Some people make the task of cleaning catfish much more difficult than it needs to be. Even when dealing with a very large fish, the task of cleaning them can be made quite simple by using the proper techniques. If you are having a tough time catching a catfish then I recommend trying some of the effective catfish bait ideas that I have personally tried and tested.

Steps to properly clean & cook the catfish

Step 1. Drain the Blood

Hang the catfish upside down by the hook or rope and cut off the tail, this will drain out all the blood inside the catfish. Leave them hanging in that position for 30 minutes so that all the blood gets drained from the body and we have good white catfish meat left inside.

Make sure the catfish is dead before cutting off the tail.

Draining the catfish blood also cleans them from inside and removes all toxins from their body.

Step 2. Skin the Catfish

There are two fins on a catfish. The one that you want to start with is the one that is NOT by the head. This is called the adipose fin. Once you located that fin, insert your fillet knife directly behind it. Cut one long strip all the way up to the other fin, called a dorsal fin.

Move your knife so that instead of cutting along the body, it will cut down into the body. Move the knife deep into the fish, but not enough as to completely remove the head. In fact, you want the head to still be firmly attached to the skin as this becomes important in one of the following steps.

The next step is to break the backbone. You can do this by holding the body of the fish with one hand and the head with the other. Bend until you hear the backbone break.

Now, you should insert your finger into the fish and latch onto the backbone. The point of this is to increase the strength of your grip. Now, grab the head and pull towards the tail. Because the skin is still firmly attached to the head, this movement should pull the skin off, revealing the meat.

Pull slowly. If done correctly, this one movement should remove all of the skin from the catfish.

Step 3. Fillet the Catfish

Angle your knife and insert it until you hit bone. Then, slice along the entire side of the catfish. This should produce one solid piece of catfish. Flip the fish over and repeat on the other side.

Of course, it is very important to check the catfish fillets very carefully for bones. Remember, these bones can be quite small and sharp. They make an unpleasant surprise to the person who is eating the fillet.

The rest of the fish is waste and should not be consumed.

Cut the extracted meat in small or long portions depending on the type of dish you plan to make and start cooking.

We are done with the process of cleaning catfish.

Step 4. Pan Fry the Catfish

There are over a hundred catfish recipes in the world but mine is still the same old pan-fried catfish. This is the simplest catfish recipe but also the tastiest one.

  • Season the catfish meat with herbs and spices of your choice
  • Add butter or olive oil to the pan and let it melt
  • Once the pan is hot add the seasoned catfish meat to the pan
  • Flip the meat to ensure both sides are golden brown, once reach desired natural golden color take them out.
  • Plate it. Bon-Appetit.


As you can see, cleaning catfish is far less difficult than some make it out to be. With the right technique and, perhaps, a little practice, you will be able to clean catfish in minutes. Many people clean their catfish right on the boat or shore while they are still fishing.

There are other popular methods of cleaning a catfish. Some people nail the fish to a tree or to a board as they feel it makes it easier to remove the skin, which is quite tough. That step is not necessary if you follow the advice above.

The most important thing to remember when cleaning catfish is to be SURE the fish is dead before beginning. You can be hurt trying to clean a live fish, not to mention the fact that trying to do so is inhumane.

Once your catfish is cleaned, you will have some of the best tasting freshwater fish on the planet. Enjoy!

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 13

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?