Now that you've removed the scales and gutted the fish, the next step is deboning. Fish bones can easily get stuck in the throat and cause choking, so most people prefer to eat boneless fish. The key piece of equipment here is the knife: Make sure it's sharp and flexible. Do not use a serrated knife because it will shred the flesh [source: Active Angler].
- Lay the fish on its side on a newspaper-covered cutting board.
- Insert a sharp knife behind the gills and cut down to the backbone.
- Rotate the knife so that it is flat against the backbone, parallel to the cutting board, with the sharp edge pointed toward the tail.
- With a sawing motion, gently cut along the backbone toward the tail, running the blade underneath the meat of the fish.
- Turn the fish over and repeat; the backbone can now be removed.
- To remove the ribs, insert the knife between the rib cage bones and the fillet and slice the meat away from the ribs.
- To remove the pin bones (the small bones found in the fillets), use fingers, tweezers, or needle-nose pliers.
Set the meat aside, wrap the remains in the newspaper and discard. Repeat the procedure with each fish.
To learn how to remove fillets from panfish, continue reading.