how to clean a catfish

How to Clean Catfish in 15 Seconds

We all know how tough Catfish are. Bludgeoning them with a hammer or stabbing them in the gut is not enough to kill them. Unless you are a master of Ikejima, a Japanese Catfish killing technique, you will have to go through some hassle just to take them out. Fortunately, cleaning them is not as hard.

Cleaning a Catfish can be easy if you have the right equipment and follow the correct method. Also, the old-fashioned way of cleaning a Catfish is redundant. With time, the process has become more efficient. This post is intended to help you gut the Catfish most naturally and safely.

Here are the Equipment Needed to Skin and Clean a Catfish

1. Fillet Knife

To skin and slice a Catfish, you must have a set of fillet knives ranging from 6 to 11 inches. Generally, skinning and slicing are performed after the internals of a fish have been removed. This knife also helps you make precise cuts as the back edge of a fillet knife curves upwards. To cut bony parts of the fish, you can utilize the large belly portion of the fillet knife.

2. Ice Cooler

If you are into deep-sea fishing, you must already have an ice chest, ice cooler, or an esky in your arsenal. The catch is loaded into an icebox (from the Livewell) once the angler reaches the shore. Even if you are not into fishing and wish to clean a store-bought Catfish, you must have an ice cooler. Storing the fresh cuts in a kitchen refrigerator can stink up the entire compartment.

3. Disposable Fillet Gloves

A fillet knife is a sharp device. Before skinning a slippery Catfish, it is essential to ensure puncture and slashing protection for your fingers. Wet conditions, an already existing injury, or poor circulation in the wrist, can lead to an accident. Hence, you need specially designed fillet gloves. Do not settle for general kitchen gloves. They do not offer 100 percent protection against a sharp-edged fillet knife.

4. Bucket

A bucket can be used to throw the carcasses during and after cleaning the Catfish. Fresh fish carcasses may not stink immediately, but they will begin to reek if left for a few minutes. It is always good to collect all carcasses in a bucket and throw them in a garbage bin once you are done cleaning the Catfish.

5. Fillet Board

As you already might know, Catfish do not have scales (except a few rare species). Common Catfish have slippery mucus-covered skin. Hence, it is not safe and efficient to place the fish on a flat surface such as a countertop kitchen platform or a desk.

A fillet board is explicitly designed to hold slippery fish in place when filleting. A two-way fillet board also comes with a clamp. You can clamp down the Catfish’s mouth in the holder and cut away the flesh with ease.

Easy Steps to Clean a Catfish

Step 1:

Put on the disposable fillet gloves before you begin cleaning and filleting a Catfish.

Step 2:

A Catfish has four fins, two in the dorsal area, and the other two near the tail. You can chop them off before cleaning the fish, but they can help you locate the bones, hence leave them as they are for now.

  • Point one dorsal fin toward you and locate the uppermost bone of the spine of the Catfish.
  • Place a finger adjacent to this spot and make an incision from the top.
  • Without removing the knife from the flesh, run it through the spine of the Catfish.
  • You will have a decent piece of meat right away.

Step 3:

Drop the remaining Catfish in an ice cooler so you can work on the freshly cut piece of meat. Clamp one end of the cut on the clamp and scrape off the meat leaving the skin behind. Place the fillet knife at an angle, so the meat comes off effortlessly.

Some people prefer to skin a Catfish before cutting it, but it can lead to wastage of meat.

Step 4:

Drop the skinless meat in the ice cooler. Now you have successfully cleaned and cut a Catfish fillet. You can cut the other half of the Catfish right away or whenever you need the meat next. It is always good to preserve the fish with the skin on.

Also Check:


The method mentioned above does not require you to cut the fish entirely in one go. Although, you could if you are planning to consume the whole Catfish. Before stringing the remaining Catfish in an ice cooler, you can gut it and remove excess blood or other fluids. If you are planning to store the fish for more than a day, make sure you have a thermoelectric cooler in your arsenal.

Last Updated on December 4th, 2020

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *