Fishing & Hunting Tips

How to fillet a catfish

Filleting a catfish is considered as a daunting task because of its tough and slippery skin. A big catfish can be good enough for your family if you fillet it in a proper way without wasting any useful part of it!

There are several methods to fillet a catfish, but I’m going to share the way that I do it and which actually retains all the meat from it. So let’s get started, folks.


Cleaning the fish

It’s important to clean the fish properly before filleting it. After cleaning with fresh water, you will notice that the fish s still slippery which might be a hassall for you while you filleting the catfish.

It’s because of the slime in it, you have to remove all the slime from it using your sharp knife. Just rub the skin with your knife and then remove all the slime with your fillet knife.

Water is not gonna help removing the slime, so if you try to remove the slime with water, it results in the same.


Equipments you need :

  1. Sharp fillet knife or electric knife
  2. Kevlar Glove
  3. Cutting board
  4. Plier (additional)
  5. Antibacterial soap (additional)

The whole job is much easier with a sharp electric fillet knife, but if it’s not available then a sharp fillet knife will do it perfectly, no worries!

If you are not so much used to cutting a catfish, then you should must use a kevlar glove. That’s gonna save you from cutting your fingers, cause you know already know that filleting a catfish is one of the toughest job.

This is maybe an additional part but we all should maintain it before filleting anything. Use an antibacterial soap to your knife and cut board to stay free from millions of germs.

The antibacterial soap doesn’t work instantly so always wash the knife and cut board after every single use, that will make the job done!

Maybe the kids are going to enjoy a catfish burger or nuggets and you don’t want them to digest germs or harmful microorganisms instead of fresh catfish meat, do you!


Now let’s see the way to fillet a catfish, you will find the picture down below!

How to fillet a catfish (Step by step) :

  • Make sure the fish is fresh but dead, many guys cut it alive because of freshness but I really don’t support it because I found it really inhuman cutting the meat from a live fish. But don’t delay too much, if necessary preserve the fish in the ice bucket.
  • Catfish has a really tough skin almost like a leather and strong bones, so you need a very tight grip and powerful cut with a really sharp knife. Hold its head section wearing a glove and find where the meat starts and head stops.
  • Next, cut it from that point behind the gills, don’t puncture the organs down there in the belly cause if you do, it won’t affect the taste but it will go nasty.
  • Follow the spine of the fish with the knife, when you past the rib cage push the knife all way through, down pressure one the backbone and cut it all way to the tail.
  • Now you can gently work on that ribs, peal the meat from it with gentle steps.
  • Same procedure on the other side, follow the lateral line and once you past the rib cage cut it all the way to the tail and then gently peel the meat from the rib with slow knife strokes ( try to avoid the organs from touching the knife).
  • Now if your knife is really sharp enough then it will come handy removing the skin, but if it’s not that sharp you can use a plier to pull that skin from the fish.
  • Grab the tail with the glove hand and then cut from here, down pressure with the knife and all the way to the top
  • If you want to to use the plier, cut a part of the skin and then grab it with a plier, hold the meat and fold gently to separate the skin from the meat.
  • There’s some meat in the head. Only larger( 5-10 pounds ) fish has that meat in the cheek. You can collect that meat from the cheek by simply cutting it from there. A personal opinion, it’s really tasty!

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That’s how you are going to fillet a catfish. The more it tastes, the more complex it comes to prepare. But if you follow those steps, it won’t be that hard to doing it.

Many people ask some questions frequently like …

  • Is it important to take the skin off?
    • Ans : Not at all, you can keep the skin. In Fact it’s really tasty and healthy. You should definitely try it.
  • What if i puncture the organs ? Does that ruins the fish totally? Does it tastes really bad?
    • Ans : No, it doesn’t. It won’t has any affect on the taste, it will be a bit messier if you puncture the puncture the stomach, intestines, or any other internal organs. That’s it!
  • How to freeze it properly
    • Put the freshly cut meat in a ziplock bag
    • Fill the bag with water
    • Add one spoon of lemon juice and then mix it well
    • Remove the air from the bag squeezing it
    • Zip the bag

I hope you got all your answers. There are a lot of dishes you can prepare with a catfish. Curry, frying, burger, nuggets you name it! Explore new dishes with a freshly caught catfish and enjoy your dinner. Looking forward to hearing from you folks.


Nicholi Wyto

Hey I'm Nicholi Wyto is a professional sports fisherman and hunter, love to enjoy spending time in Michigan’s rugged northern forests. I love to explore my experience and help others who are interested in fishing and hunting.

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