How to Gut a Fish

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How to Gut a Fish

Most times, we don’t need to gut a fish ourselves when we buy them at the supermarket. However, learning how to gut a fish is an important skill, especially if you like the great outdoors. How will you ever enjoy that fresh salmon you’ve just caught in the wild if you have no idea how to prepare it before cooking? Here’s how you can gut a fish.


  • Butter knife
  • Outdoor table
  • Chopping board
  • Fillet knife or any short, pointed thin knife
  • Ziploc sandwich bag


  1. It’s recommended that you gut a fish outdoors, and have an available means of washing your hands before and after you gut the fish.
  2. gut a fish

  3. Before you start, make sure that you’ve scaled the fish first. You can use a butter knife to remove the scales by working on them in short strokes from head to tail.
  4. Once you’ve scaled the fish, lay it parallel across the chopping board, facing you.
  5. Firmly put one hand on top of the fish to keep it steady. Tilt it a bit away from your other hand. Get your fillet knife and insert it in the fish’s anus. The anus is located somewhere in the middle part of the fish’s belly, near the small fin that can be found in the same area.
  6. Make a shallow incision that will run from the anus, in between the pectoral fins, and up to just below the fish’s jaw. Don’t cut too deeply or you will end up cutting into the guts as well, which will in turn affect the fish meat. Just cut into it just enough to open up its abdomen.
  7. Slightly lift open one side of the fish’s operculum plates, also known as its gill covers. Use your thumb and forefinger to feel around the base of the fish’s skull. Locate the belly of the fish connected to the fish’s skull.
  8. Insert the knife into the fish and make incisions to separate the belly or abdomen from the fish’s gill area.
  9. Make two equal cuts into the area just beneath the fish’s chin to form a V-like cut. These are connected to the gill arches, which you will be pulling out shortly.
  10. Open up the fish all along the incision you made from its belly up to its head.
  11. Grasp the gill arches that you cut under the fish’s chin. Firmly pull it with your thumb and forefinger downward. The gills may not give way under your pull, so you may need the knife or a pair of kitchen shears to cut it away from the fish.
  12. Keep pulling until you’ve reached the abdomen area, and all the guts will be removed as well.
  13. Put the discarded guts into the Ziploc sandwich bag, seal, and dispose of responsibly.
  14. Rinse the exposed abdomen of the fish under running water.

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