Help with Cleaning a shark

Hey All, I know there is debate about the quality of shark for eating. I’m not looking for that. I’m planning to keep a sharpnose or similar fast reproducing shark at some point for eating. I’ve heard different things and seen some videos on youtube.

I’m specifically interested in knowing how to clean the shark to avoid the meat from being tainted by its’ urine.

As soon as I catch one I plan to keep, should I cut him and let him bleed out first? If so, do I do this while he is on ice? Should I just immediately kill it and then filet it? Or should I do a full cleaning and cut him into steaks. I know which way allows for more meat, but for the first time, I’m looking for the easiest way to do it. I don’t know if its a timing thing or just a proper way to do it issue. Looking for any helpful advice without judgment :slight_smile: (90% of my fishing is catch and release!)


I bleed them and gut them as soon as I get the hook out of their mouth. Cut them behind the head deep enough to sever the spine, then stand in the water ( surf fishing ) holding the Shark by the tail, head in the water, and cut from the vent to the mouth, pull the guts downward and remove the guts by cutting them off. Usually takes about a minute to finish. I then fillet them, and put them on ice. I keep the remains to dispose of at home, and to prove what kind of Shark it was. I only keep Sharpnose, they’re sized just right for a dinner for three.
Kind of new to Shark fishing myself and this works for me. Learned to carry a knife sharpener after cleaning a Shark, they dull a knife pretty fast.

I haven’t bled one yet, so I can’t tell ya how that works. I have soaked mine(filets) in milk overnight and it seemed to kill any odors in meat. As far as cleaning, I have been skinning mine like catfish. I cut off the fins, cut the skin from belly up around/behind the head. then grab the skin and with a pair of pliers, roll the plier so ya get a few wraps of skin on it then pull like hell, while holding the head. After skin is off, I come from under the belly area and cut down along the back bone (cartilage?) to tail area. I carefully cut around the backbone and pull it out. then I’m left with nothing but meat. then I cut straight through where backbone was and I now have 2 long filets. I normally cut those in half and I end up with 4 nice sized filets.

I find it much, much easier to first cut fillets with skin intact and place the fillet skin down on a firm surface and then cut the skin off the fillet. Skin comes off easily and you waste almost zero meat in the process because the skin is so much tougher than the flesh it cuts away easily.

Having been in culinary for 28 yrs I can tell you don’t even fool with Atlantic sharpnose. Blacktip is OK if you soak it in Mountian dew. By far though mako is the best(it is the only shark with a bladder) hope that helps

First, do not fillet or cut the head or fins off until you get home. Second, do gut it and bleed it immediately if you plan to eat it and pack with ice and put it in the cooler, preferably in salt water. That will get you good quality meat with less urea taste and not get you a ticket if Mr. Green Jeans decides to stop you.

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after you bleed it out, gut it asap. if you want to keep fishing, put the fish on ice. if not, once you get home cut off the head and tail, then cut along both sides of the spine to remove it. and slice down the middle of the meat down to the skin, then unfold it so its flat. for something small like a sharpnose, you can cut between the meat and skin and remove the fillet easily. for something bigger like a blacktip, a hacksaw to remove the head and fins will be better than a knife. for big sharks skin out the meat a few inches at a time rather than an entire fillet, then steak the big chunks of meat you now have accordingly. most all of my sharks are released too, but ill keep an occasional sharpnose or bonnethead on my own and ended up cleaning a blacktip and a lemon in the past from charters between several people. sharpnose arent much trouble, but if you really want a big one you WILL need a knife sharpener! sharpnose/bonnetheads are enough for a couple meals and taste fine when prepared properly. a blacktip on the other hand (54" FL min length) will give you a lot of meat and you wont need another one the rest of the year and will take some time to clean and package. i prefer soaking the meat in lemon juice and water to remove off taste, then either grill, broil, bake, or fry. blacktips are def the better of the 3, bonnetheads also good, and nothing wrong with sharpnose again as long as all 3 are cooked properly.

Originally posted by greg sewell

Having been in culinary for 28 yrs I can tell you don’t even fool with Atlantic sharpnose. Blacktip is OK if you soak it in Mountian dew. By far though mako is the best(it is the only shark with a bladder) hope that helps

With all due respect to blacktip and mako (which I agree, both are superior), there’s no need to say “don’t even fool with Atlantic sharpnose”. It’s not like we can just magically reach into the water and yank up a blacktip or mako, but we can almost definitely do that with a sharpnose.

That, and honestly, sharpnose are decent eating. Nobody is going to write a magazine article about them, but they are just fine, and quite fun to catch on light tackle.

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