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Since being once-and-for-all put off the Mass Meat Industry after seeing Food Inc summer ’09, I’ve made an effort to mend my meat-eating ways.

I’ve ordered 1/4 pig and 10 chickens from a free-range organic farm in Alberta. And I committed to learning to fish..
I haven’t made much progress on this. To date: I went fishing with some friends and a guide last summer and literally prayed I woudn’t catch a damn fish and thank God I didn’t although every other person did and at least the guide was very quick at bonking the flopping living things swiftly so they then became very dead but still it was hard to eat the meat even though it had been deliciously panfried over an open fire and everyone else was pretty much having a fish-eating orgy but I wasn’t.

And that’s as far as it went.

So for 2010, when the opportunity arose to learn how to fillet a fish (bring your own knife; dead fish provided) I thought I should take it to the next level.

I learned a few things.

1. It’s easier to eat a fish that looks like this:

Mouth of a jackfish / northern pike

This friends, is what is derisively term a Jackfish, but we prefer to call it Northern Pike. It abounds up here. They are tough-spirited fish, and check out that set of teeth.

2. The steps to filleting a fish are:
a. Cut just behind the gills
b. Cut along the spine, from neck to tail
c. I forget how to get the side of the fish completely off next (I looked away)
d. To skin it, place your knife flat between the skin and the flesh. Keep your knife relatively motionless, but tug the skin towards you. You can cut a hole in the skin to put your thumb through (extra tugging power).

Learning to fillet fish

3. The stomach is apparently a delicacy. (I think I threw up in my mouth a bit) (probably politically incorrect)
Fish (northern pike) stomach

So here’s what money’s done to me: it’s so disconnected me from the primal life-and-death biology of FOOD that even something as basic as fishing and filleting (we’re not talking pretty goldfish here, much less gentle cattle or smart pigs) has me all disoriented. Pathetic!

In contrast, our instructor was completely at ease.

Learning to fillet fish

Do I have any readers who fish?

If so: I wanna know – how did you get past all the squeemish stuff?

Give me a fish and I’ll eat a meal. Teach me to fish and I’ll save a lot of money, eat more healthfully, and live more sustainably. If I can keep it down.

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. Kylewith

    My dad is a fisheries biologist, so for lack of better wordier, I grew up on the water fishing.

    I think I was 6 when I “wacked” my first fish.
    Kylewith´s last [type] ..Photos of Colombian Ice Field Area


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    @Kyle So are you good at a quick kill now? And do you fillet your own fish too? Most importantly: Do You Eat The Stomach?


    Sep 12, 2010
  2. frankie

    I love to fish..have been fishing as long as i can remember..i don t think i ever felt squeamish… but would go fish any-day….


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    Frankie – seriously – would you take me sometime?


    Sep 12, 2010
  3. hansragnar

    maybe just go right to growing your own, year ’round…
    “…you can have a personal algae tank that provides fresh, ultra-nutritious food on a year-round basis.”


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    @hansragnar You had me until this sentence: And on a small scale in your own house if you grow it in dilute urine,


    Sep 12, 2010
  4. hansragnar

    ha ! well, does undiluted work better for you ?? but seriously, there are lots of other easy, and cheap, media to grow the stuff in… go on, be the 1st in your neighborhood, the envy of your peers !!!


    Sep 13, 2010

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