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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a question for the Sturgeon fishermen, whats the best way to butcher these fish? I don't fish for them often just a few times a year. But after filleting 3 this weekend, I wonder is there an easy way? -Steve
 

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Take them to Sturgeon Pauls there in Warrenton. It is well worth the $5.50. Plus you can watch to get an idea how to filet them..........chris
 

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Chris is right. But basically you can just slab the sides off then cut off the skin. That is the short and sweet version, but watching somebody who does it is best.
 

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I cut mine from the top along the center cartilage a few inches deep, all the way down both sides of the fish. Then just fillet down as usual. Flip em and fillet of the skin. Takes some practice but after a few it gets easy.

Good Luck!

AL
 

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Here is a vote for Sturgeon Pauls in Warrenton. You can watch them and then you will have a clue. Sounds easy until you try it and you dont want to waste meat. You can study up at Sturgeon Pauls then give it a whack. Pretty cheap at $5.50 per fish :grin:
 

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Another vote for Sturgeon Pauls. The first one I tried to do myself and butchered it. The guys at Sturgeon Pauls use two different types of knives to effectively and efficiently filet these fish. If your gonna do it yourself invest in a good knife. I priced the ones they use and they are about 80 bucks a piece. Sure these guys deal with high volume but after pulling anchor all day and with boat clean up etc., I'm not interested in fileting a 40 lb sturgeon with my 15 dollar knife.
 

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I've got a neat trick, once you've filleted them off the carcass you will want to skin them. That lateral line of diamond plate can be a pain because it makes fro an uneven flat surface. I have 1/2" gaps in my deck, so I set that line of ridged bumps in that, thus making the fillet lay flat. So much easier to cut the skin off then. I'm sure you can make such a set-up also.
 

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Throw a rope over a beam in your garage. Make a loop then hang the sturgeon by the tail, head pointing towards the floor. Pull a garbage can under the head and make sure the middle of the fish is about face level with you.

I like using two knives. Take a heavier knife and skin the scutes off the sides and fins off the top. After removing the fins from the top you will see the a yellow streak with white meat on each side. Put your smaller flexible knife in the yellow stuff and find the spine. Start your fillet job keeping as close as you can to the bone. You should see the fish jump a little because the knife his hitting the nerves close to the spine.

I start at the middle and work my way down. Once your hit close to the gills, with one hand grab your fillet and with the other, run your knife the rest of the way up to the tail. Repeat process on the other side. Cut the rope at the loop and let the carcass fall into the can. This way you don't have to open the stomach and take all the yuck out.

Lay your fillet on a long cutting board and make a slice by the tail piece. Run your small flexible knife along the skin, this will peel the meat right off. Don't worry if you can't get super close to the skin. I cut the red fat off anyway. You may want to section the fillet off a couple of times until you get good at it. This will prevent meat loss.

Good luck, practice makes perfect. I am a big fan of Sturgeon Paul. I have been going to him for years now. He knows my family by name and even washes my boat for me free of charge. I give him all the business I can but let's face it, Astoria is only a couple of month deal. The rest of the time you are upriver and have to do it yourself.
 

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If you are on the Washington side of the river, Sportsmans Cannery in Ilwaco does them and so does the bait place right at the port of Chinook. I do them myself when I fish above Astoria, but it takes about an hour for 3 fish and my fillets never turn out as pretty as the ones you pay for. I've watched the guys at the cannerys do hundreds of them and I still can't do it as good as they do - and I've got the same knives! Another vote for paying someone to do it.
 

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hey,you guys aren't cutting through the spinal cord when filleting are you?i notice nobody mentioning that part!yuck if you get that fluid on your meat.before i learned to do it i tainted meat.first i sawed the head off,then i take a sharp knife and carefully cut around the tail till you get to the cartilage.than snap the cartilage and slowly and carefully pull the cord out by the tail.it is about 10 feet long when it comes out.my kids got a kick out of that thing. :shocked: pretty gross but i think it needs to be done.make sure when you cut the head off that that end is exposed so it comes free when you pull on the tail.i always gutted my fish first.lots of nasty stuff in the cavity.then like somebody mentioned,cut off all scutes.cut down the middle.clean the cartilage off.then skin and cut all discolored fat and your done. ;)NS
 

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I have also been told to pay someone,
something about grey or the darker meat
can or will make you violently ill. To this I have only heard. I decided not to find out that is why I'm willing to pay someone that knows
what they are doing.
 

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sled 19,bring the beast over to my house and i will show you the way free of charge.this is my opinion ONLY,but i will only eat the ocean sturgeon caught by Astoria.tried some fried willamete fish and it about made me barf!i was able to salvage the fish by smoking it but it wasn't as good as those fresh estuary fish.the first one i ever caught was a legal one and had Tony's smoke it.what a waste.it was nasty.learned to smoke myself.NS
 

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Night stocker, I have cut into the spine many times and have never seen a fluid or tainted any meat. It seems like the thing is fairly solid (rubbery). The kids love to jump-rope with it! I've heard many times that cutting the spine will ruin meat but haven't seen it yet? :shrug:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks everyone! I was cutting of the head, cutting off the fillets and then slicing off the skin, came out good with not much waste but takes me forever! I will see Stureon Paul next trip. Anyone know what days they are open, address and what time they close? -Steve
 

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If you do them yourself or have someone else do them remember to bleed the fish real good first. Nothing will ruin good sturgeon meat faster than getting all blood soaked into the meat while fileting them.
 

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Am I the only one that hangs the fish, cuts the scutes of and then uses catfish skinning pliers to skin it before filleting? It seems easier for me to remove the red meat if it's thicker, and pulling the skin off leaves all the red meat.

Smj
 

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Cut around the back of the head just enough to penetrate the thick skin. Do the same thing with the top and bottom edges of the scute rows. Take a pair of needle nosed pliers tio each section and grab the skin and yank hard and quick. Skin comes right off. After you have removed each segment of skin, filet the meat away from the spine and the stomach sack. Lay the filets flat on a cutting board and trim off the red and grey fat.

It takes me less than 15 minutes to do a fish and my filets look as good as the pro's.

If your gonna do it yourself invest in a good knife. I priced the ones they use and they are about 80 bucks a piece. Sure these guys deal with high volume but after pulling anchor all day and with boat clean up etc., I'm not interested in fileting a 40 lb sturgeon with my 15 dollar knife.
<font size="2" face="verdana,arial,helvetica">Hint: I use a sharp serated skinning knife to cut the skin and a filet knife that I got at GI Joes on sale for $2.95. Keeping it razor sharp is the trick. Don't waste 80 bucks on a knife if you are not using it as much as thge commercial guys. Buy a fairly inexpensive one and learn how to sharpen it or find one like mine that has the ceramic sharpener built right into the sheath.

[ 06-11-2003, 08:53 AM: Message edited by: Tanner ]
 

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[ 06-11-2003, 08:50 AM: Message edited by: Tanner ]
 
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