Question about when to kill the fish


Well Known Member
Question for the fishermen or fisherwomen! I got a pressure canner (not cooker) for Christmas and was looking at how to can fish. Saw several great videos, one from a woman from Alaska who cans a lot of Salmon and Tuna. She said to immediately kill the fish, then cut the gills and bleed it out in the water. When we go fishing in Lobos, they have the fish flopping around for a few hours, then kill and gut it when we get to shore. Not sure if they cut the gills and bleed it (usually Yellowtail). What is the preferred timing of killing the fish? Is it better to let it stay alive until we get to shore?


Well Known Member
I'm not wild about eating yellowtail, but when they're caught we always cut the gills and bleed them as soon as they're off the hook. My experienced friends believe it should be done immediately. Putting the fish in a big ice chest before slicing the gills helps minimize the blood sloshing around in the boat.

When it's time to cut and wrap the fish they remove as much of the red meat as possible. I'm never involved with that part since one or two of the guys are fussy about how it's done, but I keep meaning to take down some Havalon or Outdoor Edge knives - the kind with replaceable blades that are razor sharp - because they're great for precision slicing. I've cut up deer and elk with them and will no longer use anything else. I would imagine they'd be ideal for cutting neatly around the streaks of red on a yellowtail.


Active Member
Audsley is right, kill them and bleed them right away while the heart is still pumping, then put them on ice as soon as possible. Most fish are only going to be alive for a few minutes once you get them out of the water anyways. The flopping after that is just muscle twitches. I had a trigger almost bite the tip of my finger off AFTER I had already taken a filet off one side and was halfway into the other side. That was about an hour after being caught and it was long dead at that point.

Mexico Joe

Cholla Bay 4 Life
Look up Ikejime.

It's the only way I do it now. Bleeding fish used to be a RED FLESH fish thing but I think regardless IMMEDIATELY stab brain, cut tail and rip gills and get the guts out of there. You slice the gills and let the heart pump the blood out. Sometimes it squirts out on the rhythm of the heart beat! LOL