How to Clean and Prepare a Catfish

raw fish catfish on the kitchen board

Catfish are very hearty fish that have tough skin. However, once they are cleaned, prepared and cooked, they make for a tasty meal that is a staple in any Southern household. Although there are plenty of ways to skin a cat(fish), this is a quick and easy method that’ll have you licking your fingers when you’re done!

Cleaning the Catfish

Materials You’ll Need

  • pair of pliers
  • some rope
  • a large knife
  • a fillet knife
Photo courtesy of 360DigiTour.

Skin the Body

Carefully cut around the body of the fish, up to behind the gills. Be sure not to make this a deep cut as you are trying to remove this portion from the meat.

Next, you need to gut the fish. Be careful not to puncture any of the fish organs.

Then you will need to remove all of the fish fins at the base. You will need to use your pliers to hold on to the fins while you are cutting.

Hang the Fish

Hang your fish by the gills from anything suitable, like a tree branch, using the rope. Cut the skin down the center of the fish’s back.

Pull Off the Skin

Pull the skin of the catfish off using the pliers from the head down. This can be a bit tricky; however, practice will help improve your skinning skills.

Remove Skin to Tail

Remove the catfish’s skin down to its tail.

Cut the tail off if it does not already have it removed.

Also, cut off the head using the large knife that you gathered with the rest of the materials.

Fillet the Catfish

Fillet your fish from the tail on up.

Cut along the fish’s backbone until you reach its ribs. Cut from the top, then down, beside the spine. Let the edge of the knife follow along the ribs.

Preparing the Catfish

Prepare your fish to eat. When you have both of the sides filleted, the sky is the limit on how you can season and cook the fish.


  • 2/3 Cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ Cup of Flour
  • ½ tsp. of Salt
  • ¼ tsp. of Pepper
  • 1 tsp. of Paprika
  • 1 Egg – Beaten
  • ¼ Cup of Milk
  • 5-6 Catfish Fillets
  • ¼ Cup of Butter


  1. Mix the cheese, salt, flour, pepper and the paprika in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a different bowl, combine the milk and the egg.
  3. Dip catfish fillets in the wet mixture, and then dredge it through the flour mixture.
  4. Put the fillets in a lightly oiled baking dish.
  5. Drizzle the butter on.
  6. Bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until the fish is flaky.

And if you want tips on the best ways to catch many catfish in an efficient manner, check out the article on Trotline Fishing: Fill Your Freezer.

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