Most anglers have encountered a Northern Pike at some point, whether they are ice or summer fishermen. Some anglers may have targeted them, while others have caught them fishing other species.
It is shocking how many people have not tried eating Northern Pike. Many anglers avoid eating these fish partly due to all the bones and the hassle of cleaning them. You may have heard fishermen refer to them as slimers or snot rockets, but despite the names given to these fish, they are delicious. Not only are they delicious, but they are a blast to catch. Pike are aggressive feeders, fight hard, and can grow to enormous sizes. In many lakes, they are abundant, and the need to harvest them in some lakes is crucial. Learning how to clean and eat this species can help sustain healthy lakes.
If you have eaten Pike, you know they are worth the work. If you have never eaten Northern Pike, you should give them a try. They are firmer textured fillet, which holds up better when cooking and has excellent flavor. Unlike other fish, Northern Pike has a “Y” bone. This bone is why many anglers don’t want to keep and eat them. However, with the right fillet knife and practice, removing this bone is not difficult. Having a sharp, flexible knife will make a world of difference. A flexible blade will allow you to bend to the contour of the fish and bones. The Smith’s Consumer Product’s RegalRiver 7” Fillet Knife and the 8” Curved Super Flex Fillet Knife are fantastic for removing the Y bones. The nonslip handle also ensures safety when filleting.
STEPS TO CLEAN A NORTHERN PIKE:
1. Fillet your Northern Pike just like you would any other fish. Start by making a cut behind the front fin. Cut down to the backbone, but not through it.
2. Turn the knife sideways and cut along the backbone to the tail.
3. Next, pull up the fillet and cut along the rib cage, separating the meat from the bones.
4. After you have completed one side, flip the fish over and do the same. Now you should have two fillets. Cut off any rib bones that are left.
5. Next, locate the Y bone. Run your fingers down the fillet; you should feel them, or sometimes you can see them. They will look like white dots along the length of the fillet.
6. The first cut will be on the top side of the Y bone. Cut straight down until you feel the bones, and then turn the knife sideways and follow the contour of the bones. You will cut until you reach the end of the bones. After that, you can remove the piece of meat or leave it as a flap.
7. The second cut will follow along the back side of the Y bone. Finally, you will cut down and forward toward the top of the fillet, following the contour of the backside of the Y bone.
8. Once you do this, you should be able to remove the Y bones from the fillet.
9. Next, remove the fillet from the skin, and you are finished cleaning and ready to fry!
PAN FRIED NORTHERN PIKE
RECIPE FROM MIKE OSTERTAG
- 1 Cup Crispy Southern Zatarains Fish Fry
- 1 Cup Cornmeal
- Milk (Used to Dip Fish In)
- Olive Oil (To Fry In)
- Fresh Northern Pike
- In a bowl, mix Zatarains and cornmeal
- In a separate bowl, add milk.
- Cut pike fillets into smaller pieces about 4-5 inches in length.
- Dip fish fillets in milk and then in the dry mix.
- In a frying pan, add enough olive oil, about 1/4 inch, to cover the bottom.
- Heat oil, and add your battered fish fillets.
- Fry until crispy.
- Put a paper towel on a plate and then put fried fillets on top to help with excess oil.
Mix up your favorite coleslaw or salad and serve your fish.
HOMEMADE TARTAR SAUCE
RECIPE FROM SARAH FOULKNER
- 1 Cup Mayonnaise
- 6 Tbsp. Sweet Pickle Relish (can add more to your desire)
- 4 Tbsp. Sour Cream
- 1 to 2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
- ½ Tsp Onion Powder
- Garlic Salt to Taste
- Mix ingredients in a bowl
- Cover the bowl
Chill in the refrigerator before serving
Smith’s Consumer Products is an Arkansas-based company that traces its history to 1886. Smith’s produces the broadest line of knife and scissors sharpeners available, ranging from simple, fixed angle pull-through sharpeners for consumers that want quick and easy sharpening to sophisticated Precision Kits designed for the knife sharpening enthusiast. Our offering includes both manual and electrical sharpeners that incorporate many different abrasive materials, including diamond, carbide, ceramic, bonded synthetic abrasives, and, of course, natural Arkansas stones. Smith’s Consumer Products designs products that are appropriate for the field or gourmet kitchen.