4 Humane Ways to Kill a Fish After You Catch It

Last Updated on September 18, 2023

Even though fishing is a popular sport for many people, it’s vital to remember the responsibility that goes along with it.

It is morally right to kill fish properly after catching them, but it also protects the fishermen and the people around them, and some even say the fish will actually taste better!

In this article, we’ll talk about the best ways to kill a fish after you catch it and the different ways you can do it.

4 Humanely Ways to Kill a Fish

It’s essential to know the best way to kill a fish. Using the right tools and methods and taking care of the fish the right way can help keep the fish’s quality and ensure that fishing is done responsibly.

The four main ways to kill a fish: are the percussive method, the spinal cord severing method, the bleeding method, and the Ikejime method.

Percussive Method

The percussive method involves hitting the fish in the head with a blunt object, like a club or a rock, to make it unconscious so it can be bled out or gutted.

Most people think this method is kind because it ends the fish’s suffering quickly and effectively.

But it can be hard to do right and might not work for bigger fish that need more force. It is best for trout or panfish, which are smaller fish.

Spinal Cord Severing Method 

The spinal cord severing method involves quickly cutting the fish’s spinal cord by inserting a sharp knife into its brain or behind its gills. 

This method is effective and kind because it stops the fish from moving immediately and prevents it from suffering. 

But it takes some skill to do it right, and it may only be suitable for some fish. It is most often used for larger fish.

stop the fish from moving

Bleeding Method

In the bleeding method, the fish’s gills are cut to let the blood flow out, which kills the fish quickly and painlessly.

This method is considered kind and is often used for bigger fish because it doesn’t take much strength. But it can get messy and may only be suitable for some types of fish. 

Ikejime Method

The Ikejime method is a Japanese technique for killing fish. It involves inserting a spike into the fish’s brain to kill it immediately and painlessly.

This method minimizes stress on the fish and results in higher-quality meat due to reduced muscle tension and improved blood removal.

It is commonly used in commercial fishing and is gaining popularity among recreational anglers.

Best Practices

Safety Considerations

Safety should always come first while handling fish. Handling the fish carefully is imperative to avoid hurting the fish or yourself.

Use the right tools and equipment to handle the fish safely, such as pliers and gloves.

Correct Handling of the Fish

To ensure the fish’s well-being and make cleaning simpler, proper handling of the fish is essential.

To carefully remove the hook, use a net or your hands, being cautious not to harm the fish’s jaw.

To keep the fish alive until it is time to clean it, put it in a pail of water or a live well.

Preserve the Quality of The Fish Meat

Preserve the Quality of The Meat

When you’ve killed the fish, keeping it as cold as possible is critical to retain the meat’s quality. Ideally, keep the fish on ice or in an ice-filled cooler until you’re ready to clean and cook it.

This will assist in delaying the growth of bacteria and keep the meat from deteriorating.

Quick Fix: If you don’t have a cooler, get a thermal bag and place a piece of cloth moistened in the water you fished from.

Cleaning the Fish

Use an easy-to-clean surface, like a cutting board, to wash the fish, and use sharp or fillet knives to make precise cuts.

Make sure to dispose of the fish waste properly by burying it or putting it in a sealed garbage bag.

Humane Ways to Kill a Fish FAQs

What is the ike jime method of killing a fish?

The ike jime method is a humane way of killing a fish, commonly used in Japan. It involves spiking a sharp tool, such as a knife or screwdriver, into the fish’s brain, cutting the gills and tail to bleed the fish, and threading a wire through the fish’s spinal cord. This method aims for a quick and stress-free death, ultimately maintaining the highest quality of meat.

What is percussive stunning, and how does it work?

Percussive stunning is a humane method of killing a fish by hitting it with a blunt object, usually just above the eyes where its brain is located. The forceful blow immediately knocks out the fish, rendering it unconscious. After stunning, the fish should be bled, similar to the ike jime method, by cutting the gills and tail and placing it in an ice bucket. Tools like wooden clubs, known as “priests,” can be used for percussive stunning.

What should you do if your initial attempt at humane killing doesn’t work as planned?

If your first attempt at humane killing doesn’t work as planned, you should make another attempt to ensure the fish doesn’t suffer. It’s essential to prioritize the well-being of the fish and make every effort to minimize any potential distress during the process.

What’s the primary goal when killing a fish humanely?

The primary goal when killing a fish humanely is to minimize stress and ensure a quick and painless death for the fish. This not only benefits the fish but also preserves the quality of the meat, making it more enjoyable for consumption.

Final Words

It is possible to fish responsibly and ethically by employing one of the compassionate and efficient methods described above and by adhering to standard procedures for catching and releasing.

Now that you know how to kill a fish after you catch It, it’s important to do it sustainably.

Let’s keep our oceans and rivers healthy and fish populations strong!

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