Northern pike can be delicious when caught fresh and prepared in a traditional shore lunch as the Wollaston guides do. The trick is knowing how to properly fillet them for frying.
Pike are very bony, so filleting them is critical. Clean them as you would any fish with an incision straight up the underbelly. Remove the entrails, then, starting at the tail, work your fillet knife long the backbone toward the head.
The guide has removed one beautiful fillet here and is just getting ready to go to work on the opposite side of the fish. As always, when working with knives, cut away from yourself and make sure others are a safe distance away.
The guide is trimming away fat and removing fins in preparation for removing the skin from his fillets. This step is crucial for having those perfect fillets!
Again, starting at one end and working his way down, the guide has worked his blade between the tough outer skin and the beautiful white fillet meat. Once you can hold both the fillet and the separated skin, you simply start pulling.
Here you see the entire skin, which has been pulled right off the meat. It’s a bit of a tug-of-war, but once you’ve done it a few times, this is actually an easy process that only takes a few minutes to do with a sharp fillet knife.
Next up, the guides prepare the breading, the fire and pan ready. Corn meal is all you need. Just drop your fillets into a baggie full of meal and shake. Remove the breaded fillets and drop them into boiling oil.
You really need a seriously hot fire to quickly cook fillets to a golden brown. Peanut oil or Crisco (don’t worry about the saturated fats, you’re on vacation) stand up well to hot fires without smoking or burning your fillets.
Once fillets have browned, a mesh ladle is all you need to remove them from the pan. Drop them onto paper towels to remove the excess oil, add a splash of fresh lemon juice or hot sauce and dive in. You’ll not taste anything better.