Susquehanna River Flathead Catfish – how to fillet a catfish


Flathead Catfish

Flathead Catfish

This morning about 4:30am I got a text from Chris asking if I wanted catfish that he and Wayne went night fishing on the Susquehanna River. My first text back was no, simply because, it’s not worth the mess in my kitchen with only a few catfish. Last time he and Wayne brought me catfish there was 4 fish all under 22″, to me, that isn’t worth the effort although I appreciated what they did bring me.

Then, I got another text about 5:30am asking me again this time with a picture. LOL (these guys are learning I tell ya)

I knew right away these catfish were alot bigger than last time and a bunch more to boot. So I text back saying ok bring them over. Glad I did.

Total there was 3 catfish – 32″ , 3 catfish – 34″ ,  2 catfish – 21″ and 1 catfish – 31″ all fillet up real nice and clean. I do wish I had a scale though to weigh some of those suckers .. or even to weigh the total fillets after finished. Darn it. (I was to lazy to use the bathroom scale – lol)

Flathead Catfish

Flathead Catfish

I think catfish are easy to fillet because they lay flat (that’s prolly how they get their name Flathead catfish – lol – joking) But they are alot easier than say like brown trout, bass and salmon. I fillet alot of fish from these two guys, now that I think about it. Ha Ha

To fillet fish is simple really, just makes a mess in your kitchen. The hardest and most time consuming is getting the fish on and off the cutting board. To fillet the fish is fast.

I run my finger down the back (on the right) of the catfish head till I feel muscle, then poke my knife tip in till I hit bone. Slice threw the skin all the way to about the last inch or so before the tail fin keeping pressure on the knife against the spine. Use your thumb in the slit to feel around and guide your other hand working the knife.

Then, below the back of the head (where I put the knife tip in) cut downward on an angle till you hit the ribs. Should look like a loose triangle shaped hunk of meat. Don’t cut it off – take the knife tip and (starting at the spine area) lightly slide threw the meat to ribcage all the way down – you want the knife tip to slide between the red meat (ribcage) and the white meat. The red meat you don’t want from a catfish because it stores all the bad stuff from the water.

Flathead Catfish

Flathead Catfish

Leave the skin attached just fillet the white meat off the skin. I like this way, especially on a big catfish – the size of the catfish keeps the fish from sliding around. (on a wooden cutting board) White meat should be one piece when finished.

Flathead Catfish

Flathead Catfish

That’s it,  repeat for the other side and any remaining fishes.

TIP: The ribcage doesn’t go back to the tail (duh – lol) so when you get to the back of the ribcage – put your thumb against the ribcage moving it back toward the fin following the knife in your other hand – you can feel where you need to put your knife to continue the bottom 1/2 of the tail area. Doing this will keep the meat in 1 piece instead of two.
Fresh catfish for dinner tonight !!!

Catfish Night Fishing

Catfish Night Fishing



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