From Reel to Meal: How To Clean, Filet, and Cook Your Freshly Caught Fish

Two large pike waiting for cleaning and filleting on wet wooden table

So. You’ve read our blog about catching a trophy fish, and it paid off: you caught the perfect fish! But once that adrenaline of the catch wears off, you’re left with a question: Now what?

Don’t worry— we’ve got you covered. Whether you’ve landed your first big catch on Reindeer Lake or need a quick refresh before your stay at our lodge, this guide will walk you through cleaning, filleting, and cooking your fish.

Descaling and Cleaning Your Catch

Cleaning a fish isn’t the most glamorous job, but it’s crucial for enjoying a delicious meal later. First, let’s go over what you’ll need:

  • A sharp filleting knife
  • A cleaning board (preferably with a clip to hold the fish tail)
  • A bucket or container for the discard
  • A clean water source for rinsing
  • (Optional) A sturdy pair of gloves

Then, start by removing the scales:

  • Lay the fish on the cleaning board, holding it by the tail.
  • Starting from the tail end, run your knife against the direction of the scales, scraping them off.
  • Rinse the fish frequently to remove loose scales.

After that, you’re ready to clean! For the fish you can catch right here on Reindeer Lake:

  • Northern Pike, Walleye, and Lake Trout: Cut right behind the head, then cut from the anus up to the gills, and pull out the innards. (Heads up, Northern Pike have a thick layer of slime, so rinse them off first).
  • Arctic Grayling: These are smaller, so make a small cut behind the pectoral fin and scoop out the guts—no need to make a long cut.


Time to turn that clean fish into some beautiful fillets. Your sharp fileting knife is crucial here. To Filet:

  • Trophy Northern Pike: Pike have a tricky ‘Y’ bone. Start at the back of the head, slide your knife along the backbone, cutting down to the tail. Then tackle those ‘Y’ bones.
  • Arctic Grayling, Walleye, and Trout: Slice from behind the head, along the backbone, to the tail.


And now, for the fun part: cooking your catch. Each fish has its own flavor profile and does well with certain cooking methods.

  • Trophy Northern Pike: Pike’s firm texture stands up to grilling. Brush with some oil, add your favorite seasoning, and toss it on the grill.
  • Arctic Grayling: Grayling benefit from a good pan-searing. You can even throw in some herbs and butter to baste it!
  • Walleye: Walleye are a great choice for fried fish. Just batter and fry until golden.
  • Trout: Nothing beats a smoked trout. Its rich, full flavor comes to life with a good smoking.

Ps: We have you covered with some recipes and a guide on the perfect beverage pairings for your catches

Fishing is an adventure from start to finish, and it’s made even more enjoyable when you can savour the results of your hard work. When it comes to the perfect fishing spot, look no further than Lawrence Bay Lodge! To get started, fill out our contact form or call us at 701.262.4560.