How To Clean A Catfish
A nice catfish caught by Vicki Wynn - courtesy Crappie Gills 'N More.
Kentucky boasts around 18 species of catfish, making it a very popular catch for anglers on Kentucky Lake. While not all species are available in the lakes of Western Kentucky, just about every variety is easily identified by its barbels or “whiskers” and its scale-less body.
The dorsal and pectoral fins are quite stout and, if not handled properly, can inflict painful wounds on novice fisherman. So, for those new to the sport of fishing, here is an easy-to-follow guide for how to properly clean a catfish.
8 Simple Steps to Clean a Catfish
Tools you'll need:
- Flat board
- Scissors or sharp knife
#1: Secure the fish.
It's easiest to get the process started by placing the fish on a flat board. You can drive a nail into the head of the catfish to secure it to the board. However, some anglers prefer not to do that, but rather transfer the catfish to a nearby tree. They then nail the head to the tree so that it is secure.
#2: Remove the dorsal fin.
You can do this with scissors or a sharp knife.
#3: Find the head bone.
Locate the place on the catfish where the head bone ends.
#4: Cut the fish along the line of the head bone.
Cut diagonal incisions along that line on both sides of the fish.
#5: Skin the fish.
After making your incisions, use the pliers to grip the skin and pull the skin down. It should remove it from the body of the fish, without removing the meat. The older the fish, the more tough the skin will be. Therefore, work patiently to remove the skin.
#6: Cut the catfish meat.
Now that the skin is removed you can cut the meat from the fish along the spine.
#7: Discard the waste.
Next, you'll want to discard the head and entrails. Some people like to cook these, but either way, remove the waste.
#8: Filet the fish.
Now your fish is ready to be filleted!
An Advanced Method for Cleaning Catfish
There are a number of methods for cleaning a catfish, including a method used by more seasoned catfish anglers that involves using an electric knife or sharp blade to cut the skin away from the fish body without having to actually skin the catfish.
Fishing guide Steve McCadams says that “when done properly using an electric knife or sharp blade produces a beautiful piece of meat, free of bones. However, this method may require a little more skill and finesse.”
McCadams says that this method leaves anglers with a nice fillet, which includes a rib cage that can easily be removed with a small carving knife.
So, no matter which method you select, you’re bound to have delicious catfish meat to add to your next fish fry!
Fish Cleaning Video Tips
Here are a couple of YouTube videos you may find helpful.