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The Most ETHICAL Way to Kill A Fish (Salmon, Steelhead, Trout) w/ Jordan Knigge

Some fish are meant to be released, while others are destined for harvest. Whichever situation you find yourself in, make sure that you are within regulation guidelines and take into account the sustainability of the species.

Addicted Fishing has always been all about conservation, as well as harvest opportunities for anglers when it is appropriate and condoned by regulations. Because of this, anglers should understand the best ways to ethically end the life of the fish they intend to harvest. 

Often, the subject of our harvest are salmon, trout and steelhead. These fish species all have a similar method of harvest and preparation. Out of respect for these fish and the food opportunities they provide, it is best to end humanely end their heartbeat in the quickest and most appropriate way possible. 

Watch the Video

In this video, Jordan of Addicted Fishing explains the method he uses to quickly euthanize the fish, which is not only reducing the stress of the fish, but it is also beneficial to the quality of the meat of the fish.  

The first step is to get the fish on the bank and find a rock or stout stick, or you can order an Addicted Bonker (link here) to be ready for it and not looking around the bank. Then you’ll hold the fish on it’s belly so that the head and brain is facing up. Then, take your heavy blunt option to “bonk” the fish on the head in front of the gill plate and behind the eye to neutralize the brain. This will end the fishes life, and you may want to try a few hits just to make sure.

The next step is to “bleed” the fish. By cutting the gills you release the blood and pump it out of the fish. Blood in the meat is not a good taste and will make it taste even more “fishy” but not in a good way. Bring the fish down to the water and push the blood out of the fish by pushing along the top of the fish, head down into the water. In the case of hens, it will also remove blood from the eggs.

Once you stop seeing big flumes of blood out of the fish into the water, you can lift it out and get it prepared for filleting. This video shows how you start from the anus, cutting upward to the bottom of the jaw, taking good care of the eggs (if it’s a hen) and removing guts and eggs. Then you remove the lateral line that pulls that last of the blood out of the fish. This leaves a fish that’s ready to fillet.

cutting open a coho salmon to gut and fillet

The video will also go into Jordan's fillet technique and show a few tricks for quickly producing quality cuts of salmon meat. 

fillet coho salmon

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1 comment

  • Good explanation on harvesting fish. Would it be better to cut the gills first?

    Mike Clark on

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