How To Clean A Trout Properly in Easy Ways

A freshly caught trout, before consumption will need proper cleaning. “Cleaning” is a fisherman’s term for removing entrails and inedible parts from a cut open fish, and prevents it from going bad easily. But, how many people that aren’t familiar with the aquatic habitat can properly clean a trout at home? Well, for those who can’t brag of that ability, this article is a quick sure guide to help you learn the ropes on how to clean your own trout.



To clean a trout, among other processes, first cut your trout by slitting its belly and severing its gills, then remove the entrails, the head, and fins by pulling them off of the fish, and have them de-boned, filleted and skinned for either consumption or storage.

What You Need

  • Water (cold)
  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Plastic bags (for garbage)
  • Trout

Cut and Clean Trout

How To Clean A Trout
View of a man’s hands cleaning a red mullet with kitchen knife. Fresh fish eating concept.

Rinse the fish in cold running water to remove slime, lay fish on a cutting board or a flat wooden or plastic surface for easy cleaning, then slit fish open with a sharp knife from anal point (located a little over halfway from the head to the tail) to throat. Position the fish flat on its side, with the anal region facing you.

Insert the tip of the knife into the anus and cut shallowly along the belly towards the head. Avoid cutting too deep, so you don’t puncture the intestine and release unpleasant odor. But, in the case of an accident, properly rinse your fish off in cold clean water.

Separate the gills from the head with your knife

How To Clean A Trout
Woman gutting fresh caught rainbow trout

Then open the fish’s body with your hands and remove it entrails. To do this, your hand should grip the fish’s jaw with one hand and grasp the gills with the other. To enable you to pull firmly on the gills and remove them along with accompanying guts, and discarded neatly.

Next, find the fish’s kidney, usually dark colored, located at the bottom of its backbone. Then, cut along the kidney’s length with your knife and scrape away with your finger or a blunt utensil spoon.

1. Cutting the kidney releases a dark red colored blood and should be rinsed away almost immediately after the kidney is removed. You can store or discard the head of the fish when cut, individual preferences.
2. Fish can be filleted and skinned without being cleaned first. However, to prevent accidentally piercing the entrails, clean the fish first.
How To Clean A Trout
Man eviscerating a trout’s head

If you decide to clean your fish before filleting and skinning it, leave the head on the fish, you could need to use it later. After you are fully done cutting your trout, you will need to fillet it.

Filleting and Skinning Trout

Place fish on a flat surface with the skin facing downward. Insert your sharp knife into the meat about a half inch from the tail.

Grip the tail firmly, and hold knife at an angle to the skin while you cut it free of the skin.

How To Clean A Trout
A chef cleaning fresh fish fillets from bones using tweezers

Lightly wash and rinse to clean off blood and any other dirt picked in the catching or cutting process.

You will be left with the spine, meat, and skin if you discarded the fish’s head, which will also make storage easier and sometimes prevent it from going bad fast.

To do this, simply re-rinse your fish saved up parts thoroughly in cold water and have it packed in ice, to be kept frozen. It should last good for about 2weeks – 2months depending on how it is preserved.

Tips to Store cut-cleaned Trout: Vacuum sealing is a good way to freeze up fish, or double wrap fish with plastic bags before refrigerating and squeeze out any excess air, it will protect the fish from freezer burn and can increase its shelf life.


Always be careful when cleaning fish, as it can be a slippery and may cause injury so you should consider using gloves and take care when using sharp knives too.

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