Your Complete Guide to Cleaning a Fish

The details might get a little messy, so if blood and guts aren’t your thing then you should quit while you’re ahead and go to North Beach Fish Camp! Our chefs take care of the cleaning and cooking, all you’ll have to do is eat the yummy seafood on the plate in front of you. Now that the disclosure is out of the way, it’s time to talk about the dirty (but easy!) details of cleaning a fish.


Step 1: Lie your fresh catch on a cutting board and grab your sharpest paring knife. Start your first slice in the fish’s stomach above the anal opening, slowly moving the blade through the belly to the head. Be sure you maintain a shallow cut as to not puncture the intestines.


Step 2: Now that you’ve butterflied the body, gently pull it open and remove the innards. Swallow your reservations and cut out the anus in a “V” shape. If you see a kidney near the backbone, scrape it out with a spoon.


Step 3: Rinse the skin and any leftover insides with cool water. Be sure to scrape out all leftover tissue in the abdominal cavity.


Step 4: Depending on how you plan to cook the fish, now’s the time to remove the head. Some fish, like trout, are often cooked with the head on. If you decide to remove the fish head, find a large, sharp knife and perform one clean cut.


Step 5: Throw all of the scales, guts and heads in the trash. Cook the fish according to the recipe you have in mind.




  • Do some research on the area where you’re fishing to make sure the fish are safe to eat and the water isn’t contaminated.
  • Check your state fishing laws for any possible regulations.
  • Not every fish you catch is edible. Some are too boney or have an undesirable taste.
  • Depending on the fish, the fins could easily cut your skin and cause a serious injury. Use proper gloves if necessary.
  • If you’re holding the fish by its head while cleaning, be aware of any sharp teeth that may cut you.


See, super easy. We do this kind of thing every single day at North Beach Fish Camp, so we’ve got the process down to a science. Not only are the great chefs at the Fish Camp great at prepping the fish, they’re also pretty dang good at cooking it. Here are a few of our favorite recipes you should definitely try next time you join us for lunch or dinner:


Grilled Salmon with Horseradish Hollandaise, Steamed Spinach, Parsley New Potatoes


Cast Iron Seared Brook Trout with Arugula, Bacon, Crushed New Potatoes, Deviled Egg Sauce


Seared Yellow Fin Tuna with Toasted Sesame Salad


Pan Fried Fish Sandwich with Tartar Sauce, French Fries & Turnip Slaw


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