How to Clean Fresh Fish?

Are you a proud angler and good cook, but even the thought of cleaning a fresh fish scares you? If yes, then you must be looking for a comprehensive guide on how to clean fresh fish, and guess what? We are here today with an easy and detailed guide on how to clean fresh fish.

How to Clean Fresh Fish

So, pull your socks up because the enticing silvery scales and gleaming eyes are not as tough to handle as you think. In this article, we will share methods, steps, and some valuable tips that will make you a fresh fish cleaning master. Get ready to uncover this mysterious job to properly clean fresh fish at home and surprise everyone with a delicious finger-licking dish. If you’re a beginner, check out our guide on how to fish.

How to Clean Fresh Fish?

Whenever I have a big catch, I like to cook whole fish as a meal, but before dipping the fish in spicy-rich sauces, there comes a seemingly daunting task of cleaning the fish. When I was a teenager, I saw my dad doing this, and he taught me how to clean fresh fish in a super easy way. I will share the same technique with you all.

Get the Stuff

Pro Tip

Before anything, you should grab the stuff you need near you or near your workstation to save frequent trips from here to there to get the required items. 

All those wondering what they need to clean fresh fish. Here is a list of items for them.

Get the Stuff
  • A cutting board
  • Sharp knife or fish scaler to get rid of scales
  • Bucket or bowl
  • Faucet to rinse fish
  • Gloves
  • Cloth or paper towels to pat dry the fish
  • Ice bucket to place your fish after cleaning
  • Waste bag to dispose off all the unnecessary parts of fish

Stepwise Guide to Clean Fresh Fish


Make sure you wait for 1 to 2 hours before cleaning the fish. 

Don’t get too excited after catching a fish, or run to your kitchen to cook the fish right away. Moreover, place the caught fish in the water to keep it alive for a few hours if you need to, or place it on ice if it’s dead. 

Stepwise Guide to Clean Fresh Fish

I am sharing the steps I follow to clean a fresh fish before cooking it. So read ahead to clean any fresh fish like a pro.

  • Even if we are cooking the whole fish, we need to get rid of the gut and inner organs, and to do that, just put your fish on a cutting board and cut the fish’s belly near the anal opening, and move up till you reach the fish’s head.
  • Don’t cut too deep to avoid puncturing the intestines. Now cut it open and remove all the internal organs from the intestine to the kidney to the fish’s anus and everything in between. 


Remember to cut a V shape to remove the anus. 

  • Now, once you are done with the organs, get your fish under running water to rinse it off and clean it from the inside. If your fish has a dark tissue lining on the inside, scrap it off with a spoon because it gives a strong, oily flavor.
  • Remove the head if you want, and dispose off all the internal organs properly in a waste bag to prevent foul odor from spreading in the kitchen.

Let’s Get Them Scales Off

Now it’s time for the descaling, which is no less than a challenge, but wait, I have an amazing tip for you that makes removing scales from the fish a child’s play. Follow the steps to scale a fish easily.

Let Get Them Scales Off
  • Start with rinsing your fish with cold water. It helps in loosening the scales.
  • Rest the fish on paper towels or newspaper to dry it a bit.
  • Now get your fish scaler or sharp fishing knives to scrape off the scales. Hold the fish from its tail and remove the scale by moving your knife in the opposite direction of the scales. Repeat the same process by turning the fish side to side until no scales are left.

Rinse it off again if you are having difficulty removing scales from any specific part. To confirm all the scales are gone just move your finger against the fish skin, how does it feel? If it’s all smooth you can make a happy jump because you are done with the toughest part and got rid of all the scales. Also, check our guide on how to bleed fish.

Spread Flavors in the Air

Once you are done descaling and cleaning fresh fish it’s time to treat your family with the tastiest fish meal. Whether you like fish fillets, steaks, or any other dish the fish cleaning step is the same for all. There is no need to go to a store or professional to clean fresh fish because you can do it yourself now, right?

Spread Flavors in the Air

Tips and Warnings

Now you know how to descale and clean a fish so go ahead and cook yummy fish dishes but before you get going I want to share some valuable tips. So here you go.

Tips and Warnings
  • Be very careful with the fins as they are sharp and can cut deep so handle the fish carefully and don’t cut yourself.
  • Do some research before investing hours in cleaning a fresh fish because some fish have a very strong flavor naturally and some are too bony which ruins the fun of having fish for dinner.
  • Some fish have super sharp teeth so never grab any fish from its head or near teeth as it can injure you while you are busy cleaning it.
  • Fish has a strong odor so always wear gloves while cleaning it if you don’t want your hands to smell like fish.
  • Discard the fish entrails properly to avoid uninvited bee guests in your house.


How do you clean fresh fish before cooking?

To clean fresh fish, grab a cutting board and place your fish on it. Then make a cut from the lower part of the belly to the head and spread it open to get rid of all the entrails. Make sure you remove the kidney and fish’s anus before putting the fish under running water to clean the cavity. Now wash the fish from the outside and you are done.

Can I wash fish with vinegar?

You can add a few drops to prevent the fish odor from transferring to your hands. Moreover, add some drops of vinegar to the fish while cleaning it if you want to store it for a while in the fridge but cleaning a fish with vinegar is not suggested.

Do you need to clean the fish before cooking?

Yes, it is important to clean fresh fish before cooking to get rid of all the dirt, germs, and bacteria and enjoy a healthy fish meal.

How long should you soak fresh fish?

Soaking a fresh fish for half an hour is enough to make the flesh juicy, tender, and firmer. Moreover, a soaked fish tastes better.


This guide is helpful for all those who are tired of visiting professionals to clean the fish for them and they also charge hefty amounts. So why not dodge them and learn how to clean fresh fish? This guide will equip you with the knowledge and tips required to clean fresh fish. Give it a go and present a mouthwatering fish dish to your loved ones and flex your newly learned skill of cleaning fresh fish.

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