Photo Gallery - Filleting Fish

The following photos illustrate how we fillet most of the fish we catch or spear.


Place your catch (such as this yellow snapper) on a flat cutting board.

Make a shallow cut on the dorsal/top side of the fish (barely off the centerline).

Extend the shallow dorsal cut from the head to near almost the tail.

Make a second cut through the skin angling from the top of the head to behind the gills (and behind the side fin).

Staying along the dorsal bones, gradually deepen the dorsal cut until you reach the spine.

Continue deepening, down to the level of the spine, along the entire side of the fish.

Get the tip of the knife below the spine and slice away the flesh form the bones forming the fish rib cage.

Peel back the filet as you cut through the belly skin. Begin separating the side of meat from the body. Be careful to not cut through the rib cage bones or into the abdominal cavity.

Cut through the belly skin toward the tail, separating the side of meat from the skeleton. You can leave the tail end of the filet attached to the body.

Flip the slab of meat skin side down. Hold a flat-edged knife at 30-45 to the board and cut through the meat, down to but not through the skin.

Hold the skin in place with one hand and use the angled knife to cut the fillet away from the skin.

You now have one skinless fillet and a fish with a big flap of skin dangling from near the tail.

Flip the fish over, and repeat the process. Make a shallow dorsal cut on the other side to the top centerline of the fish's back.

Make a second cut angling from the top of the head to behind the gills (and behind the side fin).

Gradually deepen the dorsal cut, slicing and peeling away the flesh from the bones that go up from the spine.

Cut away the meat below the spine. Avoid cutting through the rib cage bones or into the abdominal cavity.

Cut through the belly skin, as you separate the meat from the skeleton.

Flip the second slab of meat skin side down. Hang onto the skin near the tail and, as before, cut away the fillet from the skin.

Toss the carcass (hopefully with the abdominal cavity still intact) and the two skin flaps overboard to feed other fish.

Trim away and discard funny looking stuff (like errant bones or bits of the abdominal wall).

If the fish had a "blood line" of dark meat near the skin (like this snapper), use a shallow cut to remove the dark wedge of bloody flesh (from the former skin side of the fillet).

Cook the fillets (optional), and insert fish meat into a nearby mouth.