Fillet a Walleye Without Leaving Any Bones

What does it mean to “unzip” a walleye, and how do you do it? —Roy Brand Lancaster, OH It’s no … Continued

What does it mean to “unzip” a walleye, and how do you do it?
—Roy Brand
Lancaster, OH

It’s no secret that walleyes are one of the best-tasting fish on the planet. However, pesky lateral-line bones can turn any fish fry into the sportsman’s version of Hell’s Kitchen. “Unzipping” is the common term used to describe a simple way of removing that nasty line of bones from your fillets.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. Fillet and skin each walleye as you ordinarily would, making certain to remove the rib cage as well.

2. Begin the unzipping process by cutting a small 45-degree notch in the tail on either side of the lateral-line bones.

3. Holding the fillet vertically from the tail, begin at the notch and pull down gently on one side of the fillet. It should peel away easily from the lateral-line bones and red meat that runs along the length of the fish. Do the same with the other half of the fillet.

The end result should be two perfectly boneless pieces of meat and the backbone, which is discarded.

One fillet yields about four fish-fryable hunks of walleye. The technique takes only one or two fish to master.