Spending the day fishing on the Columbia River is one of the best things you can do in the state of Oregon. If you are lucky enough to catch a harvestable fish you should do yourself and the fish a favor and take good care of the meat so it will be good table fare. Here are some things to really watch for and make sure that you do to your days catch.
Salmon: Whether you are fishing in the spring or the summertime it’s absolutely crucial to take care of your Columbia river salmon. Most important thing which should be done as soon as possible is to bleed your salmon. This can be done by making a cut straight through the gills on both sides of your salmon. After this I like to put the fish in either a bucket or a bleed box with some water in it! This lets all of the blood leave the meat so when you begin to process your fish the meat is blood free! After bleeding your fish is complete make sure you cover your fish with ice. This will keep the meat firm and cool! Once you’re ready to process the fish make sure that when bagged place the meat skin to skin to keep slime from touching your meat!
Walleye: Columbia River walleye fishing has really become a staple in Oregon and Washington. Walleyes are by far some of the most sought after fish for eating in the Pacific Northwest fisheries. Walleye, like many other fish should be bled completely as soon as possible after catching them. Again, this is very simple, make a cut through both sides of the Walleyes gills. I often find this easier with walleye to use a sharp pair of scissors! Always put all of your walleye on ice after they are bled out completely. While fileting your walleye make sure to keep slime and blood off all your meat as best you can. Bag the skinless walleye filets and keep them cool on your journey home!
Sturgeon: Columbia River sturgeon are in my opinion the fish that require the most patience to take care of. Most of the patience being required in the filet portion! Like most other fish Sturgeon should be bled as soon as possible after catching them. By making one slice through each side of the fish’s gills this can be achieved easily. Like most other fish make sure they are packed with ice as well to keep the meat cool! When fileting Sturgeon take your time, they can be frustrating! I like to start by taking all the diamonds (sharp scoots) off of the sturgeon along with taking all of their other fins off. Follow the orange meat on top of the sturgeon back and take off each sides filet! Once you remove the meat make sure to remove the skin from the filet! Lastly make sure that you trim off all the red/orange fat that is on the meat!
Taking care of your catch is very important, especially in warmer weather. By bleeding and taking time with each fish that you filet you will have no problem preparing a fresh great tasting dinner at home!