So, you're out camping with mates and you've finally caught your first fish. Congratulations! The playfully mocking comments and jokes should stop now. That is, of course, if they don't find out you've got no idea what to do with the thing now you've caught it.
We've all been there, and not knowing how to gut and clean a fish certainly isn't something to be ashamed of. But we do understand if you don't really want to ask your buddies for pointers. That's why we've put together this guide on how to get your catch ready for the campfire in just five simple steps:
Prepare Your Work Area
As with any kind of meal prep, the first thing you're going to need to do is set up an area so you can get everything ready easily. For this part of the process, you're going to need a nice, sharp knife, something to discard waste into, and some decent lighting so you're less likely to slip and do yourself damage.
Hot Tip: LED Light Bars make the perfect assistant in this instance. Simply set up your prep area in front of your rig and light ‘em up – you'll have the best-lit kitchen in the camp-site!
Clean-Up In Aisle One
Now it's time to get your fish in an appropriate state to be gutted and prepared in the easiest and most sanitary way possible. Before you do anything else, give it a good rinse and rub any debris off its body.
At this point, you can also remove the fins if you choose to, but that's entirely up to personal preference. If you decide you'd like them out of the way, simply place your knife at the base of the fin and slide it along just under the flesh until removed.
Note: Removing the fins, although not compulsory, will make it that little bit easier to keep everything clean and tidy. This is why we recommend it.
Mini Step: Decide whether you want to gut or scale your fish first. We recommend scaling first, but it's up to you.
Nice And Smooth
Scaling your catch isn't actually anywhere near as hard as it may seem. Simply grab it by the tail and slide your knife towards the head in long, gentle strokes. After the first few goes, you'll get a feel for how the scales come off that particular fish, and then you'll slip into a comfortable rhythm.
When gutting your fish, you want to begin by slicing from the vent to the gills. If your fish is on the smaller side, you should now be able to simply open the incision you have made, grab the guts where they meet the fish's head, and pull them out gently. Larger fish will need to have their innards removed either with a knife or spoon, whichever feels easiest to you.
Once the scales and bulk of your fish's guts are removed, simply scrape out the liver and cut the swim bladder (look for a little white thing) out to complete the process. From here, you'll be able to cut out the gills, and then all that's left to do is give you nicely prepared fish one last wash before chucking it on the fire.
P.S. If you want to be fancy, check out this Jamie Oliver guide on how to bone and fillet a fish. You'll definitely become the group's favorite chef!