By Montana Grant

Posted: January 11, 2020

Fish filets are wonderful. Small boned fish are tasty but better with no bones. Proper fileting is a learned skill that takes a lot of practice and some good equipment.

My Uncle Jim was an expert in finding a single bone and a barrel of filets. He always had a slice of bread handy to chew on if he was gagging on that one bone that was missed. My Grandmother, Mamoo, was an excellent filleter. She cleaned every fish we gave her, no matter how small. My cousins and I filled buckets with bass, blue gills, and catfish, along the Potomac River. When we had enough filets, my Grandmother would prepare a huge fish fry dinner. Uncle Jim would always find a bone.

Fileting means a sharp and flexible knife. Most of us have a favorite Rapala blade or a variation. Keeping them sharp is an art. The flexibility allows you to navigate even the smallest bones. Use the point of the blade to drag along the filet to discover any missed bones.

The latest accessory that really helps make proper filets is called the “Fillet Maker”. My friend Captain Tom sent it to me for a Christmas gift. The elevated deck quickly drains the slime and goop away from the cleaning surface. It also has an area to stack filets until they can be trimmed and skinned. None of the slop leaves the unit to flow all over the kitchen counter or surface. This means less cleanup, more consistent filets, and a speedier fish cleaning session.

My house does not have a utility sink, so all fish cleaning happens at the kitchen sink. With the Fillet Maker, I make less mess. When the slop is directed away from the cleaning surface, I can grab and deal with filets more efficiently. This Filet Maker is also durable, FDA approved, portable, and practical. I was able to clean my limit of trout, from an ice fishing trip, almost without any mess. The filets were easily skinned, and I was able to rib the fish on the grooved surface easily. Because there is an edge on the elevated deck, I was able to hold the skin end in place as I pulled the knife through the filet. The Fillet Maker is a one piece molded unit with no areas to leak or hide debris.

If Mamoo had this filet cleaning deck, I bet she could have gotten every bone. Uncle Jim would have been happier.

Montana Grant

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