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Through the Lens

How to Clean a Gar ( A Photo Guide)

Wed, May 28, 2014

Gar – that ugly prehistoric dinosaur of a fish – simply do not get the respect they deserve. Not only do they offer one heck of fight on rod and reel, they area bowfishing staple fish. Sadly their reputation as a junk trash fish combined with their armor–like hide keeps many from enjoying this abundant and great tasting fish.

Cleaning a gar may seem like a daunting task, and there are multitudes of myths about the cleaning of gar and the meat – so here’s a quick how to for rendering that scary looking toothy monster ready for the table.


lots of good meat on this 8lb 14 oz gar that was arrowed by my bowfishing partner in crime Amy Young of Henshaw, KY

First gather the few extra tools you will need:
1.Sharp sturdy skinning type knife
2.Tin snips
3.Thin flexible fillet knife
4. Gloves for those who wish to avoid the small cuts that sometimes result from sharp gar scales.

Place the gar on you cleaning surface and begin by making a horizontal cut directly behind the head. Given the bone like quality of gar scales, insert your knife tip between the scale lines in order to make the cut much easier.

Once the horizontal cut is made, grab you tin snips and insert them just below the hide and begin making the long vertical cut down the center of the gar’s back.
When your tin snips reach the dorsal fin, make a second horizontal cut downwards along the scale line

Now you are ready to begin the filleting portion of the cleaning.

Insert the tip of your fillet knife between the meat and the hide and begin to slowly slice the meat away from the hide on each side.
Once you have the hide free of the “loins” and meaty part of the fish, insert the fillet knife along the backbone of the fish, and simply slice the meat away from the ribs. Be aware that a gar’s rib cage is very long and extends nearly all the way to the tail.

The top loins are the good eating part of the gar. The “belly meat” is next to nothing, and full of bones, so all you are after are the two large loins.
There you have it – now that wasn’t that difficult was it? Since gar can become so very large the amount of good meat even from a single fish makes them well worth keeping and cleaning!

A NOTE OF CAUTION - NEVER EVER CONSUME THE EGGS FROM A GAR - THEY ARE EXTREMELY TOXIC TO ALL MAMMALS - INCLUDING HUMANS! Always dispose of the eggs in manner that no pets, birds, or people can get into them.

We prepare gar in a number of ways – but the all-time favorite at our house is “Poor Man’s Lobster”.
1.Cut the gar meat into bite sized chunks
2.Prepare a pot of crab boil, just as you would if you were going to boil crawfish, shrimp etc. Drop the chunks into the boil
3.Boil five minutes, remove from heat and allow to sit for an additional five minutes before removing the fish chunks.
4.Serve with melted butter, lemon juice or chill for later use.
5.You can substitute the gar cooked this way for most any recipe that calls for cooked crab meat or lobster.

Comments

G, Have u ever just rolled the meat in some flour and fried it??Im def going to have to try it:)

Posted by WhitetailFreak on May 28

Gloves?  YES!  Once had a friend who cleaned a sizable gar without them and his hands looked as if he’d been “sorting razor blades” upon completion of the task.

Posted by DozRdeer2 on May 29

Whitetail..yes we eat it that way as well - very good. The thing I think that puts some folks off, or maybe throws them for a loop - the expect it to be flaky like other fish and it’s not a flaky meat. A more firm texture like lobster, scallops, crawfish, gator etc.

DOZDEER - right now my hands look pretty battered up, between bowfishing and fighting them off the arrows and cleaning them..yikes! Finally gave up yesterday and started wearing gloves again when I am handling them.
Had a bit of a battle with a good sized one over the weekend trying to get her off the arrow and sheesh - I looked like I had been in a knife fight by the time I got the arrow out. 

Posted by G on May 29

I might have to give that a try.

Posted by Andy Meador on May 29

G, What about Asian carp??Ive heard they are good also…..

Posted by WhitetailFreak on May 29

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