Fillet tips so you can look like a pro

Let’s get real here. There are some of you who flay at fish rather than fillet them. It is astounding to watch seriously filleting impaired fishermen turn beautiful salmon sides into something resembling the aftermath of being jammed through a nuclear powered juicer.

Believe me, I’m not close to being an expert, but my efforts do not result in what looks like a pile of exploded salmon dip either. 

So, once again, as a public service, the following guidelines are humbly submitted for your consideration.

First, try using a fillet knife that is sharper than a steamed clam’s reading skills. 

Once the fish has been cleaned (keep the head on), lay the fish with its back toward you and near enough that you can firmly grasp it. This will decrease the possibility of slippage during the routine resulting in the awkward removal of a cage fighter’s favorite tattoo while he’s standing next to you.

Start just behind the head and begin to cut toward the tail with the knife blade gliding along the top of the vertebral column. Cut at a slight incline to glean as much meat as possible along the back. Continue smoothly slicing through the ribs until you reach the tail end. Place the finished fillet aside and let bystanders ogle in absolute awe. 

Note: If there is side-splitting laughter or power hurling, take the rest of your fish home and deal with the mess there. You are a fundamental loser and should not be allowed near sharp objects. 

After completing the slicing on one side, flip the fish over. Begin at the tail and perform the same process by cutting from the tail toward the head. Take care to cut around the dorsal fin and then continue carving until you’ve reached the head. 

Voila, another magnificent looking fillet.

Now remove rib bones. Start by sliding the fillet knife lightly between the rib bones and the flesh. Keep the fillet knife as close to the ribs as possible to make sure that you don’t trash more meat than you could serve as an entrée. 

Once the ribs have been removed, trim the fillet to remove any fat or anything else that appalls you.

If you are really a perfectionist, you can now remove the bones that were cut through during the filleting process. Use a small pair of needle nose pliers to pull the bones out of the flesh. I prefer removing said bones during the feasting procedure.

Easy now, I know that there’s a multitude of ways to fillet a salmon. This was just one to keep you from ending up with a product resembling something an alley cat coughed up.

Now let’s take a look at this week’s fishing report.

Regulation reminders
and emergency orders

In case you are just getting back from a stoner’s tour of Colorado and don’t have a clue as to what happened last weekend or on the planet as far as that goes, here’s the update:

The Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River and Stariski Creek are closed to sport fishing through June 30.

King salmon sport fishing is prohibited (including catch-and-release) within one statute mile of shore in marine waters south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to the latitude of Bluff Point effective from 12:01 a.m., Friday, June 13 through 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 30. 

Additional regulation reminders

Snagging is not allowed in Kachemak Bay east of a line from Anchor Point to Point Pogibshi until June 24.

Sport-caught pink salmon may be used as bait in the salt water fisheries.

Salt waters: Halibut

Early-season halibut continues to steam ahead with some really bully beasts hitting the decks of charters and private boats.  

Things should get even hotter as more ’buts roll in from their winter hangouts to their summer-break party areas in shallower waters.

Halibut remain suckers for herring, but are not averse to sucking up octopus parts and pink salmon entrées packaged on a circle hook.


Trolling success for feeder and mature king salmon has eased up along the southern shore of Kachemak Bay and Bluff Point, but is still worth the effort near Flat Island.  

The kings are hitting on herring, hootchies, tube flies and spoons especially if the set-up includes enticers such as dodgers or flashers. 

Chinook fishing at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon has been a bit sporadic lately, but still good if you know what you are doing. Standing on the edge of the pond on a sunny mid-day whaling away with a Pixie Spoon the size of an amphibious assault vehicle during low tide is useless and makes you look like the consummate dork.    

Small schools of king salmon are returning to Seldovia Lagoon and fishing is reported as fair. 

Other saltwater fishing

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be a rockin’ way to pass the time with the family and teach the next generation to hunt finny things such as walleye pollock, Pacific cod and a weird variety of flatfish. If they nail something such as a salmon or Dolly Varden you’ll be a bigger hero than Iron Man. How cool would that be?


The next series of clamming tides run June 25-30.

If you plan to go chasing mollusks be aware of the possibility of being exposed to Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning. 

A man reported possible symptoms of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) after consuming clams gathered near Clam Gulch on the Kenai Peninsula Saturday — one of the few beaches the state monitors.

The man recovered, but reported the symptoms. He said he may have consumed butter clams as well as razor clams.

The Department of Environmental Conservation’s Clam Gulch monitoring results are not back from the lab yet so be cautious.

For razor clams try beaches on the west side of Cook Inlet where razor clams tend to be larger and more abundant than beaches on the east side of Cook Inlet.

Razor clams 

The Ninilchik beach from the north bank of Deep Creek to a marker located approximately 3.2 miles north of the Ninilchik River at 60º 05.66’N. latitude is closed to the taking of all clam species.  

The bag and possession limit for razor clams harvested from the remaining eastside Cook Inlet beaches, extending from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit, is reduced to the first 25 razor clams dug per day and only 25 razor clams may be in possession.  

Both of these restrictions are effective through 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 31.

All shrimp and crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay are currently closed.

Stuff to review

Regulation changes are in effect for guided anglers fishing for halibut. The bag limit for guided anglers is two fish per day, one of any size and one less than or equal to 29 inches in length.

A more extensive description of these federal regulations can be found at: You also can contact NOAA fisheries at 1-800-304-4846 or 907-586-7228 with questions about regulations pertaining to sport fishing for halibut.

 As a part of the Chinook Salmon Research Initiative, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has begun a project looking at the genetic stock composition of the marine king salmon fishery.  

There are port samplers stationed at the Homer Harbor and Deep Creek and Anchor Point tractor launches conducting quick interviews and collecting biological information, scales and genetic clips from sport caught king salmon.

If you fished for king salmon in Cook Inlet, regardless of success, these folks would like to talk to you.

More information on the Chinook Salmon Research Initiative can be found at:

Nick can be reached at if you have any tips, tales or useful information that isn’t against the law.