Have you ever wondered what goes into producing the tackle, gear and accessories we use today? Anglers and boaters often take for granted the tremendous effort it requires to engineer, design and manufacturer the countless components that combine to enhance our on-the-water experiences. You name it, and somewhere in Florida a team of skilled craftsmen are dedicated to producing the finest equipment for our use. We wanted to learn more about these professionals and about the products they specialize in, and we’re confident that you, too, will be fascinated with what we discover in our ongoing investigation.
Encompassing our favorite pastime, modern sportfish boats, fuel-efficient engines, advanced marine electronics, and the latest terminal tackle obviously take the cake when it comes to generating the greatest interest among the angling and boating community. Without these essentials we plainly wouldn’t have any use for this issue’s spotlighted product—fillet tables. A convenience that many of us take for granted, fillet tables, fish cleaning stations or whatever you’d like to call them, take the leaning-over-a-cooler back pain and slimy mess out of cleaning the day’s catch. Either on your backyard dock or at your local marina or boat ramp, fish cleaning stations also serve double duty as perfect rigging stations. And we’ve all learned that meticulously rigged baits definitely increase our on-the-water odds.
While fillet tables come in many configurations and a wide range of prices from a variety of weather resistant materials including aluminum, stainless steel and PVC pipe, few are as durable and capable of withstanding the long-term test of time like a genuine Florida Fillet Table (www.floridafillet.com). Assembled one at a time by skilled craftsmen from pressure-treated southern yellow pine, with only the finest corrosion resistant hardware and components, Ft. Lauderdale based Florida Fillet Tables has been serving anglers’ needs for nearly two decades with their signature serious of heavy-duty fish cleaning stations. Their 100% wood tables are currently in use from The Bahamas to as far as British Columbia. Florida Fillet Tables constructs a product that is practically indestructible. These tables are built to withstand the harsh saltwater environment and many years of damaging abuse from heavy rain and deteriorating sunshine. Whoever said pressure treated lumber doesn’t last long in the outdoors better think again. We can personally attest to the durability of this product because we’ve been filleting our catch on an original Florida Fillet Table for nine-years with no end in sight.
After a little pleading and a promised fishing trip, our team of investigators was granted a “behind closed doors look” at what it takes to build one these handcrafted beauties. Trust us when we tell you it’s much more than just nailing together a bunch of 2x4s. We chose to highlight a wood fillet table not only for its functionality, but also for its aesthetic appeal. Florida Fillet Tables compliment any dock and can be compared to a cherished piece of outdoor furniture.
With modified versions of each table available with optional roof, cabinetry, drawers and gutters, every 4′, 6′ or 8′ fish cleaning station starts the same way—with a pile of hand-selected lumber. Each plank is carefully inspected prior to making the final cut (no pun intended) with only the best pieces meeting the company’s stringent guidelines. Once the individual pieces have been selected, they are machine routed and meticulously hand-sanded to remove any sharp or rough edges. The lumber is also pre-drilled at this point in preparation of final assembly. All screw holes are countersunk and ultimately plugged and sanded for a clean finish. Over the next few steps the fillet table really starts to take shape.
Like any substantial build, the supporting framework is assembled first. The craftsmen spend a surprising amount of time making sure each joint is perfectly square and fits together snuggly before moving on. Sizeable 4×4 legs are added next with optional heavy-duty anodized L-brackets bolted into position for securing the table to the dock. The skeletal system of this table is built to withstand anything you can throw at it, or should I say anything you can throw on it. Florida Fillet Tables can easily support hundreds of pounds of weight, which is one of the reasons we chose to highlight this industrial-strength product.
Now standing upright, planks are added to the table and the backsplash and drip edge, which work to contain the fishy mess, are firmly screwed into place. The entire structure is now treated with an oil-based water repellent for an added level of protection. Seaboard® is the material of choice for the cutting surface and is carefully installed at a precise angle away from the user to ensure the person doing the filleting doesn’t get covered in fish scraps. In case you’ve never heard of it, Seaboard® is a high-density polyethylene sheet formulated to meet the specific requirements of harsh marine and other outdoor environments. A proprietary post-production treatment enhances the material’s ability to withstand the effects of saltwater, moisture and direct sunlight. Since it’s manufactured as a continuous extrusion, it is unconditionally guaranteed to never delaminate. Plus, Seaboard® doesn’t delete your knife’s sharp edge. A deep, Dura-Foam utility sink is also added at this stage with a flush fit for a neat, clean finish.
Now that the table is assembled, the next step in the manufacturing process involves installing the plumbing. PVC pipe brings the convenience of freshwater to the table and drains the sink. Industrial-grade brass spickets and valves provide years of maintenance-free service.
The final step when assembling a genuine Florida Fillet Table is mounting the company’s signature stamp of approval, guaranteeing the fish cleaning station is ready to serve its rightful owner anywhere in Florida or beyond. The tables have been so popular, that today Florida Fillet Tables offers a complete line of dock products, including cleats and dock boxes. Not bad for a company that got its start by building a friend a fish cleaning station as a favor. Next it was the friend’s neighbor, and then the neighbor’s neighbor, and you can piece together the rest of the story from there.