Similar to hunting, fishing is another fascinating outdoor recreational activity. But how to fillet a fish you catch into those mouthwatering dishes you admire so much? You will need to clean up, gut, and fillet your big catch—the process of fish filleting simply means removing flesh from a fishbone smoothly in a streamlined manner.

For instance, where you aren’t ready to process the fish immediately, you need to store it frozen in ice until you’re fully prepared to start the preparation processes for cooking. Smaller sized fishes can be cooked wholly without going through the gutting and filleting processes, but larger fish species like salmons, walleye, and others are usually preferred filleted.

Filleting Fish Step By Step

Detailed instructions on the processes of filleting a fish are listed below. However, before the filleting itself, it is essential you also carry out these mandatory processes first.


Fish scaling involves removing or peeling-off scales (the hard slightly sharp coverings on the body of a saltwater fish) from the fish’s skin. There are specially designed tools available at every fishing equipment dealership to carry out this scaling task efficiently; they are called Fish scalers. Peradventure, there are no fish scalers available, a fish fillet knife or a sharp non-flexible kitchen knife can do just fine.  Also, follow all the necessary safety caution possible such as wearing a metal-mesh glove to protect against accidents.

When scaling, place your knife or fish scaler near the fish’s tail and slightly drag it upwards along the skin streamline up to the head region. Repeat the process continuously for as long as necessary until the whole scales are entirely off the fish body. Rinse in clean water to ensure it is scales-free. 


Gutting is one vital process in fish preparation; it involves removing all internal organs of the fish. You wouldn’t want to eat fish with all its internal organs,  blood, and feces. Gutting is relatively straightforward and doesn’t require too many tools.

To begin, you’ll need a sharp and non-flexible knife. Insert your knife’s tip into the anus of the fish located under its tail and cut through up to the head region, naturally because of the bones in the fish head, the knife will stop. Open up the abdominal cavity and pull out all the internal organs. Rinse in clean water.

Step By Step Guide on How to Fillet a Fish

Fillet knives are extraordinarily sharp and dangerous for children. You must handle them with precaution. Always make sure your fingers are behind the knife’s blade, and if there is slime and blood on your hands, wash them off to prevent the knife from slipping off.

  • Firstly, lay the fish on its side using a flat table and cut the fish carefully and steadily behind its pectoral fin and gills deep to its rib cage.
  • If you don’t want to cut its head, return the blade to cut the ribs’ surface, heading toward its tail using the backbone outline as a guide.
  • Insert the knife into the rib cavity and firmly slice the entire section. Next, tightly grip the tail region and insert your knife back in at about half an inch and cut between the meat and the skin in a sawing-like motion. Be careful not to slide off the meat, cut against the skin.
  • Rinse the fillets in clean water and allow to dry. Your fillets are now ready for seasoning and cooking or ice storage.

How to Fillet a Round Fish

  • Scale the fish if necessary, and gut it.
  • Cut through the skin along the fish’s back streamline towards the dorsal fin.
  • Insert your knife under its gills and run it through toward the tail along its bone outline.
  • Remove the fillets by cutting through the middle of the fish, separating it from the ribs. Cut firmly in a sawing-like motion.
  • Turn the fish to the other side and repeat the process. Remember to trim the skin off the fillets.
  • Rinse in clean water.


Just as we described earlier, filleting a fish is very easy to carry out if you do it the right way. Therefore, before filleting, always remember to scale the fish to make the job less messy and easygoing, this is because when scaling, the scales can fly all over your hands, table, and floor, making everywhere a mess for days. A professional fishmonger does the job efficiently. But you also can do the same if you follow all steps in this article.  

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