How to Clean a Bowfin

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Catching the mythical dogfish can require a little strength in addition to courage.
Catching the mythical dogfish can require a little strength in addition to courage. (Image: Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Bowfin require a little courage to catch. A remnant of a prehistoric era, the bowfin goes by a variety of common names including the dogfish, beaverfish, blackfish, choupic and grinnel. A predecessor to the modern day trout, the bowfin survived once the dinosaurs died out. Bowfins can be eaten, although catching them can be an experience befitting a wrestler, as they are known for headshaking, charging and and getting away. If you want to keep your bowfin, you are best served to club it in the head, stunning it and not killing it before cleaning it.

Things You'll Need

  • Butter knife
  • Fillet knife

Scale the bowfin as soon as you catch it, using a scraper or butter knife. If you want, you can skin the fish completely and avoid the scaling. They are difficult to keep alive in a bucket or on a line like a calmer fish and they often die if they are clubbed and then brought back to camp.

Cut the fish starting at the vent, about 1/2 inch or less into the fish and moving your fillet knife up toward the head, forcing the knife up through the fins and to the lower jaw.

Pull the guts of the fish out by reaching in and pulling them out at the base of the head. Pinch the spot where you feel everything connect, as you won't be able to see it. Pull as much out as you can and use your knife, if you have to, to cut the place where the connections are made.

Scrape out the liver and the swim bladder which are attached toward the center of the fish and to the backbone.

Cut off the gills of the fish as well as the head and the tail.

Fillet the fish immediately and put it on ice to keep them until you get back to your home or camp.

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