CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- Fish cleaning and cooking may not be an intuitive skill, but it's easy to learn. Dave Knuth, a fisheries management biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), will demonstrate how to properly clean and cook catfish, crappie and Asian carp at the Cape Riverfront Market, Saturday, Oct. 25, at 8:45, 9:30, and 10:15 a.m. Knuth will even have samples of the fish for the crowd to taste.
"This is an opportunity for people who aren't comfortable cleaning fish to see how easy it really is, and also for folks to try a taste of these fish," Knuth said.
He said the trick to cleaning a fish is getting to know its internal structure.
"There are specific ways to clean different species of fish. For example, Asian carp have a very different bone structure than many of our native fish," he said.
Knuth said these demonstrations are an effort to inform people of the benefits of properly cleaning fish and also to gain awareness for the invasive Asian carp. Asian carp populations are growing in many of our large rivers and are competing with some of our native fish, he said.
"Asian carp, specifically the silver carp, are not only causing declines in some of our native fish populations, but can also to be a danger to boaters in the waters where they exist," Knuth said.
Silver carp jump when they are frightened and many times will jump into the boat.
"I used to wear a football helmet to keep from getting hit in the head by them," he said.
Knuth said Missourians can be an integral part in reducing the numbers of Asian carp by harvesting them. Knuth also said that because Asian carp are an invasive species, there's no limit to how many anglers can keep. He and other conservation officials hope once people know how to clean and cook the troublesome fish, they will "kill the species with a fork." The first step is getting people to try it and learn how to prepare it. Knuth said Asian carp have a very white and flaky meat and some even prefer it over tilapia or catfish.
"Sometimes people just need to see something firsthand to get the hang of it," Knuth said, adding he will also take the time to interact with the crowd and answer questions.
Fishing is a time-honored tradition in Missouri and a great way to discover nature as a family. Educational programs like fish cleaning demonstrations help to continue that tradition for future generations.
The Cape Riverfront Market is open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the parking lot at 35 S. Spanish, next to Celebrations Downtown and across from Bel-Air Bar & Grill. For more information about the Cape Riverfront Market, please visit caperiverfrontmarket.com.
For more information on where to fish or how to clean and cook fish, go online to mdc.mo.gov.