Carking 101 (pic heavy) -
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Old 07-11-2007, 09:22 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Blow me
Posts: 4,061
Default Carking 101 (pic heavy)

A few people last week asked for a carking tutorial. I'll give it my best. That being said, there are as many ways to cark a tuna as there are tuna-fisherman... well, almost. The method I like is a hybrid between what Pilar taught me 3 years ago and some magic I saw Beer Wagon pull last year. I'm sure I bastardized both... I know that Pilar has changed his ways since he decided that bellies were people food, though not the technique I show. So here is one way to get it done......

Here we start with a well chilled Keta/Baitboy style gutted Albie. NOTE: gilled, gutted and anal cut. (Bridgeport IPA not a plant..... this is how I roll/cark)

Make a superficial cut (skin deep to 1/4" deep) from the anal cut (Keta/Baitboy gutting insision cut) along either side of the small tail fins.

Flip the fish over, and make the same superficial cuts on either side of the spine. As you near the dorsal fin and adipose(?), you will meet a stubborn bone/plate. You want to walk a bit around that......

Make a tail cut on both sides of the fish. This will be evident when skinning.

Now.... lifting up the pectoral fin, there is a hard plate that extends 1" to 1-1/4" toward the tail. With a little practice you can find it easily and start your collar cut without hitting it. Place the knife behind it and cut at an extreme angle toward the nose of the fish. This will give you maximum yield from your loins.

Now, this is where you can remove the belly for either smoking or bait.... Lift the head side of the collar cut and stick a finger in and feel where the bottom loin meets the gut cavity... (note where knife edge is)

In this pic I scribed a line. It's hard to see, but there is a natural line on the scales of the fish that starts the white belly. The connection to the bottom loin is approx. 3/4 inch below this natural line. If you cut it right, you can completely remove the belly without crackering the bottom loin.....

This pic shows the cut along that scribed line, where the gut cavity hits the bottom loin, and that I clearly need to buy jeans a couple inches wider in the waist.

Flip the fish and do a similar collar cut

Cut the belly across the two collar cuts..

Cut on the opposite gut/loin line.

..and KAPOW! Look at that perfect belly! Note: No belly loin wastage....

Now grab the skin at the top of the collar cut. Get a good grip and pull back to your tail cut.

If you loose your grip, the best place to dig in is along the lateral line. I'm of the school that the best tuna loins are unrinsed and scale free. Think of this as you cark.....keep your loins dry and scale free. For me this involves compulsive rinsing of my hands and knife....

Here, my imperfect belly cark is pulling off some remaining belly meat as I skin. There are other techniques that cark ALL the belly meat this way, but I have evolved :grin:.

Here is where you need to understand the anatomy of a tuna..... Unlike a salmon that has a distinct vertical spine and fillets with some minor perpendicular pin bones, a tuna's spine is like a "T" or a "+" plus sign, thus quartering a tuna in loins. After removing the skin, you will see an obvious lateral/blood line. This is approx. ~ 3/4" wide. If you buy that.... cut on either side of the center at about 3/8" as shown below....

I like to start on the top loin. Start at the tail of the loin at the lateral line cut and twist the knife perpendicular to that cut and slice the remaining loin off the bone.

Remove top loin as shown (blood meat to be removed later)

Repeat same action on the belly loin. Practice will answer questions of the belly loin anatomy........ Belly ribs may have to be dealt with.

Belly loin action shot...

Have fun,

Last edited by Freakwater; 07-21-2007 at 11:10 PM.
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