How to Bleed Ocean Fish

When out on the ocean in a charter or head boat freshly caught ocean fish can be hard to handle once pulled on deck and using the Ike Jime method to bleed them out or any method may be impossible to do because of the crowded, hot environment of still you need to kill and bleed out a fish until you get back to shore or you’ll ruin the meat. How Do You Bleed Ocean Fish?

  • Land fish quickly
  • Make an incision across the main artery below the gills
  • Hold the fish over a bucket of seawater
  • Bleed out (3 mins)
  • Flip the fish over to the other side & repeat your cut on other sets of gills
  • Bleed out (3 mins)
  • Rinse the fish with seawater
  • Place the bled fish or filet in a cooler on ice

If you follow these steps for processing the fish you are going to keep even on the hottest day, the ocean fish you catch can remain the tastiest and freshest from the ocean to your dinner plate. A trained chef is going to tell you it is 110% critical that the blood of a fresh fish be drained before taking it to the kitchen.

How to Bleed Ocean Fish

While you’re setting up to fish, fill your bucket about halfway with salt water. This will minimize the sloshing, especially on a boat. Once you catch a fish you’re going to keep for the table, grab the bluefish by its shoulders, behind its gills. What you’re looking for now is the fish’s collar, that triangular area above the pectoral fins and below the gills.

Hold your fish vertically over the bucket and insert the shears past one gill and out the other. Then snip. Make sure you cut through both lower portions of the gills, where they connect to the collar. Your fish will bleed immediately into the bucket. Drop your quarry into the bucket, head first. The process shouldn’t take more than a few seconds. The fish will thrash for a couple of minutes until it expires, pumping its blood out. Quick and humane for the fish, rather than slowly suffocating in the cooler. Neat and easy for you, and your taste buds will thank you later.

Bleeding fish is a common practice among fishermen to enhance the quality and flavor of the fish. Here’s a general guide on how to bleed ocean fish:

  1. Catch the Fish: Once you’ve caught the fish, handle it carefully to avoid damaging the flesh or causing unnecessary stress.
  2. Prepare Equipment: You’ll need a sharp knife, a bucket or container filled with seawater, and a cooler or icebox to store the fish after bleeding.
  3. Make an Incision: Lay the fish on a clean surface, preferably on a flat rock or cutting board. Locate the main artery, which is usually located just below the gills on either side of the fish. With a sharp knife, make a swift and deep incision across the artery, ensuring a clean cut to allow for effective bleeding.
  4. Bleed the Fish: Hold the fish over the bucket or container of seawater with the incision facing downwards. Allow the blood to drain out completely approximately 3 minutes or so. You may gently massage the fish along its body to help facilitate the bleeding process.
  5. Clean the Fish: After bleeding, rinse the fish thoroughly with seawater to remove any remaining blood or impurities from the flesh.
  6. Chill the Fish: Place the bled and cleaned fish into a cooler or icebox filled with ice to preserve its freshness and quality until you’re ready to prepare it for consumption.

It’s essential to bleed the fish as soon as possible after catching it to ensure optimal quality and flavor. Additionally, always adhere to local regulations and guidelines regarding fishing practices and fish handling to promote sustainable fishing practices and protect marine ecosystems.

If you decide you’re going to keep a fish, you want to bleed them right away. This will ensure you get the cleanest fillets and kill the fish quickly and humanely. To bleed them, all you need to do is cut the artery that runs along the bottom of the area between their gills.

You can bleed a fish in your boat or on shore, as long as you have your bucket and shears or knife – and clean saltwater nearby.

How long does it take to bleed out? It turns out that most of the blood in the main arteries is emptied out after three minutes if the fish is left to bleed out into the water. Almost the same amount of residual blood is found in the fish whether it is left to bleed out for 3 or 30 minutes

You’ll know you cut through the artery if there is a lot of blood loss or blood on the knife. If there’s no blood, then try again a little higher. After you’ve cut through the artery, place them in ice. As you can see in the video, all species of fish have this artery between their gills, even flounder.

Why Bleed Ocean Fish Immediatley

Bleeding ocean fish is a crucial step in ensuring the highest quality and taste of the catch. This process involves making an incision near the gills to drain the blood, which can spoil rapidly and cause the fish to develop a metallic or off-putting flavor.

Removing the blood slows down the decomposition process, preserving the freshness and texture of the fish. Additionally, it helps maintain the fish’s natural, delicate flavors and prevents the development of undesirable odors. Bleeding also enhances the visual appeal of the fish, keeping the flesh bright and attractive. Overall, bleeding fish immediately after capture ensures a superior culinary experience by maintaining the fish’s quality from the moment it leaves the water until it reaches the table.

Bleeding an ocean fish significantly improves its taste by removing blood, which can spoil quickly and impart a metallic or fishy flavor to the meat. When blood is left in the fish, it can accelerate the decomposition process, leading to a deterioration in texture and overall quality.

By making a precise incision near the gills and draining the blood immediately after capture, the fish’s flesh remains cleaner, fresher, and more flavorful. This practice also helps in maintaining the delicate, natural flavors of the fish and prevents the development of off-putting odors. Additionally, bleeding enhances the visual appeal of the fish, as the flesh retains a brighter, more appealing color. Overall, proper bleeding ensures a superior culinary experience by preserving the fish’s pristine quality from sea to table.

What is The Quickest Most Ethical Way of Killing a Fish?

Brain Spiking is the fastest, most painless, for preventing a fish from stressing & suffering before its death, by driving a sharp spike or screwdriver into the brain of the fish. The spike should be placed in a position to penetrate the brain of the fish & then pushed quickly & firmly into its skull …………………………………………..Read more

Clubbing an Ocean Fish

Hitting the Fish on the head or Clubbing

  • Once the fish is hooked on fighting and even when it’s out of the water, his adrenaline glands along with stress levels secrete fluids that also ruin the taste of the meat
  • Land the fish as soon as you can
  • Hit the fish in front of his gill plate-above the nose and under the forehead with a fish bat or something heavy and solid.
  • Don’t smash his head all over the deck just give it one or two direct hits that will stun it and knock it unconscious
  • The size of the blow depends on the size of the fish
  •  The blow should be aimed just above the eyes to impact the brain. The effectiveness of the stun should be checked and another blow applied if the fish is not unconscious.
  • Bleed out in a bucket
  • ice

Clubbing an ocean fish is a method often employed by fishermen to swiftly and humanely dispatch their catch, particularly when larger fish are caught and need to be subdued quickly. The process involves using a club or blunt instrument to deliver a forceful blow to the fish’s head, resulting in immediate unconsciousness and eventual death.

Fishermen typically use specialized clubbing tools designed for this purpose, which minimize damage to the fish and ensure a swift and effective dispatch. Before clubbing the fish, fishermen must ensure they have a secure grip on the fish to prevent it from slipping away or causing injury during the process. The clubbing action is usually directed at the fish’s head, targeting the brain to induce instant unconsciousness and minimize suffering.

This method is preferred over other forms of dispatch, such as severing the spinal cord, as it is less invasive and maintains the integrity of the fish’s flesh. Proper technique is essential to ensure a humane and efficient dispatch, with fishermen aiming for a precise and powerful blow to the fish’s head.

After clubbing, the fish is typically bled immediately to enhance the quality and flavor of the flesh, following standard fish handling practices. Clubbing ocean fish is not only a practical method for fishermen but also serves to uphold ethical considerations by minimizing the fish’s suffering and ensuring a humane harvest from the sea.

Spiking Method: Japanese “ikejime” technique

The spiking method, also known as the Japanese “ikejime” technique, is a humane way to kill and preserve the quality of fish. Here are the steps:

  1. Prepare Tools: You’ll need a sharp spike or knife and an ice slurry for cooling the fish afterwards.
  2. Secure the Fish: Hold the fish firmly on a flat surface to prevent it from moving.
  3. Locate the Brain: Find the spot just behind and slightly above the eyes, where the brain is located.
  4. Insert the Spike: Quickly and firmly insert the spike into the brain to cause immediate brain death.
  5. Ensure Proper Insertion: Ensure the fish stops moving to confirm the brain has been effectively spiked.
  6. Bleed the Fish: Make a cut at the gills to allow the blood to drain out, improving the quality of the meat.
  7. Rinse Thoroughly: Rinse the fish in seawater to remove any blood and impurities.
  8. Cool Immediately: Place the spiked and bled fish in an ice slurry to preserve its freshness and quality.

The spiking method is valued for its ability to reduce stress and preserve the fish’s flavor and texture.

Alternative methods for Humanely Dispatching Ocean Fish

There are several methods for humanely dispatching ocean fish aside from clubbing, each with its own advantages and considerations.

  • One common method is electrical stunning, where a precise electric shock is delivered to the fish, inducing immediate unconsciousness and death.
  • Another approach is percussive stunning, which involves delivering a swift and forceful blow to the fish’s head using a specialized tool or device designed for this purpose. This method disrupts the fish’s nervous system, rendering it unconscious and ensuring a quick and humane dispatch.
  • Some fishermen opt for spiking, where a sharp spike or knife is inserted into the fish’s brain, causing instant death. This method is particularly effective for smaller fish species and can be performed quickly with minimal stress to the fish.
  • Another alternative is immersion in ice slurry, where the fish is submerged in a mixture of ice and water to induce rapid hypothermia and loss of consciousness. This method is often used for certain fish species that are sensitive to handling stress and require immediate chilling to maintain quality.
  • Additionally, some fishermen utilize a process called asphyxiation, where the fish is placed in a container with carbon dioxide or another inert gas, leading to unconsciousness and death through lack of oxygen.

This method is effective for larger fish and can be performed with minimal handling stress. It’s essential for fishermen to choose a dispatch method that aligns with their fishing practices, the species being caught, and regulatory requirements to ensure ethical and humane treatment of ocean fish. Proper training and adherence to best practices are crucial to minimize suffering and maintain the quality of the fish harvest.


In conclusion, bleeding ocean fish is an essential practice for anyone seeking to maintain the highest quality and flavor of their catch. By promptly removing the blood, fishermen can significantly reduce spoilage, preserve the fish’s natural taste and texture, and enhance its visual appeal. This process ensures that the fish remains fresh and appealing, providing a superior culinary experience. Properly bleeding fish is a simple yet crucial step in responsible fish handling, promoting both the enjoyment of the catch and adherence to ethical fishing practices.

What is the Ike Jime Method?

Japanese Iki Jime Method is the fastest, most humane way of euthanizing fish, eliminating stress & lactic acid & maintaining quality by:
inserting a spike into the brain

  • Cutting gills to bleed out
  • Inserting a thin piece of wire into the spike hole & down the spinal column …………………………………………………………………………Read more

JimGalloway Author/Editor


The Fisherman- Inshore: Let It Bleed, A Better Way To Fillet


Why is clubbing an ocean fish necessary?  A: Clubbing an ocean fish is necessary to swiftly and humanely dispatch the catch, particularly with larger fish, to minimize suffering and ensure the fish’s welfare.

Q: How does clubbing work?  A: Clubbing involves delivering a forceful blow to the fish’s head using a blunt instrument or club, targeting the brain to induce immediate unconsciousness and eventual death.

Q: What tools are used for clubbing?  A: Fishermen typically use specialized clubbing tools designed for this purpose, which minimize damage to the fish and ensure a swift and effective dispatch.

Q: Why is clubbing preferred over other methods? A: Clubbing is preferred over other methods, such as severing the spinal cord, as it is less invasive and maintains the integrity of the fish’s flesh, resulting in higher-quality meat.

Q: Is clubbing humane?  A: When performed correctly with proper technique, clubbing is considered a humane method of dispatching ocean fish, as it induces instant unconsciousness and minimizes suffering.

Q: What happens after clubbing a fish?  A: After clubbing, the fish is typically bled immediately to enhance the quality and flavor of the flesh, following standard fish handling practices.

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