There are many amazing things that go along with becoming a liveaboard cruiser. One of them is fresh fish for dinner. But how do you catch a fish and once you have it, how do you fillet it? More specifically, the question to ask is how to fillet a Mahi Mahi? Watch this video to find out how.
How to Fillet A Mahi Mahi Video
Resources Shown or Mentioned in the Video
- Simon’s T-shirt (If you can read this you’re anchoring too close)
- Squid Lures
- Fishing pole holder (various options)
- Fishing pole holder belt
- Fish gaff
- Fish net
- A large bucket
- Spray bottle for alcohol
- Fish Filleting Knife
- Fish cutting board
- Fishing Gloves
- Other Relevant Resources – Fishing for cruisers handbook
Here’s how to fillet a Mahi Mahi (Transcripts)
Hey – Welcome to Sailing Britican. We help people to take the exciting leap from living on land to becoming full-time sailing cruisers.
Today we’ll show you an easy way to fillet a Mahi Mahi. Additionally, we’ll go through the kit we use aboard Britican to catch and fillet our fish.
The number one fish we catch on Britican is Barracuda. Second to that is Mahi Mahi.
Simon and I are not big fishes. We have a very basic set-up and yet we almost always catch something, so fishing for cruisers is not difficult.
This Mahi was caught while leaving Antigua and heading to the Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe. It looks very rigid because we threw it in the fridge after putting him to sleep. It’s a bull, or male, Mahi Mahi so it has what looks like an extended forehead.
You start off by feeling for the skull and making an incision behind the gill and up along the top of the skull and then horizontal along the forehead…
Make small incisions at first and then you’ll eventually be able to hold the knife flat and cut horizontally along the fish. When doing it this way you don’t have to worry about gutting the fish.
Mahi Mahi has ribs that are easy to cut through so you’ll be cutting down the length of the fish. It’s important to know that not all fish can be filleted this way.
Other fish have a much tougher bone structure and cutting through the ribs is not always possible.
When filleting any fish it’s imperative to have a very sharp knife. See below for information on the knife that we use.
When you get to the end do not cut all the way through.
You want to leave the skin attached as it will provide you with something to hold onto when cutting the skin off.
Holding the knife as horizontal as possible, you cut between the skin and the flesh.
You’ll have to put a bit of pressure on the knife to make it slightly round down a bit.
You then want to get underneath the rips, cut them off and discard.
If all the skin didn’t come off in one go, make an incision to get the cut started and then flip it over and carry on as you did before.
Once the meat is rib and skin free, rinse it in saltwater as this preserves the taste of the fish rather than using freshwater. You can also cut off any dark red bits known as the bloodline as they can taste fishy.
Once the first side is done, you flip over the Mahi Mahi.
Once again, start at the front of the Mahi Mahi feeling for the edge of the skull, and work backward, back behind the fin.
Turn it around and make an incision along the top horizontally to carve out a piece that will be easy to hold and get the knife into. You have to slightly bend the knife down while your cutting and use the bones as kind of a guide.
If you’re having a hard time with the knife going all the way from the top of the fish to the bottom, you can just cut along the top of the spine halfway down and then flip the fish around and come up through the bottom area.
Slicing horizontally you carry along the length of the fish.
And don’t be harsh on yourself if you don’t get all the skin off in one go. Filleting a fish is not a quick process. When there’s skin still on the meat, once again make some incisions to get the skin separated from the meat, flip it over and carry on as you have been doing before.
And while you’re watching Simon fillet this second side, let me tell you that Aside from catching Baracuda and Mahi Mahi we also catch Red Snapper, Cero Mackrel, Wahoo, Yellow Fin, and Black Fin Tuna.
Let me tell you about the basic kit that we use to catch our fish. We have two fishing poles that are very similar. The reels are fairly inexpensive – we probably paid around $300 for them.
For the past five years, we’ve had the best luck with squid lures.
We are not die-hard fisher people. Simon and I put the reels and rods in our rod holders. We then make sure to have a line tied from the rod to the pole to ensure that we don’t ever lose the pole. Once the poles are secure, we let out the line for a while and then leave it. Eventually, a fish strikes and we reel it in.
There’s no patience necessary – we often forget we have lines out.
Once a line gets a strike, however, we hear the reel-spinning so we jump up and pull in dinner. As soon as there’s a fish on we immediately slow the boat down and even stop it. This helps us to reel the fish in quicker.
In addition to having a rod holder, a rod/reel and lurer we also have the following ready:
– A pole holder or a pillow for placement on your stomach
– A gaff and/or net
– A large bucket to put the head of the fish into so to kill it.
– A spray bottle of Vodka or other alcohol. We alcohol into the gills it kills the fish instantly
– A super sharp filleting knife
– A large cutting board
– A glove to grab the line with your hands to help hoist the fish up (if not using a gaff or net)
How to Fillet Mahi Mahi Tips
Before I say goodbye, here are a few tips that we’ve learned along the way.
1. Check the level of seaweed before you put your line out.
This past year we’ve had quite a bit of trouble due to too much seaweed. That being said, big fish – especially mahi mahi hang out under the seaweed. The trick is to drag your line near the seaweed and not through it.
2. Wet the aft deck, or wherever you’re pulling the fish onto, with saltwater.
If it’s wet, to begin with, it’s easier to wash off any blood and scales.
3. Designate one cutting board for fish filleting only.
No matter how hard you work at washing it, it will still smell like fish. We keep ours outside as it would stink up our galley. Furthermore, get a board that has a hole in it so you can tie a rope to it long enough to throw it overboard and pull it back out again. This is helpful when cleaning the board. You can also use the line to keep it tied to space at the back of the boat.
4. Stash aside until you’re done sailing.
If your fridge is large enough or if you have a cooler with ice, place the whole fish in a bag (we use Frabreeze bags as they smell nice preventing the fish to smell up the fridge). It’s much easier to fillet a fish when the boat is stationary.
Thanks so much for watching. If you enjoyed our practical, easy-to-follow instruction and tips for long-term cruisers, please share this page through social media.
Also…Check Out These Other Resources
- Check out all our checklist articles and videos here: Checklists
- Get 50+ Checklist Suggestions here: Suggested Checklists For Sailors
- Also, check out our shop for a variety of guides that include checklists here: Britican Shop