Fillet Fish How to

How to Fillet and Clean a Fish

Yay you caught a fish! Well done Indiana Jones, now you can really impress your camp buddies by cleaning it and serving it for dinner. It’s easy, just take your time and work carefully and you will master this great life skill in no time.

What you need:

  • Fillet knife (make sure that this is super sharp)
  • Cutting board
  • Fish
  • Bowl of cold water

Remove the scales first. Hold the fish by the tail and, with the back of your knife, scrape from the tail to the head. The scales should fly off.

Lay the fish flat on the cutting board with its spine facing you. Locate the pectoral fin just above the gills. Hold the knife at a 45 degree angle, next to the pectoral fin, with the bottom tilted towards the fish’s head. Make a single cut down across the width of the fish from spine to belly. Cut down to the spine, but not thorough it.

Now angle the knife the other way and slice down the length of the fish from gill to tail so you have one solid fillet. Repeat on the other side for your second fillet. Rinse the fish in the cold water.

How to Clean a Fish

If you want to cook the whole fish, it’s easier to clean. Remove the scales first. Hold the fish by the tail and, with the back of your knife, scrape from the tail to the head. The scales should fly off.

Cut off the pectoral fins using two 45 degree cuts on both sides of the fin.

Lay the fish on its side with the belly facing you. Lay one hand on the top of the fish and then cut through the middle of the belly from the gills to the tail. Reach in and remove the innards.

Wash the whole fish and cavity with cold water.

Note: Be responsible when discarding scales and innards. Dig a whole to bury them and ensure that you don’t create a mess in the campsite that the next campers have to deal with.

Wildlife may also be attracted to the smell of fresh fish, so discard bits you don’t want away from your campsite.

Now that you’ve cleaned and fillet your fish, here’s a recipe for the campfire:

Helpful guides, recipes and scary campfire stories can all be found in our wonderful camping cookbook. Get your copy of the Flaming Marshmallow’s Guide to Campfire Cooking.


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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2 thoughts on “How to Fillet and Clean a Fish

  1. Jacki

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  2. Pingback: Campfire Fish and Chip Recipe is off the HOOK!

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