How to Clean a Tuna
Step #1: Killing, bleeding and cleaning your catch
When you catch a tuna be sure to gaff it in the head to protect the meet. Once you have the fish in the boat you have to kill and bleed it.
Tips for killing and bleeding tuna
- First club the fish to stop it from thrashing around the boat and bruising the meat.
- Find the soft spot above the eyes by running your thumb along the tuna’s head and stab at a 45 degree angle into the brain. You will know you have hit the right spot when the fish shudders and its mouth drops open. Move your knife or spike around until the fish stops moving.
- Next is the messy part. Measure about four fingers from the base of base of the pectoral (side) fin and make a vertical cut about ¾ of an inch long and repeat on the other side. The blood should flow freely from the cuts for the next 5 – 10 minutes.
- After the bleeding has stopped it is time to gut the tuna. You will be pulling the entrails through the gill cavity so first you have to remove the gills but leave the head intact. Next cut a circle around the anal opening then pull the entrails from the gut cavity via the gill cavity.
- Immediately after you have finished place the tuna on ice you can fillet it when you get back to shore.
Remember do not drop the fish and handle it as little as possible to prevent bruising the meat.
Step #2: Skinning and Filleting
- Make a shallow cut along the gut of the fish (just enough to take a layer of skin) and the top to remove the dorsal fin.
- Next make a long diagonal cut from the top of the fish behind the head, down behind the fin to the bottom of the fish.
- Make a small cut under the fish’s skin at the top and bottom of your last cut then pull the skin back to expose the top and bottom loins.
- Next make a cut along the top side of the lateral line then run your fingers along the ribs of the fish until you get to the top of the fish, then use your knife to remove the loin. Do the same below the lateral line then repeat the last three steps for the other side of the fish.
- Trim off any dark spots and wipe them clean. Do not rinse in water.
Step #3: Clean up
- Dispose of the unwanted head, guts and skeleton. Scrub the knives, cutting board and counter with soap and hot water then wash your hands when you are finished.
Step #4: Storage
It is best to use tuna when it is fresh. Keep it cold in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
If you plan on freezing the tuna mix together ¼ cup of salt and 1 quart of water and dip the fish in. This will firm up the fish. Seal the fillets or loins in plastic wrap then a zip-top bag.
Tasty Tuna RecipesLearn More »
Tasty Tuna Recipes
Tuna is one of the most delicious fish to eat. Watch these videos that show you three tasty tuna recipes.
November Species Spotlight Roundup: CrappieLearn More »
November Species Spotlight Roundup: Crappie
Check out this list of articles that are full of great crappie fishing tips and advice.
Angler Breaks State Record for Skipjack TunaLearn More »
Angler Breaks State Record for Skipjack Tuna
An angler from Chesapeake, Va. has broken a North Carolina state record with his monster skipjack tuna. Find out what setup he used to reel-in the record fish.