Whats the trick to keeping the scales on the crappies as you skin them? I have tried numerous things and nothing seems to hold them. Any ideas ?
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The very best way is don't bend the skin. If needed, take the body out in pieces. Crappie really are not that hard.
and flesh body by itself
...all your skinning. I have the traditional fish skinning tool that I use to use religiously. But since I purchased the cheeker tool I pretty much use that for all my skinning. It's easier to work side to side with the angle it's at. And it has a slight upward bend to it that gives some additional leverage. It tends to pull off the meat more than cutting it off like the older skinning tool does. (Can you tell I really like it?)
Also, another thing you may wish to do to alleviate stress at the head is instead of cutting the head off, simply continue your backside incision up the gill cover to (nearly) the top of the head. This will relieve pressure and allow you to get into the head easily w/o lifting scales. And it's a simple repair with epoxy (and it's on the backside anyway). I do this for all"flat fish" like Crappie and Bluegill.
Other than that I don't do anything special other than T.L.C. If possible, I'll skin them out partially frozen and have noticed things are a bit easier. The flesh tends to break off in chunks as Cecil mentioned. And I preserve my skins in 50/50 alcohol/H20, so the denatured alcohol stiffens things up a bit as well. All in all though, I would say to slow down and take your time. The above "tricks" will help a little bit, but the real answer is you're being too rough in your handling of these species. Be conscious of every move you make. Lift the fish off the table and support and stress areas when you move it around/flop it over. CONSTANTLY check the backside for scale pops - at least until you get the hang of things. And if you get a few scales popping try to maintain and continue thru the process as gently as possible. You'll end up backing off on the pressure and completing the fish with only a few mistakes. Which are relatively easy repairs.
Best bang for the buck with the little "tricks", skin out the fish partially frozen...
what a mess
Submitted by pjk on 11/20/05 at 10:40 PM. ( ) 188.8.131.52