How to Successfully Cut & Gut a Catfish

There are many kinds of fishes that can be filleted. Among them is the catfish, which has a wide range of uses for food and other purposes such as bait. With all of that in mind, this article works to provide readers with what they need to know about how to properly clean and fillet a catfish.

catfish laying on chopping board

Preparation

Proper preparation is going to go a long way toward awesome fillets, and if you follow a few simple guidelines, your fish fry is going to turn out a lot better.

Use Ice

Keep your cooler well stocked with ice, typically two times as much as fish. As water collects, don’t drain it! The experts from Yeti insist that the water helps inculcate the remaining ice, keeping the temperature as low as it can get.

You want bone-chilling, hand-numbing cold for the catfish you keep, as this will help them stay fresher longer, slow their metabolism to a crawl, and humanely kill them before cleaning.

Yes, catfish may survive for hours in a bucket or an unoccupied refrigerator, but so can harmful germs. Make sure to use ice.

Food Safety

You should also wash your hands and everything else you’ll use to clean your fish, such as your hands, in warm soapy water.

You can double-check this by combining one cup bleach in a gallon of water and using it to clean everything down before you begin. This diluted bleach cleaning solution will destroy any insects that may be hiding on your chopping board or knife, as well as any bacteria. It won’t burn your skin, but it will damage your clothing if allowed to dry.

Chopping Board

A large, professional-grade plastic cutting board is highly suggested.

Because they’re simple to maintain, light-weight, and have ample space to work on your fish without feeling claustrophobic, they’re an excellent investment. All of that adds up to a simpler procedure for you as well as a superior end result.

seasoned catfish raw

Use a Knife and Gloves

In general, you’ll want a soft, comfortable handle and a long, flexible, razor-sharp blade. I’d like to emphasize the importance of flexibility. No matter how sharp your knife is, it will have problems with a stiff one.

A sharp knife is a safe knife, but things can go wrong. Consider wearing a cut-proof Kevlar glove for extra protection. You’ll wish you had one the first time you stab your hand or slice a finger, and it’s far easier to do when working on a slippery catfish than you might think.


Easy Steps to Gut Your Catfish

Cutting Down Through the Spine

You should work the knife slowly and carefully down the spine while trimming along it. This should allow you to get your meat away from the bones.

According to experts who have already compared the boning knife and the filleting knife, utilizing a boning knife will aid in better results when removing the flesh from the bones.

To prevent bones from entering the fillet, make short strokes when cutting around the rib cage. To keep bones out of the fillet, work the whole rib cage length from the catfish head to the tail.

Push Your Knife Through the Belly

Next, place the knife between the fillet and the spine with your non-dominant hand. Push the knife through the fish until it comes out of its belly.

When the knife’s tip emerges after it has gone through the belly, slice the fillet very carefully.

Remove the Fillet

Using the non-dominant hand, grab the tail portion of the fish from between the ribs. Next, cut through the bottom fish part that is still linked to your fillet. Set aside the first fillet after you’ve removed it.

raw fillet catfish

Move the Fillet to the Other Side

After removing the first fillet, the whole filleting process shouldn’t be new to you. All you will have to do is flip your catfish and then repeat the process on the other side. To make sure that no bones are left on the fillet, work slowly and cautiously.

Washing the fillets is a simple operation if you use fresh, clean water. You can also use a hose sprayer to make your chores easier. Before trimming the skin and blanching the flesh of the fish, be sure to get all of the blood off of it.

When you’re washing meat, generally you’ll notice foam in the washer. Wash the fillets until no more foam appears.


FAQ

seasoned raw fillet catfish on board

What is the best way to get rid of a catfish’s slime?

There are a variety of methods to remove slime from a catfish before filleting it, including using a rough towel. Rub it with a cut-up lemon and boiling water.

What happens if the gut punctured?

You shouldn’t be concerned that the catfish flesh will make you ill because you have punctured the interior of the fish. Your meat, if properly cleaned, won’t taste terrible, even if it has been in contact with waste.

Is catfish poison lethal to humans?

Most catfish species use venom to protect themselves, and some in North America have a sting that can be quite painful. Some can even kill a fully grown man, just be careful when dealing with them.

Where should I not touch catfish?

The whiskers are not harmful, so you may touch them without worry. The dorsal and pectoral fins might deliver a significant sting. They’re located behind the head on either side of the fish, just above the forehead.

What type of knife should be used to fillet catfish?

Depending on your abilities, you may use an electric knife or a regular one. Just make sure the blade is sharp enough; otherwise, you could have a calamity on your hands. A dull knife may slip readily.

How can I tell that my catfish has spoiled?

Take a sniff and look at the fish. The fish will have a sour odor, be slimy to the touch, and appear duller in color than when you first caught it or bought it. That should be enough to tell you that it has gone bad.


Final Thoughts

It may feel like a long-winded process the first several times you fillet catfish, but it should become easier over time. With these tips and tricks, you can ensure that your catch is safe to eat and delicious! If you’re looking to elevate your fishing skills, go through our top catfish rods guide.

cooked catfish