Cleaning trout. Does that bring back memories! I think I was about 9 years old when I first learned how to clean trout. It is really pretty easy. A little practice and you will soon be cleaning trout with ease. If at all possible, use clean, running water to rinse the trout as you clean.
Scaling the trout.
For this step, you will need a fish-board with a clip to hold the tail or you can hold the tail with your hand. You will also need a fish scaler or use the unsharpened side of a good sturdy knife (short blade is best). With the trout held firmly by the tail, scrape very firmly from the tail to the gills several times on both sides. This will remove the scales so you don’t have to deal with them later. No one wants to find them in a bite of grilled fish!
Gutting the trout.
To properly gut the trout without tearing into the stomach or intestines, you will need a sharp, short bladed knife. The short blade gives you better control. The first cut you want to make is just at gill level from the belly side. This results in a cut between the jawbone and the tongue. Do not cut through the spine. Next, place 1 or 2 fingers inside the trout’s mouth with the palm of your hand pressed firmly on the top of its head and your thumb in the gill to hold it solid. Then, carefully, begin to slit the trout’s belly starting at the anus and working your way up to the cut under the gills. You need to be careful not to cut into the guts themselves, as this will foul the flesh, making it inedible. Keep your knife just under the skin. To pull the guts out, hold the trout firmly with your thumb under the jaw and your index finger in the mouth. Then get a firm grip on the guts and pull them out. All that is left to do is to scrape your thumb along the spine in the gut cavity to clean out the bloodline.
To behead or not to behead.
This last step can be a matter of personal preference. Removing the head of the trout. Some people like it left on, but, personally, I don’t like my food looking back at me.
To do this, you need a good sturdy knife. The same one you used to cut the belly open will work. Just be sure to rinse it good first. To cut the head off, grasp the trout firmly in the middle with your thumb in the gut cavity and the rest of your hand wrapped around it. Hold the trout so that the head is pushed down on your cutting surface. With your knife, make a firm slicing motion through the spine at gill level, preferablywith the gut cavity up. Once this is complete, rinse the trout and you are ready to proceed with the rest of your trout cleaning.
Of course, you could use my favorite method to clean a trout. Filet it!