Method Mastery: How To Fillet Every Fish


After a great day of fishing, you must then get your fish ready for a fulfilling meal. It is important to keep your fish properly stored and cold until you are ready to prepare them, and filleting your fish is one of the best ways to get them ready for your next recipe. So what is the best way to fillet a fish? Let’s go over the steps you will need to become a master at filleting!

Fillet Knife and Preparing the Fish 

The great thing about a filleted fish is that it does not have any skin or bones when you go to cook it. Scaling it is also not necessary. The best tool to fillet a fish is a fillet knife, as these have a very long, thin blade that is extremely sharp and designed for this task. Be very careful with these knives, and an adult should always supervise any younger anglers when they are using one. Always try to keep your hands behind the blade and be careful. 

food collage of various fresh meat, chicken and fish, top view

Step One: Insert Knife and Begin Fillet

To start, lay your fish on its side on a clean, flat surface. Next, cut the fish behind its gills and pectoral fin down to the rib cage. You do not have to scale or remove the head when filleting. You can choose to remove the head at this point, but it is not necessary in order to fillet a fish. Now turn the blade towards the tail and slowly and carefully cut along the top of the ribs. Use the fish’s backbone as a guide for your knife, and cut down the length of the entire fish. Turn the fish over and repeat this on the other side.

Step Two: Cutting and Removing Fillets

The next step involves inserting your knife close to the rib bones and slicing the whole rib section of each fillet away from the body. With the skin side down, insert your blade around half an inch from the tail. Grip the tail firmly, and place the blade between the skin and the meat at an angle. Using this pressure, start cutting against the skin. This will remove the fillet from the skin. With each fillet now done, wash it in cold water to remove any scales or debris and dry with a cloth or paper towel. They are now ready to freeze for storage or to start cooking with!

Final Thoughts

Filleting a fish is a great skill to master, and can make preparing your fish for dinner much easier. While a little tricky at first, it is easy to learn and will provide you with all of the best meat from a fish with almost zero other prep work necessary!

For more great ideas on how to fish and hunt from the experts, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Hunting & Fishing Blog for more great tips & tricks.