How to Clean a Catfish

The Proper Way to Clean a Catfish

Learning how to clean a catfish isn’t as hard as some people make it out to be. Once you figure out how easy cleaning a catfish is, you’ll never throw a catfish you’ve caught back in the water again. Catfish are one of the tastiest fresh water fishes to eat, and catfish meat keeps well in the freezer until you have enough fish fillets to have a big catfish meal.

Here’s a 10-Step Guide to Cleaning Catfish. This will teach you how to clean a catfish in just a couple of minutes, and open up a whole new world of fresh-water fishing to you.

  1. Find the Adipose Fin – Locate the adipose fin on the back of the catfish. You’ll find this fin where the tail of the catfish begins. It will be one of only two fins on the top of the catfish, and the only one near the rear.
  2. Cut Behind the Adipose Fin – Make an incision at the adipose fin. Continue this cut along the back of the fish all the way until you reach the dorsal fin of the catfish. The dorsal fin is found just behind the head of the catfish.
  3. Slice Downwards – Keep you knife in the fish at the dorsal fin. Slice downward, cutting deep into the fish right behind its head. Cut deep enough to reach the fish’s backbone. When you have done this, remove your knife.
  4. Break the Backbone – Put the knife down. Grab the fish in one hand. Use the other hand to break the backbone of the fish. Be careful not to rip the fish’s entire head off. Your purpose is to keep the fish intact, but to make certain the backbone won’t make catfish cleaning more difficult.
  5. Insert Finger Into the Rib Cage – Insert the index finger of the hand holding the catfish into your incision, placing your finger in the rib cage. This should produce a tight grip of the catfish’s body.
  6. Pull of Head and Skin – With your other hand, begin to pull the head of the fish towards its tail. This should begin to detach from the fish, pulling the fish’s skin along with it. In effect, you are peeling the skin off the catfish in one movement. Go slowly and you’ll be able to peel the entire skin off in one movement.
  7. Make a Fillet Cut – Lay the fish on its side and insert your knife to make a fillet cut. Slice into the fish from the top down to the backbone. Angle your knife and begin slicing along the catfish’s meat to separate the meat portion from the bone of the fish. This should produce a fillet from one-half of the catfish.
  8. Make Another Fillet Cut – Flip the catfish onto its other side. Repeat the same step as Step #7, which should produce a second boneless catfish fillet.
  9. Inspect the Fish for Bones – Once you have both catfish fillet’s cut from the fish skeleton, inspect both fish fillets carefully. Catfish bone can be pointy and a little hard to see due to its thinness, so carefully check the fish over to find and remove any bones from the fillets. Most of this should be done in the process of filleting the fish.
  10. Dispose of Every Other Fish Part – Everything besides the two catfish fillets should be thrown away. Throw the catfish remains in the water if you’re still waterside, to give the other fish a meal.

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