How to Clean a Catfish Quickly – Best Ways For Beginners

Catfish is a delicacy in many countries and is considered a classy dish. However, cleaning Catfish is not a simple chore. Unless you clean Catfish, this task can become a real problem. In this article, we will give you a step-by-step guide on how to clean a Catfish in the easiest way possible.

how to clean a catfish

How to Clean a Catfish Skin

To clean a catfish’s skin, dividing Catfish into two categories is reasonable.

  • Method for small size fish
  • Method for large size fish

Clean a Catfish Skin – Small Size Fish

Cleaning a catfish skin for small-sized fish is relatively easy and short. First, you will cut the catfish just below the fins of the dorsal side, where the spinal cord of the Catfish lies. You will make this cut almost 1 inch deep and 3 inch long on both the right and left sides of the fish.

However, use a floating filet knife to make cuts sharp and smooth. After doing these cuts, you will take the skinner plier in your hand and pull the skin from both sides of the cuts simultaneously with the help of this catfish skinner. Then, try to remove the skin towards the tail in one stretch. In this way, you will clean catfish skin in no time.

Clean a Catfish – Large Size Fish

Cleaning a giant catfish with stubborn skin is nothing problematic at all. You will follow these simple steps, and in the end, you will be a master at cleaning catfish skin.

Step 1

  • Take a wooden board to place a giant catfish on it.
  • Take two knives with you—one for scaling and gutting catfish and the other for filet catfish.
  • Place the catfish straight on the wooden board while having its face on your left side and tail on the right side. THen hold the head of the Catfish with the thumb and index finger of your left hand and take the knife in the other hand.
  • Start making a precise horizontal cut with a sharp filet knife near the gills. Take your knife in your hand at an angle of 30 degrees and begin to cut ½ inch. When you cut long enough to put your finger inside, then try to open both sides of the fish just like a zip with your fingers while keep moving your knife towards its tail. This method will keep the spine and bones of Catfish safe from any cut.

Step 2

  • Then take a sharp knife with a slim blade and pass it from top to bottom near the gills where you started to cut. You will give the knife near the rib cage and run down the knife from the starting point to the tail. However, this cut should be close to the spinal cord but not hurt it. The fish is divided into two parts but still joins with the head. Now you will make a triangular vertical cut near the gills.
  • After that, take a plier in your hand, hold skin from the vertical scratch, and pull it firmly towards the tail.
  • Cut the end of the bottom from the part where you clean catfish skin and cut this piece from the shoulder of the fish as well.
  • In this way, you will have neat catfish filets with no skin at all.
  • A v-shaped piece will be left on the belly part near the anus. It is the best meat as well as the most toxin lies here. So you can remove it and cut off the head if you don’t want it.

How to Clean a Catfish Without Skinning

Some people think it is unwise to clean catfish skin for those who want to filet a catfish without skinning. Here is a very simple and step by step process to guide them

  • First of all, take a sharp knife with a slim blade.
  • After selecting the right knife, rip the belly of your Catfish open from the anal vent to between the gills. Make a deep cut to the fish’s gut and later on remove the intestine and gills out of the belly.
  • With the help of your thumbnail, remove the dark red gunk near its kidney. After that, wash fish in freshwater. That’s all about how to clean a Catfish for frying or baking.

How to Clean a Catfish with Lemon

Well, we have thoroughly discussed the method of cleaning Catfish with skinning and without skinning. But to your surprise, you can clean your Catfish with salt and lemon. So let’s start to clean your Catfish for your soup, stew, and BBQ.

Firstly, Make a deep horizontal extended cut on the lower side of the belly to take out all removable material.

Simple household Method:

Simple ingredients, an integral part of every kitchen, will surely make your day with a delicious catfish. Because you only need water, lemon, and an adequate amount of salt here.

  • First, pour some water in your washing basin and some salt and squeeze a big oval lemon in this.
  • This method is beneficial to get rid of the slime, which is undoubtedly in excess on catfish skin. Although this slime does not threaten health, it gives a smooth taste if you eat catfish. So better to remove this slime first.
  • After making a dilute mixture of water, lemon and salt, put your Catfish in the utensil for a while. After that, rub the lemon on fish skin just like a scrub. If you have sharp scissors with you, then take them to cut the fins and tail of the catfish.
  • After that, with a sharp knife, give a nice thorough rubbing to the skin of your Catfish for a few minutes until all dark parts are removed gradually.


When the rubbing is done nicely, you will see a silver color of your Catfish. The silver color is an indication that catfish are thoroughly clean now. After that, rinse it well with the water. You can grill it now or make a soup or whatever you want.

Also check best baitcasting reels for catfish so that you can catch catfish efficiently if you like to go on a hunt.

How to Fillet a Catfish (6 Steps Only)

Step 1:

Clean the Catfish by removing as much slime as possible. Then, make numerous passes over the fish with a burlap bag or other rough material, rubbing the fish from top to bottom. As a result, the fish will be easier to handle, and you’ll be able to get a firm grip on it while you fillet it.

Step 2:

You’ll want to start cutting from the adipose fin, so place the Catfish on a clean work area. As you make your approach to the dorsal fin, stay upright. Toward the front of the head, you’ll discover a large chunk of flesh that must be chopped around.

Step 3:

Make the third incision, but do not go through the ribs. Again, make sure no internal organs are ruptured.

Step 4:

An incision should be made at the bottom of the tail fin using the point of the fillet knife. Then, above the tail, where the fillet terminates, make a horizontal cut.

Step 5:

Remove the loose fillet by making numerous incisions beneath it with a broad, sharp knife. Don’t rush through the cutting process. You may wind up with less meat if you rush through the passes. Remove any excess fat from the borders.

Step 6:

Using a sharp knife, skin the fillets. Next, pin the skin down with another knife and then slip a second knife between the skin and flesh to remove it off the bone. You may need to use your hands to remove the skin.

How to Clean a Catfish with Vinegar

The outer flesh of Catfish has a considerable amount of slime, giving a dirty look. Therefore it is appropriate to clean Catfish thoroughly. For this purpose, vinegar can do wonders. You can dip Catfish in plenty of vinegar and later on rinse it thoroughly with water, and now fish is ready to cook, BBQ and roast.

How to Clean a Catfish with Salt

  • Another very traditional way to clean a catfish is here. It would help if you gave a deep cut on the lower side of the belly and removed the intestine and gills from its stomach.
  • Cut off fins and tail and head if you do not want it.
  • After that, cut Catfish into small pieces and sprinkle plenty of coarse salt on it.
  • After some time, wash it thoroughly with water. Take a large sponge to rub fish slime. Rub it until the skin looks silver. Now Catfish is ready to cook in either way you like.

Ending Note

Catfish are a common fish that you can catch in rivers and streams throughout North America and worldwide. Every breed has a different size and taste. They are versatile fish that is delicious and can be prepared in many different ways.

As you are cleaning your Catfish, be sure to remove all of the scales. Moreover, its fins are very hard and can hurt you even if the Catfish is not alive. Therefore it is a very genuine concern how to clean a Catfish.

An excellent way to clean is to use a pair of kitchen shears to cut along the top of the fish, then pull the scales out of the fish with a pair of pliers. You can also remove the guts from the fish by cutting right below the head then pulling out the guts with your hands. Hopefully, this article will help you clean a catfish in no time.

Leave a Comment