How to Clean Fish & Remove Blood

How to Clean Fish & Remove Blood
Unless you plan on releasing your catches back into the water while fishing, you'll need to know how to clean a fish. Removing the blood is only one part of this process and ensures that you won't have blood and fish entrails on your hands and clothing. While fish come in a variety of species and sizes, you only need a few knives to clean fish and remove blood.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Dull knife
  • Sharp knife
  • Pliers
Step 1
Fill a bucket with cool water and dunk your fish inside. Rub the scales gently with your hands while holding the fish under the water. This removes any gunk or debris trapped on the fish, including algae. If the fish has blood on its body from the hook, rinsing it will remove the blood.
Step 2
Place the fish flat and lift the tail towards you. Press a dull knife against the tail of the fish and push it forward toward the head. Use a short and fast motion to descale the fish. When you push against the fish with the knife, the scales should easily pop off. Then dunk the fish in fresh water to remove any excess scales.
Step 3
Insert your sharp knife into the vent, which is the anus of the fish and located next to the tail. Move the knife down toward the head, to cut open the fish. Stick your thumb into the cavity of the fish and remove the entrails and guts. Then rinse the fish again with cool water.
Step 4
Cut the dorsal fin from the fish, which is also known as the top fin because it's the fin on top of the fish. Cut a small notch on the head side of the dorsal fin and then cut another notch on the tail side. Remove the dorsal fin by applying pressure with a pair of pliers and pulling upward.
Step 5
Slice the head of the fish off by inserting your knife into the corner of the jaw, near the top of the fish's head. Keep one hand on the fish's head while you slide the knife toward the mouth. Remove the knife, insert it into the other side of the fish jaw and push down to the mouth. The head should then pull off easily.

Tips & Warnings

Always exercise caution when using sharp knives. If you find that the fish is slightly oily or slimy from the water, consider wearing a pair of gloves to add some traction.

Article Written By Jennifer Eblin

Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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