Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Simple Method for Cleaning Fish

Although many people dread the chore of fish cleaning, the process can be simple if the proper equipment is available. The following information discusses simple methods for cleaning most types of freshwater and saltwater fish.

Before attempting to cleaning fish, it is advisable to find a suitable work area. A clean, sturdy bench or table makes cleaning fish a simple task. Also required is a simple fish scaler, fillet knife, resealable bags or other containers, a source of clean water, and an ample supply of ice.

Before cleaning, fish should be rinsed thoroughly to remove any blood, slime, or debris. Before filleting, most fish must be scaled. Start by holding the fish firmly and working the scaler along the body from the tail to the head. After the scales have been removed, rinse the fish again if possible.

To fillet most types of fish, begin by making vertical cuts behind the head and in front of the tail. Next, cut downward along the top, as close to the top fins as possible. Continue cutting downward and back, separating the meat from the bones. When cleaning most species, it is necessary to cut around the rib cage in order to avoid getting bones in the fillet.

Once the first fillet has been cut free, the fish should be flipped over and the process repeated. If desired, the skin can be removed by laying the fillet flat, skin side down, and carefully cutting the meat away from the skin with a zig-zag motion.

After filleting the fish, some anglers inspect the body cavity and remove fish roe (eggs) if present. Depending on the species of fish, season, and other factors, the roe may be edible and is often considered a delicacy. After the fillets and roe have been removed from the body, they should be rinsed again, bagged, and chilled immediately.

If fish stock is desired, remaining racks can be prepared for cooking by removing the gills, entrails, and rinsing. To make fish stock, racks are simmered and the resulting mixture is then strained to separate any bones. 
Fish cleaning tips, food handling procedures, fish consumption advisories, cooking guides, and other information can be found on many federal or state agency websites.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Largemouth Bass vs. Smallmouth Bass

Two types of black bass are often caught by North American anglers. Among the most popular freshwater fish in North America, the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass look similar but have considerably different lifestyles.

Largemouth Bass Facts

Adult largemouth weigh up to 20 pounds and can live up to 15 years.

The native range of largemouth bass is the largest of all black bass species. It has been widely introduced beyond its historical limits and is now found in most of the USA.

Largemouth bass are most abundant in shallow, weedy lakes. They are also found in farm ponds, mill ponds, and other small bodies of water.

Largemouth also live in tidal rivers and creeks and can tolerate brackish water more than some other freshwater species.

Largemouth bass virus (LMBV) is a serious problem  in some lakes and reservoirs. Outbreaks of the disease in an impoundment often reduce bass populations significantly.

Other names for the species include large mouth, bucket mouth, green bass, black bass, river bass.

Smallmouth Bass Facts

Smallmouth bass weigh as much as 6 pounds. They have been known to live as long as 15 years, although fish over 7 years of age are considered uncommon.

Smallmouth bass are found in clear, cool lakes, rivers, and streams.  They prefer large lakes over 100 acres in size and deeper than 30 feet rather than shallow ponds.

Smallmouth bass feed primarily on crayfish and small fish. As adults grow larger, crayfish and small fish make up an even larger part of their diet.

Bass in lakes tend to be more abundant and faster growing than those living in rivers and streams.
Individuals in warmer, southern reservoirs tend to grow faster, but have shorter lifespans than fish from cooler lakes and streams.

In flowing streams, smallmouth tend to be found in deep pools and around rocks. In some streams, adults may occupy a specific pool for the entire warm season.

Smallmouth bass have been introduced into several northern lakes outside their historical range. In northern lakes, the introduction of non-native smallmouth bass has had negative impacts on native species including, brook trout, rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon, and other fish.

Members of this species are known to seek shade in warm weather and also move into deeper, cooler water during summer.