will save space in the fry pan or in the freezer if you choose to save your catch to eat another day.
Tips and warnings
- Some choose to cut off the head before gutting the fish, thereby killing it instantly and eliminating any possibility of it wiggling out of the fisherman's grasp. It is more difficult, however, to hold the fish to gut it if there is no head to hold onto.
- Rinse all traces of the guts out of the trout before cooking or freezing it.
- Make sure the waters where you fish are free of contaminants, and that the fish are safe to eat.