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How to kill a fish

 
pioneer
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kk...so i admit it...i know nothing about cleaning fish...i had brothers and a dad at my home...and all ever really wanted to know was how to catch them so i could go along on their fishing trips, and when we got home, cleaning the fish was not something my brothers minded...so, i went in and played with my barbie dolls at that point :)

now, this has come back to bite me on the butt and im gonna have to learn to do it!  cowboy thinks that if you eat it...you clean it...LOL...yeah right! :)  

so...now...i am not going to clean a fish that is not dead...i can not stress that enough...im as country as i can be...but, that im not gonna do...period...so, nothing to discuss there :)

what i want to know, is how to kill a fish before i clean it...preferably as soon as it is caught and i have decided it is a keeper...

i have watched some you tube videos that were recommended to me...

one a guy slit the underside of the throat...gill to gill...and the fish lived still for a while...and blood spurted out every where...don't want to do that
one a guy stuck a ice pick, or something like it, into the fishes eye and twirled it around...something about killing the brain...now...the fish seemed to stop moving instantly...but...sticking a ice pick in an eyeball??? then swirling it around!!! OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!

i can cook a fish no problem...and i can clean it...once it is dead...just have a problem with the passage from life to death...even with vegetation....probably watched bambi too many times as a kid...it is a real thorn in my side, however

now...i have no choice but to pull this off...cowboy says it is time to grow up now that i am 50 LOL...and i am getting enough shit around here to last me a lifetime...cause i was STUPID enough to mention it a time or two...

we are gonna be fishin on our long haul...so...coming up soon enough, and i am in the process of nailing down all weaknesses that i know im gonna have to come to terms with...

now the picture i have attached is marty (my marine cowboy's) way of making this easier for me...LOL and i don't know if he is serious or not!!! he could be messing with me...LOL...any way...love the oversize mallet...he is just so cool!!! LOL

HELP :) this almost sounds comical...but, rest assured, it is not, i gotta figure this thing out...seriously... :)
 
pollinator
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I think a lot of people bleed out a fish -- they can't make any puppy dog eyes so that must be easier

A knife or axe to chop the head must be very expedient, but be very careful with your fingers around such a slippery target..
 
steward
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The easiest and most humane (and least gross) method I know of is to whack them on the forehead with a stick.  They instantly stiffen up and die.  For bigger fish people use small clubs but for fish under 15 lbs, you can do it with a 1" diameter stick off the ground (sturdy, not rotten).  Just hold the fish upright and whack it firmly a little ways behind the eyes (maybe an inch towards the tail from its eyes).  Here's the only video I could find but there are probably others that show it much better.  This just shows how un-gross it is:
 
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I understand your plight.  As far as humane,  it is said pithing is the most humane way, but that involves an ice pick, which you've already stated that you're not fond of.
It need not be in the eye, but behind the eye, and does not require twirling around.  That is enough to kill the brain. Then cut the head and tail off to bleed it out.

Humane is an interesting word in and of itself.   It means something different to everyone. Ultimately,  I guess to us it means quick and clean, but the animal kingdom is not aware of this thought construct, they just do it as needed (Except cats...they seem to like torture a little,  lol)

It seems that we are the only ones that know suffering- a human belief. Those dreaded egos, and we have made the mistake of projecting our suffering on other species who do just fine between themselves.
 
teri morgan
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Eric Thompson wrote:I think a lot of people bleed out a fish -- they can't make any puppy dog eyes so that must be easier

A knife or axe to chop the head must be very expedient, but be very careful with your fingers around such a slippery target..



i am thinking we are going to be fishing primarily for sunfish or trout...the head needs to stay on for scaling and gutting process...right?
 
teri morgan
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Ed Belote wrote:I understand your plight.  As far as humane,  it is said pithing is the most humane way, but that involves an ice pick, which you've already stated that you're not fond of.
It need not be in the eye, but behind the eye, and does not require twirling around.  That is enough to kill the brain. Then cut the head and tail off to bleed it out.

Humane is an interesting word in and of itself.   It means something different to everyone. Ultimately,  I guess to us it means quick and clean, but the animal kingdom is not aware of this thought construct, they just do it as needed (Except cats...they seem to like torture a little,  lol)

It seems that we are the only ones that know suffering- a human belief. Those dreaded egos, and we have made the mistake of projecting our suffering on other species who do just fine between themselves.


to be honest with you...i am not one ounce interested in 'humane' as selfish and mean as that might seem...it is not about humane to me...it is about scaling a fish alive...gutting it alive..look...i have a hard time getting shots too...don't mean i cant find a way to do it...just means it's not that easy...and i would like to wade into this instead of jumping right in...

im gonna go fishin...and im gonna catch a fish...thank the good Lord for it...and i am gonna kill it...then i am gonna gut it...then i am going to put it on the campfire with a stick in it...and im then gonna eat it...and chase it down with my flask full of wine from home...that is how this is gonna be...just need to know how to kill it...i think i could do the hitting it on the head with a piece of wood...i didn't see that video...a sunfish might be a little harder to keep a hold of...but...the for the trout, i think it might work...i could always hit it more than once, if it doesn't work the first time, right?  
 
teri morgan
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Ed Belote wrote:I understand your plight.  As far as humane,  it is said pithing is the most humane way, but that involves an ice pick, which you've already stated that you're not fond of.
It need not be in the eye, but behind the eye, and does not require twirling around.  That is enough to kill the brain. Then cut the head and tail off to bleed it out.

Humane is an interesting word in and of itself.   It means something different to everyone. Ultimately,  I guess to us it means quick and clean, but the animal kingdom is not aware of this thought construct, they just do it as needed (Except cats...they seem to like torture a little,  lol)

It seems that we are the only ones that know suffering- a human belief. Those dreaded egos, and we have made the mistake of projecting our suffering on other species who do just fine between themselves.




LOL...OH ED...

LOL...i don't think i could do that!!!

naw....i pretty much think that it is not going to happen that way for me...at least not at first...maybe later...it may be the better way...but...i dunno...for me...this is about my sanity and not loosing face...not about death...i know it is ugly no matter how you do it...

not one bit worried about that...just know where my limits are...and trying to find a better way to hit my target...wish i could just shoot em in the head with a gun and have it over and done with...
 
Ed Belote
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teri morgan wrote:
im gonna go fishin...and im gonna catch a fish...thank the good Lord for it...and i am gonna kill it...then i am gonna gut it...then i am going to put it on the campfire with a stick in it...and im then gonna eat it...and chase it down with my flask full of wine from home...that is how this is gonna be...just need to know how to kill it...i think i could do the hitting it on the head with a piece of wood...i didn't see that video...a sunfish might be a little harder to keep a hold of...but...the for the trout, i think it might work...i could always hit it more than once, if it doesn't work the first time, right?  



Sounds a perfect plan.

A cloth glove or towel helps with slippery fish.  I don't bother with scaling because I don't usually eat the skin, so I filet it off...and the scales go with it, of course.   After removing the filet from the carcass, turn it scale side down and starting at the tail end, run your very sharp filet knife right up the entire filet where the skin meets the flesh.  Hold the piece of skin down on the table as you do this.  Angle is everything.  It will take some practice, but much better than finding scales in unimaginable places for the next three weeks.
 
Ed Belote
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Once with a mallet is enough.  It may still wiggle, but these are reflexes that can happen for a bit.
 
teri morgan
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Ed Belote wrote:

Sounds a perfect plan.

A cloth glove or towel helps with slippery fish.  I don't bother with scaling because I don't usually eat the skin, so I filet it off...and the scales go with it, of course.   After removing the filet from the carcass, turn it scale side down and starting at the tail end, run your very sharp filet knife right up the entire filet where the skin meets the flesh.  Hold the piece of skin down on the table as you do this.  Angle is everything.  It will take some practice, but much better than finding scales in unimaginable places for the next three weeks.



kk...so, under this scenario...i would just cook em up in the iron skillet we will be taking with us..that would solve the problem i didn't have..which is scaling the fish...lol...but, i think it is a better way...than having scales all over the place...something i hadn't thought of...

and back to the mallet...before marty and his smart a** self presented me with the big mallet club he made for me to kill a fish...he made me a smaller one...he and the neighbor boys around here have nothing better to do than torment me...you think that would be better than a stick like in the video...maybe just lay the fish on a rock or something and smash his head??? and that would do it???

i added a cloth glove to my saddle bag list...fillet knife is already on there
 
teri morgan
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Ed Belote wrote:
Humane is an interesting word in and of itself.   It means something different to everyone. Ultimately,  I guess to us it means quick and clean, but the animal kingdom is not aware of this thought construct, they just do it as needed (Except cats...they seem to like torture a little,  lol)

It seems that we are the only ones that know suffering- a human belief. Those dreaded egos, and we have made the mistake of projecting our suffering on other species who do just fine between themselves.



btw ed...i believe you are soooo right on all accounts!
 
pollinator
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We catch quite a few salmon here. They range in size from 6-35 pounds and larger depending on species. Best way I've found is to take a leatherman tool or pair of pliers and grab one set of the gills and rip them.  Bleeds the fish out quite fast.  The other method I've seen and used on occasion is a small fish club (think baseball bat only fish sized) and bonk them on the head.  I've caught a couple of halibut that were big enough that they were shot with a 22lr to kill.  If you are catching smaller fish such as sunfish and trout, it has been my experience that they don't live very long after being caught unless kept in a livewell of a boat.  When trout fishing for catch and keep, I put them on a stringer over the side of the canoe and by the time I'm done fishing they are usually dead anyway.
 
Mike Jay
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I think your mallet would be perfect, IF you removed the head and just used the handle.  The "whack them on the head" method works for panfish just fine.  But they're harder to stand up so you can whack them evenly across the forehead.
 
Ed Belote
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teri morgan wrote:

Ed Belote wrote:
kk...so, under this scenario...i would just cook em up in the iron skillet we will be taking with us..that would solve the problem i didn't have..which is scaling the fish...lol...but, i think it is a better way...than having scales all over the place...something i hadn't thought of...

and back to the mallet...before marty and his smart a** self presented me with the big mallet club he made for me to kill a fish...he made me a smaller one...he and the neighbor boys around here have nothing better to do than torment me...you think that would be better than a stick like in the video...maybe just lay the fish on a rock or something and smash his head??? and that would do it???

i added a cloth glove to my saddle bag list...fillet knife is already on there



I agree, that mallet will be fine.

 
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Ed Belote wrote:
It seems that we are the only ones that know suffering- a human belief. Those dreaded egos, and we have made the mistake of projecting our suffering on other species who do just fine between themselves.



If you don't think animals suffer, I don't think you've ever seen a sick or injured animal.

I don't believe the mallet will work as well as a stick.  The mallet spreads the force over a larger area, so you have to hit it harder to have the same effect.  I think you will find the method with the stick much easier.  A hardwood stick with a little weight to it makes it almost effortless.  

Personally, I have no issues with hunting or fishing, or eating meat, but I do think we owe it to the creatures we are killing to do it as quickly and painlessly as possible.
 
Walt Chase
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Something else I just thought of.  I've eaten trout my entire life, over 50 years now.  Never once have I scaled them.  The scales are so small that you will never notice them even if you eat the skin. We don't scale salmon either.  Leave the skin on the fillet and discard after they have been cooked.  On panfish I would scale them, or fillet off the skin.  Their scales are much larger and harder.
 
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Enjoy your fishing trip, Teri!
 
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Hi Teri,

I agree with Trace. I always just used the handle of the knife I was using to give a sharp whack or two to the head of the fish while holding it on the board or rock I was going to clean it on. Quick and done. A stick would work as well, but you can just use the knife and then start right in on cleaning it.

Of course, you can always watch how your husband does it and do the same. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone clean a fish while still alive, but maybe some do. Humane or not, I don’t want something flopping around while I am trying to cut it open with a sharp knife.

Good luck!
 
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Been catching trout my whole life, just find the closest rock, hold the fish by the tail and swing it towards the rock, and bop it on the top of the head.
 
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My preference for killing fish depends on the chances of it managing to hurt me, or get away before it's completely dead.  

Smaller fish that aren't very toothy or spiny (trout, bass, panfish, etc) get their gills severed generally without stunning.  Larger and/or toothy/spiny fish that can twist out of a handhold or toothy fish that can wind up ripping their own jaw off when held by a lip gripper get a "wood shampoo" (a whack with wood club just behind the eyes) to settle the argument (most saltwater fish).  Then I cut their gills.  If you stun the fish, try to hit it hard enough to render unconscious but not so hard as to kill it outright, and then immediately bleed it.  You want the heart to keep pumping as long as there's blood to pump.

You can also cut the artery that feeds the gills.  For that you just cut through the skin immediately below the gill plate.  Some say that bleeds them better than severing the gills, but I've not seen much difference either way.

Regardless, you'll need a sharp knife and/or shears to make the cuts.  

I generally fish from a kayak, and I have a game clip I'll put the fish on usually just before bleeding so I can toss them in the water to bleed out.  That does a couple things.  One, it keeps the bloody mess out of the boat.  Two, the water helps prevent any clotting of the blood from slowing the bleeding process.  Three, it keeps the fish from heating up from warm air/sunshine.

Once you've bled out the fish get it on ice ASAP.  Leaving it to sit out in the sun and get hot will ruin it faster than almost anything else you can do.
 
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We put them on  ice as soon as they are caught. Once in a while 1 might be alive at cleaning time.  It would be the last fish caught before we headed in.

I used to put fish on a stringer and put back in water. Fishing the shore in freshwater brought snakes trying to eat them. Shore at the coast and the same happens with blue crabs.


 
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This is a good topic. I strongly disagree with cleaning or scaling a live fish. I also stopped eating shellfish, crabs, lobsters and crawfish for a similar reason, although I acknowledge that sportsmen who harvest crabs in particular are among thee most food-orientated sportsmen.

However - I am not on board that death always happens instantly and/or without blood. As a hunter since 1974, I can tell when an animal is seconds away from death and/or unable to feel pain. I can deal with that.I also know that animals are tough - an incapacitated, but alert animal that appears to not be in pain, probably is not. But I don't relish using my hands or a knife for the "coupe de grace"... Nevertheless, sometimes we must do that. You never really become totally "desensitized" to manually killing an animal, however, after killing thousands of animals, I can tell when the animal is about to expire and if it is feeling anything. When you reach that point, dispatching animals is less unsettling.
 
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