Fishing – How to Kill a Fish – Snapper

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How do you kill a Snapper effectively? Their shape means you cannot hit it on the head with a “fish donger”. We found this to be an issue when we caught our first Snapper. Luckily we were semi prepared with an iki spike. What is an iki spike? Well the best way to describe it is with a picture:

iki spike for killing fish

Basically you use it to spike the fish in the brain, killing it instantly. I have seen through our own hit and miss attempts really mess this up and miss the brain, only having to repeat the task over and over again until you see the fish suddenly stop moving. I am a huge fan of Killing a fish as quite as possible, in fact if I intend on keeping the fish I will kill it before any high fives or photos – this is just a mark of respect I have for fish. Due to vague write ups and “general” descriptions on how to kill a Snapper affectively, I have decided to do my own research and dissect a Snapper Head. To show exactly where the brain is located and what the size is. It wasn’t till I opened up the head that I relised just how off I was and also it gave me a very good precise area for the brain – dispelling a lot of what others had said.

Let’s get into it.

Below are photos I took of a Snapper I chopped open to show where its brain really is. I don’t apologies for the graphic nature of these photos as I know gutting and killing a fish is not a clean process and if you are only use to finished clean fillets – killing and eating your own fish is not for you. Please also note this fish is well dead before I attempted to chop it up and was killed very quickly, it did not suffer. This is a Smaller Pan size Snapper and the reason I chose this is that it is often the size people catch and keep (best eating in my opinion and they aren’t breeding stock).

Snapper Before Dissection

Snapper Before Dissection

Cross Section Snapper Head Brain

Cross Section Snapper Head Brain

Iki going straight through brain

Iki going straight through brain

Snapper - exact iki spot to hit brain

Snapper – exact iki spot to hit brain

So from these pictures you should get a good idea of where the brain is located and how to hit the brain when you are faced with a Snapper. There is no need to put any angle on the iki spike as this may lead to you missing the brain and not killing the Snapper. If you don’t hit the brain there is a good chance the Snapper will take 20 – 30 mins to suffocate to death. This has issues other than the basic disrespect you have for what you eat. Leaving a fish to die this way causes the meat to degrade in a huge way. A build up of lactic acid and other chemicals the fish’s body releases in an effort to combat the effects of suffocation result in bad tasting fish, come meal time. This is the same for any fish. The best practice is to kill the fish as soon as you have decided you will keep it.

The best way to know if you have hit the brain is that the fish will stop moving straight away and may start to have tiny spasms. You will also see that its gills aren’t moving anymore, if there is still gill movement or it is still flapping then the Snapper is still alive and you need to spike it again till it stops. Sometimes after killing a Snapper they may still flap the odd time, this is just nerve activity.

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11 Responses to “Fishing – How to Kill a Fish – Snapper”

  1. Trev says:

    Thanks heaps, brilliant concise info.

  2. smiles says:

    Is it called an Iki spike because its a little bit Iki ? =)

  3. Brett says:

    Hi Korin,

    I was just reading on this site: that it’s better to spike the brain from a spot approx 1cm from the brain towards the eye and 1cm up from the brains location. Then you would angle the iki spike back towards where the brain is and in towards the vertical centre line of the fish.

    They recommend this way because if you try to go straight into the brain from the side you will hit the hard bone surrounding the brain and not get the brain itself. Whereas the bone on the top of the brain is much weaker and easily penetrated.

    I have yet to try this method but will definitely give it a try next time I catch a Snapper.

  4. Sean says:

    Brillant description – many thanks!

  5. john humfrey says:

    Excellent webpage. Thank you.

  6. Andrea says:

    Thanks. Will try it out next time i catch one :-)

  7. korin says:

    Yeah still quite a bit of work to do, only in its first stage… i just wanted to get something up ;)

  8. arronc says:

    great design using WP united :)

  9. David Renwick says:

    Thanks for this info, I see you posted it today !!!
    We had a lot of discussion around this, and I tried to find where the brain was myself, but wasnt sure.
    Thanks again this is really good of you to post this information.

    Regards. David

    • korin says:

      No problems, it was one of those issues that worried me when I was attempting to kill Snapper earlier on and I found finding answers not easy to come by. I saw line drawings but they weren’t factural so I decided to work it out, once and for all. I think from the photos you can work out the common features of the snapper to work out the best place to iki spike it. I really want to make sure there is good info out there on this aswell because i’m very much in faviour of quick kill aswell as no ruining the fish meat with bad practice. I’ll look into other fish species as I catch them, however fish like gurnard and Kahawai we generally use the donger and a good hit on the head kills them instantly.

      • Alistair says:

        Thanks for that bit of info Korin. Much appreciated.
        I also had the hit and miss approach when I first bought a spike.

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