The gar is a favorite species of bowfishermen all
over, and with good cause. Gar are a slim target that
will challenge a bowfisherman, and when they are
rolling on the surface can be outright frustrating.
And they are also one of the best tasting fish we
harvest. But cleaning them can be hard.....unless you
know, "How To"....
First, proper tools are needed. A fillet knife just
wont work on the hard shell like scales of a gar. Gar
are truely a prehistoric fish that have no bones, but
do have extremely heavy scales.
A heavy , short bladed knife works best, and a pair
of snips are also needed. The snips pictured here can
be found at the Home Depot and are made by Fiscars.
Where some people use the heavy bladed sheet metal
snips, I have found these snips with their slim blade
works much better. After you have the tools you are
ready to go. A word about safety first. Gar teeth and
scales are extremely sharp and can cut you badly. Be
sure to wear a glove when handling them. Also, some
gars eggs are highly toxic, so be sure to keep them
off the meat.
Now, get a good table to work on and hose down the
fish to remove all the slime.
Now, cut the gar thru in two spots, behind the head
and in front of the rear fin from top to bottom as
seen in this picture.....
Then snip the scales from the rear cut to the front
along the back bone ......
Next, cut the scales/skin down the sides of the fish
from the top cut as seen here. I like to make a cut
every 4 inches as the skin is very stiff, and smaller
sections will fold down easier......
After cutting down, using the knife cut between the
scales and the meat top to bottom and fold the scales
The hard parts done! Now, remove the fillets by
cutting down from the backbone and angling the knife
outward toward the bottom of the fillet. This gives
you the meaty back straps, and also gives you alot
more side section meat.
As you see you now have completely boneless gar
fillets. A couple more things before you eat or freeze
the meat. Always remove any of the pink fat found on
the skin side of the fillet. As with all fish this fat
holds very strong flavors. Also, never soak the gar in
anything. Gar flesh tends to absorb water and it gets
very soft if soaked too long. I hose it after cleaning
and quickly dry on paper towels. Now bread and fry
them up, or try any of the recipes found in the recipe
section. Thats all there is to cleaning a gar.