How to Clean Your Fresh Catch

How to Clean Your Fresh Catch

Summer is almost here and that means it is time to pull out the tackle box, purchase your fishing permit, spool up your reel and head to Oak Island for some of the best fishing on the North Carolina coast. A lot of folks like to fish, but aren't as keen on cleaning their catch (or perhaps they just don't know how to clean their fish). This week we have five great tips on how to clean your fresh caught Oak Island fish. 

Equipment is critical 

Cleaning your fish is not a particularly hard task, but not having the right equipment will make it more complicated. The two most important items you need are a sharp fish filet knife and a pair of mesh gloves. It is critical that you keep your knife sharp (surprisingly, sharp knives are safer than dull knives). The mesh gloves will offer protection from knife cuts, especially if you are new to the art of filleting fish.  


If you are new to fishing remember that fish is extremely perishable and can spoil quickly, especially in the summer heat of Oak Island. One of the easiest ways to prevent fish from spoiling is to bleed the fish immediately. Packing the cavity of the fish with ice is a great way to ensure it stays fresh on the ride to shore. Remember to avoid puncturing the organs and intestines which can introduce bacteria into the fish. 

The basics of cleaning

Cleaning fish is easier than you might think. With a few simple tricks you'll be cleaning fish like a pro. 

First place your knife in the anal orifice and cut along the belly. Next open the fish and scoop out the organs and intestines. When removing the kidneys use a dull knife of spoon to free them from the backbone. After this is complete the removal of the anal area and use clean water to wash out the body cavity of the fish. Finally you will want to cut the head off with the fillet knife. 

Filleting a fish 

Filleting a fish is the culmination of all your hard work. After all what is the point of fishing if you don't end up with some great fillets. 

To fillet a fish you will first want to cut the head off the fish. Do this by inserting the knife behind the pectoral fin and slice diagonally towards the head, but stop in the middle of the fish. Then flip the fish over and do the same on the other side. 

Next you will want to Insert your knife into the fish by the head. Keep the knife just above the backbone and smoothly slice horizontally along the fish's body. Bam! You have fillet your first fish!


Depending on the type of fish, you may need to contend with spines, teeth, and sharp fins. Be extra careful when handling fish and consider wearing gloves.

Scaling a fish 

There is no way around it, but scaling fish is one of those tasks that no fisherman enjoys. However, scaling fish isn't hard and with a scaling tool you can make quick work of even the most stubborn scaling job. 

Scaling is best done on a surface that is not slippery. Hold the fish with one hand. Start at the tail and use the scaling tool to scarp the scales off the fish. 

Skinning a fish

Skinning a fish is easier than you think. You will need a good sharp filet knife and a pair of pliers. Begin by finding a good surface to work on. The first step is to insert your knife at one of the pectoral fins. In one motion cut under the skin to the other pectoral fin. Practice doing this in one fluid motion. The next step is to make to cuts along the backbone of the fish. Now use your pliers and pull the skin away from the body of the fish. 

If you haven't booked your Oak Island beach vacation yet for 2021, now is the perfect time to give one of our friendly reservationists a call. Our knowledgeable staff is here to help you find the home that fits your family's needs. Call us at 910-278-1147 to book your vacation today. 

How to Clean Your Fresh Catch

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