Northern pike get a bad rap because no one wants to deal with those Y-bones, but once you learn the proper technique to remove them, you’ll see that it’s quite simple. In this step-by-step how to video, Bill Rosner (North Country Guide Service) shares a quick and easy strategy for extracting delicious fillets that are complete free of any Y-bones. 

Despite the fact that most northern pike evade the frying pan, they are an extremely tasty fish to eat. If you mix a few pike into your next fish fry, I can promise you no one will be able to tell the difference between these and your walleye fillets.

Once you’ve mastered this technique, you’ll be putting a lot more pike in your livewell!

This is Billy Rosner‘s three-step method for cleaning a northern pike:

Step #1 – Lay the pike flat on it’s belly and make the first cut coming straight down behind it’s head until you feel the backbone, then run your knife across the top of that bone until you get to the dorsal fin.

pike y-bones removal
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That cut exposes the backbone and Y-bones perfectly, allowing you to locate and isolate the pesky bones that everyone complains about.

Step #2 – Lay the pike on its side so the backbone is facing pointed towards you and it’s belly is pointed away. Insert you knife into the meat just above the Y-bones and run it down the length of the northern pike until you have a nice fillet of side meat.

northern pike y-bones removal
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Repeat step #2 on the flip side of the fish for another delicious side fillet.

Step #3 – Now that you’ve cut the meat off the fish, it’s time to remove the skin from the fillets. This is a simple process that’s universal amongst all species of fish. Lay the fillet flat so the skin is against the table. For the side pieces, simply run your knife between the meat and the skin and you’ll be good to go. For the fillet you took off the back of the fish, you’ll need to make a V-shaped incision across the middle of the fillet to remove the backbones.

y-bones pike fillet
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It’s as easy as that! Now you’re left with a pile of boneless northern pike fillets ready for the frying pan!

Make sure to watch the video above for an excellent illustration of this method in action!