Jasper Lake at Northwind Lodge beach

Last Minute Internet Specials

Ely resort on jasper lake

Northwind Lodge location on Jasper Lake

If you have a few days, we have some great cabins for you at Northwind Lodge, at greatly reduced prices!

Enjoy a the true Northwoods charm of northeastern Minnesota with a delightful stay at our peaceful vacation resort near Ely, MN!  We’re on the Fernberg Trail a mere 15 minutes from Ely and we think in a short while here that you will agree that Northwind Lodge is the perfect place for your next vacation stay!

internet cabin specialsWe are located on Jasper Lake where the fishing is great if that’s what you like to do. We are also close to the BWCAW where you can take canoe day trips for a true sense of wilderness adventure. There are also some excellent hiking trails in the area for you to enjoy as well.  Our close proximity to Ely means you can enjoy the our great outdoors plus you can visit several attractions like the Wolf Center and the Bear Center.  There’s also downtown shopping for a truly unique experience with the many shops in Ely, making us your perfect vacation getaway.  You can be really in the woods and in the city or hide away completely here at Northwind Lodge.

We think that you may find the best part of staying here at Northwind Lodge will be enjoying your quiet evenings by a campfire listening to the haunting call of the loons of Jasper Lake.  We have a fire pit by the waterfall plus the beach with lots of firewood.  Remember to bring your marshmallows!

Here, the simplest pleasures of life come from most rewarding views, clean air, and clear water.   A stay here will refresh your mind & soul.

Check out the special prices we’ve put together.  Please note that they will change with the season and time is limited to reserve your cabin.  Click Here

Travel Rod for the back of the Family Truckster

brush rod for fishing

One of the biggest hurdles in traveling with with a car or via canoe in the Boundary Water (or anywhere for that matter)  is bringing along a rod and reel.  Conventional open water rod/reel combos are long, get caught in the brush, jammed in the back of the car, and can be challenging to transport without snapping the tip off turning a medium light 6 foot rod into a medium 5’6″ rod.  I’ve successfully carried a lot of rods through the brush on portages for a lifetime without ever having one break.  I didn’t say that I never came close to wiping my rod out on a branch but I’ve never broken one personally. That being said, I’ve had other people break my rods because they were clueless.  It’s no surprise that I only let my dad carry my rod on a portage or I carry it myself.  Those are the only two people allowed to handle my fishing rod when out in the brush.

Based on the fishing rod sales at Red Rock, a lot of people snap their rods off while carrying them in the woods around here.  They do a whole bunch of other dumb stuff, but two ways to handle fishing rods will keep your rods going for a long time if you like remote places:

  1. More rod tips die unnecessarily by not understanding that “one ALWAYS carries a fishing rod on any trail in the brush, ‘rod-butt-first’”. I would venture that 95% of  fisher-kind gets this ass-backwards every, single time.  Carrying your rod tip forward in brush can, at times, end poorly.
  2. When passing through a screen door, DO NOT walk out “rod butt first”.  If I had a nickle for every customer who walks out through the screen door at Red Rock with a BRAND, SPANKIN’-NEW, ROD, and pokes the rod butt to the outside world completely forgetting about the remaining 5 feet of rod behind them.  Guess what?  The screen door gets it every time.  WHAP!  SNAP!  For this reason specifically, I built the screen door at Red Rock with no spring on it.  A magnet holds it shut.  You have to physically shut it.  If you physically shut it on your brand new rod, there’s no hope for you.

Sure, you can tie your rod into your canoe, but depending on a number of variables, this is sometimes a time-eater and causer of neck pain.  It is also no guarantee that the rod will survive your Labrador or your 13 year old, and you still have to wander around in the brush.  You’re in the woods for Pete’s sake.

Introducing the Red Rock Brush Rod

Order this GREAT Spinning Combo Here!

At least, that’s what I’m calling it.  I was at a buying show wondering why, in a sea of ice fishing rods, would Daiwa have this neat little ice fishing rod and not be teaming it up with a reel for a cool winter combo.  I asked the snot-nosed sales rep that and the young lad looked at me like my “completely unheard of, totally unique, idea” for an “ice rod combo” was going down as a great revelation in fishing history.  Never mind that when I arrived at the Daiwa space, he and the other children (first time at the show), were throwing casting weights to irritate the women across the aisle and cranking them back in with their Daiwa reels, ironically while looking at competitor booths selling every conceivable ice rod combo all around Daiwa.

Young lad aside, he couldn’t answer questions about this little rod other than it was a “dock rod” .  Turns out, this is a pretty cool little rod for fishing out of a canoe as well.  They say it can cast up to 20 yards which is 60 feet.  For sneaking around with a canoe or even a boat, that is WAY enough for darn near any kind of Boundary Waters fishing.  You can plug the shore for bass, drop over the side and jig for walleyes and lake trout, and throw some fairly heavy tackle for big northern pike.

I’ve often wondered why my ice fishing stuff which is comprised of everything being tiny (compared to my summer stuff) can work absolutely great in the middle of winter dragging a fish up through 2 foot deep hole in the ice.  Why is that?  My tiny little 27″ medium rod can pull 1 ounce airplane plugs 55 feet down and then pull up a 7 lb laker with a reel smaller than I would ever think to use in the summer.  Ice fishing is THE most brutal use of fishing gear.  If it’s not frozen, it’s freezing.  Everything is colder.  Water lands everywhere and freezes instantly.  And, then after all those knots of ice get cranked up through the eyelet of that tiny rod and into that tiny reel,  they all stick together and you are there trying to crack it off to unstick it just so you can do it again.  Everything is more brittle and it gets used pretty hard whether you are catching fish or not.  My ice gear gets used every bit as hard as my summer gear and maybe even moreso.

So, if we have a short rod, reel combo for summer fishing to do exactly the same thing as ice, who is to declare us wrong?

Tri Force Shorty

Tri Force Shorty

Ponder This

  • Just think how easy it would be to tie a 36 inch fishing rod into a canoe under the seat with a couple of  lighter weight bungees?
  • How much easier would it be to walk on a portage with a 3 foot rod?
  • Just think of how easy it would be to land your own fish with a landing net using a 36″ long rod instead of a 72″ rod.
  • What do you think the odds are that your partner in the front of the canoe is going to knock your hat off with a sloppy back-flip of a rod while winding up for a cast with a 3 foot rod?
  • What would it be like to jig heavy trout lures  over the side when jigging in Kekekabic Lake for lakers in May/June?

The Daiwa Triforce Shorty is available in both spinning and casting versions.  For those unfamiliar, casting versions have a “trigger” on the handle and would be the style you’d use for a baitcaster reel.  You could also rig it up with a a spincast reel like a Daiwa Silver Cast or Gold Cast.

We’ve teamed it up with the Quantum Triax TRX10 Reel for great balance.  This reel would take 100 yards of 6 lb. mono and probably 80 yards of 8 lb. mono.  You could cheat and go to 15 lb. test braid which would fit 125 yards on this reel as it is 4 lb. test diameter.  The Quantum Triax  reel very nicely matches the Daiwa Triforce Shorty and comes with 7 ball bearings and anti reverse. It’s bail closes with just the right amount of force.  I like an easy-closing, but not too easy, bail.  The reel weigh in at 5.8 ounces.

Quantum Triax TRX10F

Quantum Triax TRX10F

Order this GREAT Spinning Combo Here!

We’ll be offer the Triforce/Triax Brush combo at redrockstore.com once we get a bunch of parts and pieces in our website put together.  

canoe fishing rod combo, brush fishing combo

Perfect rod for canoe camping or crossing through rugged territory

ely resort rental cabins

Come dip your toe in the water!

We at Northwind Lodge want you to get your feet wet.  Just dunk one toe in the crystal clear water of Jasper Lake.  I mean, how long will that take?  Plus, in order to dip one toe in the water, you need to keep your balance.  How do you keep your balance?  You move slowly and deliberately.  You must plan your move and take your time.   That’s the proper way of getting your feet wet.

Now, imagine yourself taking your time, moving at your slower speed, enjoying the inviting gentle breeze that comes off the water.  There’s a loon calling off in the distance and a  river is running endlessly behind you, churning out that beautiful white noise as it tumbles into the lake where your toe is going to step.  You don’t hear the cars, you don’t hear the ever-present sounds of humanity as it normally surrounds you in your more hectic daily life.  You only hear the woods and the sounds here are so peaceful and different, your breathing slows down so you can hear some more.   It’s like a dessert that you never want to end and it doesn’t.  And so far, you only have your toe in the water.  It even gets better when you actually go on the water.  Then there is the night.  In the woods, with the clean air, you can see the billions of stars and planets above with unmatched clarity while the wolves howl in the darkness.

If you’ve never been to Northwind Lodge, we’ve put together a few “get your feet wet” packages for you to come and test the waters of Northwind Lodge.  You get a housekeeping cabin for two or three nights, a motor and boat, dinner at a nice restaurant for one evening in Ely all at special rates.  Click Here to see our Short Stay Cabin packages.  

So come up for a 2 night / 3 day or the 3 night / 4 day stay  at Northwind Lodge.  Go fishing, hang out at the beach, stay inside and read a good book, do whatever you want.  Get away from it all and take us for a test run.  If the shoe fits, we would be happy to have you come back and wear it some more!

Northwind Lodge is an awesome resort with many of our guests returning yearly for 30-50 consecutive years.   We hope you’ll like it here like they do.  Give us a call and let’s find a time and a cabin for you!  1-800-280-1078 


Bluegills and U-Boats

Using what whatever snow is left in the yard to get the Skidoo to the water, I drove out on the ice on Jasper Lake  on March 16 at 1:30 PM to set up a pup-up shelter for fishing.  It was warm out at about 40 degrees but like every other March, it was windy.   Blowing from the south, then the north, we ended up tying the 6 x 8 pop-up off from each end to my Skidoo and my dad’s 4-wheeler.  We were 100 yards off the beach of Northwind Lodge.

We made use of pre-drilled holes from the day before when we went fishing with Dave Oliver and Paul Haraldson, so setting up was quick.  We got inside the tent along with Delilah and began paying homage to the gods of bluegills by staring down the hole.  Boy, talk about getting a sore upper back and neck after doing that for 4 hours straight.

We dropped down various jigs a sparkly little spinners and they began to come in.  There were fewer today, but they were running bigger.  Nice sized, fillet-able fish swimming 5 to 7 feet below.  Today’s visibility was not as good as yesterday and we can never understand why.  Conditions were about the same with a partly cloudy day, but nonetheless, the sunnies below were bigger and a bit more picky.  All of a sudden, a 5 lb northern pick glided across in the shallow depths below.  The sunnies blew the popstand at that point and then some really nice sized largemouth bass came in for a look.  Even though the sunnies are good sized, those bass come in and they are huge.  2.5 to 4  pounders stopping in to see if they want that tiny #14 tungsten jig with a little bit of plastic on the hook.  It gets your adrenalin flowing because these are really nice fish. But nope, they swam by. After all that fish activity going by, it takes the bluegills about 30 minutes to come back after the head bluegill declares the coast to be clear.

I have 5 rods on the ice floor of our living room on the lake.  Each is rigged with a different jig & different plastics.  Most of the stuff I use is tungsten.  When the school is passing through, one must keep their interest for them to stick around.  So, if they are slow moving to one lure, crank up fast and drop another.  Must have been the air-pressure, but they were only moderately interested in what we were offering.  There was my dad setting the hook and saying “aarrggh!” and and me doing the same while declaring  “dang it!”.  The fish below would suck in a jig completely. To hook them requires an immediate hookset.  You’re like a coiled spring with a trip wire.  Trouble is that inexplicably, you can set the hook and miss them time and again despite their having inhaled the entire jig.  We call it “flipping them”  when we set a hook and it pulls them up and they flip a sideways somersault and swim away dazed but unharmed.  To avoid frequent flipping, we tried letting them take it for one second and they spit it out in slightly less than one second.  Their little bluegill tongues must quickly identify plastic.  We finally moved to tungsten bead head flies made by Cortland with no plastic and caught a few, flipped a few more.

Then, in a blast of sunfish panic, those slow-moving fish dispersed in all directions like spokes on a bicycle wheel.  Big northern coming through like a German U-boat on the hunt.  The bluegills beneath his level could hear the “ping” as the big green U-boat glided methodically overhead.  To hide, they descended deeper & deeper, closer to the bottom, holding their breath, beads of sweat rolling off their gill covers.  Minutes changed to hours as that big predator swam between them and the two faces staring down the holes in the ice above watching and waiting.  And waiting. And waiting.

Dang northern scared everybody off.  We sat for another 30 minutes with 5 bluegills on the ice and nobody was returning back to that spot.  My dad and I finally gave up.  We knocked down the tent, loaded the sled and cranked up our machines and headed home.   Had we caught every fish we saw including some very large perch, we’d have had fish laying all over the ice.  There certainly is no shortage of fish in Jasper.  Keeping them on the hook is the tricky part.

Bug Season in N.E. Minnesota

Bugs!  For some strange reason, these days people are more frightened of insects than I’ve ever seen before.  The mere mention of bugs makes women swoon and men break out in a sweat.  C’mon people – lets build up some intestinal fortitude already.  It’s Minnesota, it’s wilderness, it’s going to have some bugs.  OK, some times a lot of bugs and those times can vary depending on the rain, the amount of snow we had the past winter, the current temps and water levels in the lakes.  Those are a lot of variables and if you live here your whole life, you will know that some years have buggy times, no bugs, a couple bugs, or swarms that can help you walk.  And that is why we use bug dope.  Not the natural stuff either.  We sell the natural stuff at our big store here at the lodge, but if the bugs are bad, we can recommend “the good stuff” depending on the offending bugs on hand.  Contrary to all the misguided reports which declare that DEET works against “the bugs”, they don’t have a clue.  DEET is a masking agent that works for mosquitoes.  DEET is not the most effective thing for flies – biting flies like black flies that like to chew along your shirt sleeve cuffs ankles,  and where your hat line sits on your head.  You need fly repellent.  Guess what – with the exception of Red Rock Wilderness Store and maybe a few scattered stores around the country, you can’t find bug dope specifically for repelling flies from humans.  Here’s what it looks like and we sell lots of it not only for the occasions when sand flies (local talk for black flies) come out in force here but also in other parts of the US.  It’s good stuff and I do not know of anyone dying from using it…yet.  Now,  this product is ultra effective when one drinks it but in that case it is also usually fatal whereupon the bugs completely lose interest.  Don’t drink any bug dope.  It always ends badly…

The Buggspray we sell has two fly repellents in it and 25% DEET.  The DEET part is for the mosquitoes.  They don’t care about the fly repellent part.   We don’t care about the mosquito part of this bug dope.  The fly repellent part is worth buying the bottle or even two.  If you are coming to stay here at Northwind Lodge, we have it in stock.  Not coming to Northwind Lodge?  Order your Buggspray Here.

Buggspray Fly Repellent

Bugs Come Out When?

bugs in minnesota

Black flies seem to like the third week in June, sometimes the second and third, sometimes you’ll see them the last week in May.  By the 4th week of June, it’s buh-bye black fly.  Summer 2014, we had a few mornings and evenings of black flies here.  Other areas, they were thicker than pea soup and non-existent.  Note that they can come from 10 miles away, so some areas can be unfortunate from year to year or fortunate if you are one of those “glass half full” types.   If I’m out working in dirt, I will sometimes put on a long sleeve shirt and a bug net over my head because if they get thick, you can inhale them once in a while.  But don’t panic, that’s when you dig in the dirt, swing a shovel, and roll around rocks.  Very few of our guests appear willing to do this while staying here.



Mosquitoes can start out early in May and are usually big, slower moving bombers.  They can come and go, but don’t handle wind well.  For the last several years, they’ve been low during the day and busy right at dusk but I can’t remember if 2014 was bad or not.  That’s what 50 years of feeding bugs does to you.   DEET is effective.   Non-DEET products are GREAT if you see ONE mosquito flying by at a distance of no less than 50 feet from you.   Then the “all natural” (gentle-speak for ineffective chemicals, but chemicals nonetheless) works really well.   “I saw a bug in the next county so I put on mint flavored bug dope and it worked really great!”

July can present deer flies and horse flies and biting house flies (ankle biters in the boat) while the sand flies are completely gone and the mosquitoes might only be around at dusk.  If you live here all the time, you’ll note that July mosquitoes get smaller and fly much faster May mosquitoes.  In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, they call them “chiquitas”.  Apparently, mosquitoes look like flying bananas in the U.P.   Generally, all mosquitoes are gone by mid-to-late July and the horse/deer flies go away as well.  August can be a completely bug free month.

August being bug free depends on the weather, water-levels and temps in the months prior.  In other words, this is a guide – a rule of thumb.  I’ve seen mosquitoes make it all the way through the month of September with sand flies re-emerging in October and November.  That’s fairly rare but it does happen.

So, what will this summer bring in bugs?  I dunno.  Have to wait and see.  That’s why we sell bug dope.

Filleting a Northern Pike (and all other fish)

STEP 1: Make first cut by grasping fish between the gills and poking knife into softer throat region ahead of the two front fins
Fillet a Northern Pike

STEP 2: Slide knife forward towards tail of fish between the two middle fins and stop by the bottom fin just in front of tail

(Still) STEP 2: Slide knife forward towards tail of fish between the two middle fins and stop by the bottom fin just in front of tail


STEP 3: Lay fish on side and make a vertical cut using a sawing motion down to the backbone taking care to NOT slice through the backbone.


STEP 4: Turn your knife flat and parallel to the backbone. Saw along the backbone (You’ll hear rib-bones and “Y” bones being cut through) to the tail, removing the complete slab of fish meat (?) which is one fillet. Do this to each side of fish.

STEP 4a: Cutting gets easier near the tail doe to no rib bones


STEP 5: Remove the belly fin by slicing with the tip of your knife.

STEP 5a: Removing fin is easy if you hold it up and slice it off


STEP 6: Locate the row of rib bones on the fillet by feeling them with your finger. Then, place your knife edge right behind them and slice underneath. Remember to turn your knife blade up against the underside of the ribs immediately as you are making long, steady slices down the row of rib bones. The idea here is to remove the ribs without wasting meat.

STEP 6a: After slicing about half to three quarters of the way under the ribs, hold the fillet down with your knife point, grasp the ribs and tear them out. This move greatly speeds up the process and helps if you have a lot of fish to fillet.


STEP 7: Grasp the tail of the fillet with pliers and cut into flesh with blade while turning blade almost flat and sawing. Simultaneously pull with the pliers and push with the knife with a sawing motion. It helps to waggle your plier hand from side to side as your knife hand saws down the skin of the fillet.


STEP 7a: Continue down the fillet. The feeling in the knife is one of slight tearing as it cuts. Too sharp of your blade angle and you slice through the hide. Too flat of a blade angle and you will leave meat on the hide. Your knife must be quite sharp and you’ll need to develop a feel.


STEP 7b: If you will be transporting your fillets, turn your blade down and slice sideways leaving a patch of skin on the fillet for identification purposes.

STEP 8: Completed Northern Pike fillets will look like this if done properly. If they look like they were driven over by a street sweeper, you’ll need a bit more practice.

How to Eat a Northern Pike

How to Eat A Northern Pike

Y Bone Picking 101
Instructor: Joe Baltich, C.N.P.E.
Red Rock University Online
Red Rock Wilderness Store

There’s absolutely no mystery in figuring out how to eat a northern pike fillet. Northern pike caught in cold water are delicious fish with more body and taste than a lot of different species out there.  I must admit that big northerns caught in muddy waters can sometimes taste like mud, but overall all I think this is a rarity for northern Minnesota waters.  Hopefully, I’ll take away some of the excitement of “choking on your first  Y bone” with the pics and discussion on the following pages.  No need for all of those fancy, wasteful, time consuming,  pike de-boning techniques discussed by all the “experts” and “guides” out there.  All you have to do is know a little bit about the anatomy of a northern pike to easily remove the bones in about 1 minute AFTER the fish is cooked. When you learn this same technique that my dad taught me when I was about 6 years old, you’ll wish you’d have kept some of those 2.5 lb. northerns you threw back over the years.  When I was guiding and the walleyes were spotty for shore lunch, I taught this technique to many “I-am-amazed-at-how-good-these-northerns-taste” clients and produced LOTS of converts.   In NE Minnesota waters (at least), they actually have more flavor than benign, tasteless walleye fillets. Plus they accept seasonings better as well.  Go ahead – admit it: about all you really taste in any fresh walleye fillet is the breading – the meat has relatively no taste. Walleyes are also a favorite because there are no bones in the fillets so you can eat them in a more dignified manner with a knife and fork like you would dine on a steak. On the other hand, If you cut a northern fillet crossways with a knife, you’ll end up making 8 sharp, little, pointy bones out of four.  So put the knife back in the drawer.  I’m gonna lay out the only way to eat northern pike with just a fork and and your fingers – much like chicken.  In fact, think of it as chicken of the sea (lake).  Northern Pike eaters aren’t afraid to touch their fish like those wimpy walleye guys.

So if this page helps you understand how much good fish you’ve been throwing back or worse yet, wasting by killing northern pike as “junk” fish or just filleting out the tail section and throwing the rest away (believe me, it happens ALL the time with “expert” guides all over the place), my work here has been worthwhile.  Enjoy!


Here you see two northern pike fillets from a 2 lb. fish.  Every fish comes with a “lateral line”  on both fillets that I’ve indicated with the yellow dotted line in both halves of the fish.  In a properly filleted northern with the rib bones removed, you’ll have fillets that look like this picture.  Notice the “Belly Fin Notches”.  These notches along with the belly meat that curls when cooked, will tell you the orientation of the fillet. See pictures 5 and 5a at How to fillet a northern pike to view this fin, A thoroughly cooked fish will break right along the lateral line easily with a fork.  A fish that’s cooked rare (bad – very bad) will not cleave apart easily on the lateral line and it will look “glassy”.  Put that one back in the frying pan for a bit longer.

Here’s what they look like breaded.  I used Chef Roberts breading and it was excellent!  You can also make a good breading by putting in a plastic bag: pancake flour (you don’t need a lot to do a bunch of fish), add a pinch of salt, a few good shakes of Mrs. Dash, a pinch of cayenne pepper for a little zing and maybe a touch of black pepper.  Shake it all up, drop the just-washed-and-a-bit-wet fillets into the bag, shake and fry in hot oil.  I also use Chef Roberts Fish Fry oil.  A little in the pan and fry both sides of fillets till golden brown.  You can use corn oil, too.

Here you see a fried, delectable, fillet.  Notice the yellow, dotted line.  That’s the lateral line you are seeing from the inside of the fish.  This is what your minnow saw just before he saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, it was darker and not just fried in Chef Robert’s breading.

Pictured below is the other half of that northern with the fillet upside down.  You can see the lateral line better on the hide side of the fish especially when some of the breading falls off like it did here.  This is what your partner’s minnow saw when this northern bit your hook instead.

Next Step: On a cooked fillet, break the fish along the lateral line with your fork or fingers. In this picture (left-below), the bottom piece is  the Rib Section and the Top Section is where the dreaded Y bones are located.  If you are starving, you can wolf down the rib section (bottom half) as you go.  OR, this is the section you give to the kids, the wife, or guests who insist that they can tell the difference between walleyes, northerns, and bass.  Trust me, you’ll be amazed at how many times they have NO clue.  I guided for 23 years and cooked a zillion shore lunches.  99% of my discriminating clients could absolutely not tell me which fish was which by tasting them, but they really loved those northerns!  Funny part was that they insisted that northerns would taste bad even after eating a plateful of Rib Sections and declaring how excellent those “walleyes” were. Even after I politely explained to them that they just ate a bunch of northerns, I would be met with denials, disbelief and shocked declarations of exquisite walleye tasting knowledge. Everyone knows that northerns taste terrible.   Hey, I was a guide and I got sick of hearing all of those clients’ pronouncements of all-around fishing experience and exposure so I took it into my own hands.  This is what happens when the misinformed continue to spread ridiculous nonsense…plus, it was very entertaining as well!

The photo on the right is just the other side of the fillet showing the fork separating at the lateral line of the fish from a “hide” side perspective.  Again the bottom half is the rib section and the top section where is the Y bones are located.



Next Step:  Y bone removal
To remove them bones, them bones, them Y bones, you need to perforate the Top Section of the fillet with a fork.  Follow the dotted line below, perforating the fillet back and forth from about where you see the fork tines at the tail of the fish towards the head of the fish which would be to the right.  You’ll need to use your other hand and fingers to hold down the fillet as you pull the fork out.  I would have demonstrated this but I needed that hand to hold the camera.

Refresher Shot:  The key to knowing what you are poking with a fork is by noticing the subtleties in the fried fillet and its general orientation relative to the hashbrowns and pork ‘n beans on you plate.  In the Rib Section, you’ll notice the curled up piece that almost always occurs at the lower edge of the fillet. This is the belly of the fish and the actual curl ends up just in front of the belly fin notch.  Noticing the “curl” (enhanced in pic below) is what will tell you immediately where the boneless section of the fish is located. This is a thinner piece of fish and usually crunchier – perfect for the youngin’s settin’ at the other end of the table.

Next Step: Lift and separate
OK- there’s really no lifting, but you can see separation going on in these shots. Use your fork and your other hand to separate the meat on the dotted line you made on the other page.  You’ll see all the ends of the Y Bones sticking out just like this.  They are clear in color unlike the ones you see below which I drew in black because they didn’t show up well with a digital camera and blue paper.  Pretend you are looking at the shadows of the bones.  I also drew another bone in red (photo on right) so you could see what they look like when they’re still holding that poor fish together.

On the right is what you should see when done separating.  If you don’t see this, make sure it’s a fish that you’re working on and not like a cow or a chicken.


Below is what you will see when you hold up a piece of fillet with the ends of the Y bones sticking out.  In your case, it should be minus the “I-just-changed-the-oil-on-the-truck” thumbnail.  Eeeeww!  My other hand was cleaner but it was holding the camera.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Have you checked out Emeril’s hands up close, lately?  Uh-huh!

Just another shot of a deboned fillet with the dreaded Y bones in a fairly neat pile to the right of the fillet. Northern-eating protocol states that the Y bones shall be plucked out with thumb and index finger in quantities of three to six at a time, and then thrown over one’s right shoulder with abandon. You’ll need to explain this part to your wife if you happen to be eating inside.  Hey, I don’t make the rules…


How To Fillet a Northern Pike