How to gut and clean a fish in 5 easy steps

Gutting and cleaning a fish doesn’t have to be a daunting task especially for beginners who have just started fishing. Today store-bought fish is so easily accessible, that we’ve never been given the chance to learn how to properly gut and clean a fish for eating.

But if we’re out fishing and get our hands on a good catch then we don’t have a butcher to do the dirty work for us. But not to worry, gutting and cleaning aren’t difficult once you get the hang of it.


Step 1 – Rinse fish with cold water

Firstly, before we get started we’ll rinse our fish in fresh cold water to remove any slime coating of the fish. This will make the fish a lot easier to work with.


Step 2 – Clip off the fins and tail

Once the fish has been thoroughly rinsed, with a sharp pair of scissors or knife we’ll remove the fins and tail. While removing the fins be very careful as they’re sharp and you can easily get pricked.

Removing the tail is a matter of preference and if you wish to keep this for presentation then you can do so.


Step 3 – Descale the fish

Using the back of a knife or a descaler we’ll begin by removing the scales of the fish. Work the knife until all scales have been removed.

A cautious warning, you can expect the scales to fly everywhere whilst descaling. Ideally, I like to do this outside to avoid creating a mess inside and cleaning scales of walls and on the floor.

(This step can be done before cutting off the fins and tail. Though to avoid getting pricked I recommend doing this afterward.)


Step 4 – Remove the guts

With a sharp filleting knife, we’ll make a cut underneath the belly starting from the vent to the bottom of the gills. Keep in mind we’re only trying to make a cut on the outside to take out the guts and not puncturing the fish’s stomach.

Once we’ve opened up the fish either with your hands or metal spoon remove and clean all the insides thoroughly.


Step 5 – Thoroughly wash and ready to be prepared

The final step before the fish is ready to be prepared. Underneath running cold water we’ll give the fish a good clean both on the outside and inside.

There you have it as easy as that your fish is now ready to be prepared however you wish!

12 thoughts to “How to gut and clean a fish in 5 easy steps”

  1. Who ever thought that gutting a fish will be this easy, it’s not a thing I’ve ever indulged myself in before but having read this post, I like that you can also add up with some images. I remember the first time I tried gutting fish,I sliced it through the mouth and made a very big mess in the house. Thank you for the step by step guide. Cheers!

    1. Hi Henderson,

      Thanks for taking the time providing some feedback and your first time gutting fish dosn’t sound to pleasant!

  2. Hey! Thanks for this guide and for providing step-by-step pictures as well! It really seems a lot easier than I previously imagined. There is really nothing better than fresh fish that you have just caught, and now knowing the process for cleaning them, it makes me eager to get out there and start fishing again! This was really a great how-to. Thanks for making it so clear!

    1. Hey Steve!

      That’s not a problem, I’m glad you guys are finding this post useful. Thank you for taking the time and leaving some feedback.



  3. Wow! Cleaning a fish seems relatively easy. Though I always give it to a friend of mine that we fish together to clean for me but then, he has left this area and as such, there’s need for me to clean my catch by myself. I like how you simplified the process with the use of images and it would ve much more easier to follow. Thanks for this helpful post. Bless you

    1. Hi Ramos,

      Thank you for leaving some positive feedback and I’m glad you find this post quite useful. I think now you won’t need your friend to help you clean your catch! 

      All the best,


  4. Hi Vinnie, thanks for this post. I love the very simple way you have  the processes involved in removing the gut of a fish and the introduction of pictures to explain the steps is really cool. My kids went camping and I know very well they can’t clean a fish. I’ll introduce this site to them so they can learn from it.

    1. Hi Chloe, 

      That’s awesome! Would love for you to share my site and of course thank you for the positive feedback.

  5. Wow, this is such a helpful article for those who don’t know how to gut and clean a fish. We always buy whole fish form shop and know as well how hard it is to guts and clean in the home if you don’t know how to do it. But in this article, you make everything very simple and clear. My sister lives in Australia and she always struggles on this matter, many times I explained to her but she never understood. Today I am going to share this article with her, I know she will definitely get this article helpful.

    1. Hi Nazmun,

      Once you get the hang of it I don’t think gutting and cleaning fish isn’t that hard after all. 

      Thank you for leaving some feedback and I’m glad you found my article useful 🙂

  6. Thanks for showing us the step by step process of cleaning a fish. I remember the last time I did it was during my high school days. This was taught in our Home Economics subject and it’s one activity you need to pass if you want to move forward to the cooking level. 

    I think gutting and cleaning a fish is one basic cooking skill that is often neglected or taken for granted because of the convenience offered by supermarkets and local grocery stores. I think it is still necessary for us to know these type of cooking and preparation skills especially if we have plans for recreational fishing or whichever’s related. By the way, I like how you presented your article with pictures. It’s easier to follow the procedure. 

    1. Hi MissusB,

      You’re absolutely right! I think because of the convince we often overlook learning how to gut and clean a fish ourselves. To be honest, once you do the process a few times you get used to it and it becomes a lot easier. 

      Thank you for taking the time and leaving some great feedback 🙂


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