Preparing fish in the wild

Sea kayaking offers great fishing opportunities and access to rarely fished waters. Knowing how to quickly gut and fillet helps prepare an ocean fresh* catch for smoking, pickling or cooking straight from the water.

The simplest way to prepare sea fish is to first remove the viscera (guts), then its head and gills. Gutting fish takes less time than filleting fish but a gutted fish will in turn take longer to cook.


Hold the fish by its tail and, with a sharp knife held perpendicular to its skin, scrape from the tail towards its head pressing lightly. After removing the scales rinse the fish well. Scales get everywhere so the process should be done far from a campsite and preferably near clean running water.


Using a sharp knife make an incision running along the underside of the fish running from in line with the pectoral fins to the anal fin. Inserting a finger to the cavity, remove all entrails inside the ribcage. Rinse the cavity well. Many will agree that a fish tastes better by cutting the gills and bleeding the fish immediately after it is caught. This can be done easily from the kayak and will keep the smell of fish out of the campsite.


Filleting removes fish flesh from the bone leaving a thin slice of bone free flesh (either with its skin on or removed). A fish fillet is quicker to cook than a gutted whole fish.

First side: using a long, sharp and flexible falay knife (or a fisherman’s fillet knife) make an angled incision behind the gill plate towards the head releasing the pectoral fin and, turning the knife onto the backbone and towards the tail cutting along the backbone through the rib bones all the way down to the tail. Remove the fillet from the fish and put to one side.

Removing the belly bones: finding the top edge of the rib cage at the head of the fish, run the knife under the belly bones and remove a very thin slice including the bones.

Removing the pin bones: run your fingertip across the flesh to locate the line of pin bones. Using the pliers, remove as with a splinter along the grain of the fish.


There are many methods when cooking sea fish in the wild:

  1. Baking
  2. Steaming
  3. Poaching
  4. Grilling
  5. Frying
  6. Smoking


Octane offers gastro wilderness expeditions and, employing Octane’s Eight* methods of sourcing wild food for the pot, we eat the world’s best food, ocean fresh**.

*Octane’s Eight is our philosophy. We believe our travelling guests, being closest to the world’s wildest fresh foods, might quite like to eat the world’s wildest fresh foods.
1) we line fish, 2) we lobster pot, 3) we spear fish, 4) we sea forage, 5) we land forage, 6) we deer stalk, 7) we seed the sea, 8) we seed the land. 

**The term fresh fish is of course relative. On the high-street, at supermarkets and in city restaurants fresh fish really means days old so, when patiently waiting for your number to be called at the fish-counter, be ready to ask where your fish is from and how many days ago it was likely caught. Supermarkets invent terms to suit their needs and, as a discerning consumer, it really is your right to challenge nonsense. At Octane we have therefore made a new, differentiated and entirely transparent definition – Ocean fresh. Simply put, it means caught and eaten same-day.

See ocean fresh in practice with the post ‘Drive through calimari’ – ocean fresh calimari caught, cooked and served in under an hour

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