How to fillet a Halibut

Step 1

Notice how I am cutting, following
the bone structure along the

gill plate and other bones. A
good bare handed feel
across the surface of this region
should be obvious where
to cut. Draw a line mentally
of the bone structure, and
make the
cut all the way across. Step
3 shows the cut all
the way across.


Step 2

Following the spine of the fish,
starting from the tail cutting

deep and one cut slice from
tail to our first
cut at the head. The spine
basically follows the lateral
line, which shows it’s self really
well on the white
side as shown in step 10.




Step 3

Notice the rest of the cut
from step one. A cut along the
tail, slice down
the spine, and our first
cut across the head bone
structure and we’re on our
way to the deep fryer.





Step 4

Now start a slice at an
angle as shown and continue
slicing in single long strokes.
Continue the strokes being patient
cutting ¼” – ½” on
each pass. Even if you
miss the angle in places
don’t stop the stroke of
the blade! Finish the cut
from head to tail to provide a smooth
even cut. Fold the flesh back to expose each cut
with some pressure. Let the knife follow the rib bones. Depending on how sharp the knife is determines
the angle. You can shave with my knife so the angle is


Step 5

Now take notice on the inside
last cut. I see a
section that has the outline
of the fish’s fin. I
cut deeper than normal to
exaggerate what to look for.
It’s not bad to go to
far, but then some trimming
before skinning is required which
comes later in step 14.




Step 6

Now I start a cut along
the edge of the fish
lifting with mild pressure following
along the fin line with
the blade. If done with
a sharp knife it is
very easy as if ripping
tissue paper. I can’t stress
the importance of a really
sharp knife to make
this task easy. SAFTEY: Always cut
away from your self and
wearing a fillet glove is
a must for anyone just
learning to fillet fish or
a boat underway.

Step 7

Slice the other ½ the same
way except going from tail
to head stopping each cut
when the gut sack is






Step 8

In this picture the rib’s branch out to the fins almost
like a tree, which means the end of the cut,
shown in step #4. This next picture also gives a good
view of the gut sack and a fish full of eggs. She was spawning hard as a few very excited
males where caught in the same area.
The egg’s are considered by some
as delicacy eaten raw. Hmmmm?
So I finished the cut when
seeing the “tree” from the
rib bones and then used
the same technique to separate
the fillet from the fish
shown in step #6.


Step 9

One side with it’s finished look.
There is a piece of meat visible over the gut sack.
Kind of the same as a tuna or yellow. There’s
meat there and very bony,
with some work or a
smoker, can make some good
eating. Just takes too much
time IMO to clean and I skip cleaning that small

COOKING TIP: For the smoker, I’d
treat it like a yellow
or tuna belly and smoke
that piece whole.


Step 10

Here is a good shot of
the lateral line. The spine
runs along until it reaches
the curve. Then it follows
kind of close but straighter.
Following the line makes following
the spine with the blade
much easier. After some practice
following it with just the
feel from the blades handle
comes naturally.



Step 11

Here I am cutting using the
same methods used on the
brown side.
Notice the skin flap near the
tail. I did not cut
deep enough before slicing down
the side and the blade
followed the meat instead of
the skin. This little mistake
is not bad, really nothing
was wasted.



Step 12

This is something you can try
with some bigger fish. Tuna
and yellows and bass have
the same kind of cheek
structure that can be cut
out. The size of the
fish and extra effort is
dictated by time. Do you
have time to cut this?
It’s really good on big blue
fin. Same as any other
fish, there are 2 sides
you can cut out. The
white side has the same
chunk of delicious meat.

Step 13

I start a cut from the
tail ½” in to get
something to hold on to.
This does not work well with
a mushy un-cared for fish.
So bleeding, icing, and general care of
your catch is important.
Angle of the blade, sharpness, and
practice is key here. This
is showing a perfect half
way cut of the fillet.
I folded the fillet back
just to show you what
it’s supposed to look like,
so you can check your work
during this task.

Step 14

I sliced down the “tree” tissue and ready to skin. Some
trimming slices can rid the fillet of any bones or
gut sack remains. Now I am finishing the cut. I
wiggle the skin in my left-hand back and forth/up and
down slightly, and the blade follows very closely to the
skin. Gaff marks, scar tissue, and too much angle
on the blade may cause problems such as wasted meat and
skin patches, so go slow in those areas and check
as you go. If any problem occurs ---- stop the
cut and restart on the
opposite side, which sometimes can
save a fillet during an


Step 15

One quarter of the fish is all done. Now finish skinning
the other 3 pieces. Easy right?

My favorite halibut recipe is:
1/2 can of beer
1 cup flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon of Montreal Steak Seasoning
by Grill Mates
1/8 cup milk
mix all together with fork

Batter 1” thick strips and deep fry in very hot oil
until golden brown. Dip in California hot sauce or a
mayonnaise / hot sauce mixture. Simple and wonderfully delicious.