How To Clean A Catfish

On a summer’s day, you can’t beat heading out on the boat for a day of fishing.

If you’re out fishing and catch a catfish, you might be curious to know: How do you clean a catfish?

In this article, I will provide you with some key information on catfish, including skinning and cleaning a catfish.

Let’s get into it.

Catching a catfish can be a satisfying achievement, but if you’ve never prepared a catfish, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

A Guide On How To Prepare A Catfish

Skin The Fish

Step One – Make Cuts Behind The Gills

To begin, you will first need to take a very sharp fillet knife and cut behind the catfish’s gills at a 45-degree angle towards its head, making sure that you’re only cutting ⅛ to ¼ inch deep.

Step Two – Cut Along The Catfish’s Spine

Begin at the base of the catfish’s head, and move the fillet knife down the length of the catfish’s spine, all the way to its tail.

When you reach the dorsal fin roughly in the middle of the catfish’s body, make sure that you cut around it, not straight through it.

Step Three – Slice The Skin Down The Center Of The Catfish

Once you have prepared your catfish, it is now time to thoroughly clean your catfish before you cook it.

Make a cut that is again ⅛ to ¼ inch deep along the catfish’s stomach, beginning at the cut you made at the head of the fish working your way down towards its tail.

Note: Be careful not to cut too deep, or you could end up puncturing through to the catfish’s internal organs.

Step Four – Make Vertical Cuts On Each Side Of The Catfish’s Tail

Next, you need to use your filet knife to make a 1814 inch (3.2–6.4 mm) deep vertical cut from the catfish’s spine to the belly. 

When making these cuts, you will need to make sure that these cuts should intersect with the previous two incisions.

Step Five – Use Pliers To Clamp Onto The Skin Just Below The Gills

Next, you will need to peel a part of the catfish’s skin back with your fingers. Once the skin has started to come away, grip it with your pliers, making sure that you have it gripped firmly.

Step Six – Peel The Skin Back  

Once you’ve got a firm grip of the skin, steady the fish by holding its head firmly against your chopping board and peel the skin back in one motion.

When it comes to removing the skin from your catfish’s head, you will need to make sure that you slowly remove it so that it remains in one piece.

Remove The Catfish’s Innards 

Step One – Twist The Head Off

To remove the innards, you first need to bend the catfish’s head back towards the spine to break its neck, return its head to the neutral position and twist.

As you twist, pull the catfish’s head away from its body. Alternatively, you can remove the head with a sharp knife.

Step Two – Remove The Tail And Fins 

Next, grab your fillet knife and remove the tail and fins. You will need to make sure that you cut the fin at the base to ensure that you remove it entirely.

To remove the dorsal fin, make a ½ inch incision around it and then use your pliers to put it out.

Step Three – Remove The Fish’s Stomach And Entrails 

Following this, you will need to make a slit alongside the catfish’s stomach.

Once you’ve made the incision, you will need to run your fingers through the insides and remove the internal organs. 

A Guide On How To Clean A Catfish 

Step One – Place Your Fish Under The Cold Tap

Once you have scooped out the internal organs of the catfish, it’s finally time to thoroughly clean the fish. Begin by running the cold tap and wash the exterior of the flesh.

Step Two – Wash The Interior Of The Fish

Next, you will need to open the pocket that you’ve just made in the catfish’s stomach, and make sure that you thoroughly clean the inside to remove any bloody residue.

Note: It’s essential that you only use cold water for this step, as warm or hot water could begin to slowly cook the fish.

Step Three – Pat The Fish Dry 

Once you have thoroughly cleaned the interior and exterior of the fish, it’s time to pat the fish dry with a clean dish cloth or a paper towel.

Cut The Fillets 

Step One – Cut Along The Spine

With your fish on your chopping board, use short strokes with your fillet knife to cut along the spine to remove the meat from the fishbones.

You will need to work your way down the rib cage from the head to the tail.

Step Two – Place The Knife Into The Stomach And Cut Towards The Tail

Next, you will need to place your fillet knife back into the stomach of the fish and push until the knife comes out the other side. Begin cutting towards the tail.

Step Three – Cut Back Towards The Front Of The Fish

To remove the fillet, you will need to cut back towards the fish. Lift the tail portion up, and continue cutting until the fillet comes away. This is your first fillet.

Step Four – Repeat The Process

To get two fillets, repeat the same process on the other side of the fish.

Step Five – Clean And Dry Both Fillets

Last but by no means least, run the two fillets under cold water once again.

Pat dry with a paper towel, and you have prepared and cleaned your catfish!

Tips When Preparing Catfish

Never Touch The Barbs – Make sure that you don’t touch the barbs on the ends of the pectoral fins (found on the sides of the fish) or the dorsal fin (found on top of the fish). These sharp barbs have the potential to puncture your skin and may contain toxins.

Always Cut Away From You – Catfish have quite tough skin, and you might struggle to skin them the first few times you try. However, you should always make sure that you are cutting away from you when it comes to using sharp knives. This will minimize the risk of you cutting or injuring yourself.

In Summary 

So, there you have it! Hopefully after reading this article you know how to prepare and clean a catfish.

George Alexander
Latest posts by George Alexander (see all)
%d bloggers like this: