How to easily fillet a fish


If you’re a boat lover, chances are fishing is in your blood too. Most anglers take pride in filleting their catch, but if you’re new to the game, or just want to hone your skills, we’ve blogged a step-by-step guide to help you out.

Before you get started, we recommend buying a quality filleting knife from Boating Camping and Fishing, or other angling stores.

Filleting the right way

Spending a little more time and effort during the cleaning phase will pay off when you’re settling down to enjoy your catch at mealtime.

For one thing, thorough cleaning means less bones, which will make your meal far more enjoyable, not to mention easy to eat.

Once you know how to fillet, you’ll find that pretty quickly you’re cleaning like a seasoned pro.

Skin versus scales

Unless you want to eat the skin, we recommend removing the skin of the fish completely. Of course, if you enjoy eating the skin, then you’ll need to scale it instead. We’ve included instructions for removing the skin below.

Filleting small fish

  1. Remove the head with a filleting knife, just behind the fish’s gills.
  2. Hold the tail of the fish to secure it.
  3. Point the blade away from you (to ensure you do not accidentally cut yourself), and position it across the fish’s body.
  4. Start cutting towards the head (where it used to be!).
  5. Use the backbone of the fish as a guide for the knife.
  6. When removing the skin, hold the fillet at the tail end, skin down.
  7. Make sure to hold the knife across the fillet. Insert it between the flesh and the skin. It’s okay if you don’t do it perfectly first time!
  8. Hold the skin and cut towards where the fish’s head was.
  9. Voila! You’ve filleted your first fish.

Filleting large fish

  1. When cleaning large fish, the method listed above can be somewhat awkward.
  2. With larger fish, it can be more effective to open it ‘like a book’.
  3. To do this, make a cut behind where the gills are located. It will have to be a deep cut about half the thickness of your catch.
  4. On the dorsal side (along the top of the fish), cut a slit a few inches long.
  5. Separate the bones from the flesh using just the tip of your knife. This will cause the fish to open like a book.
  6. When the fish is open, cut the fillet away by moving your knife down the ‘book’s spine.’

If you need a visual, check out this YouTube video by New Zealand Fishing World, which offers an easy step-by-step guide to filleting fish.

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Contact us today, and happy fishing!