How to Fillet a Trout (the Right Way) In 4 Easy Steps

You do not have to be a fishmonger or a professional cook for you to fillet fish effectively.

Currently, there are several methods that may be used to debone and fillet fish. However, not all of them are suited for filleting light-flavored fish like trout.

How to Fillet a Trout

This is probably why a considerable number of people are still finding it hard to fillet trout fish. If you love preparing your own food at home, you must want to prepare your own fresh fish for grilling at home.

After you fillet a trout, you can cook it or put it in the refrigerator to keep fresh.

Be it Trout or any other type of fish, cleaning, deboning and filleting is pretty easy—provided that you have the right tools. Before you begin, you should bear in mind that the skeletal structure of fish is rather simplistic. As such, you need to use delicate movements while filleting a trout.

This is the only way you are going to achieve professional results. So, how should you go about it?


Filleting a trout is a rather delicate process and requires you to have a filleting knife. However, it is imperative that you clean the fish before you start. As you may be aware, fish recipes are best prepared using fresh fish.

As such, you often have to buy live fish to ensure that you bought a fresh one. As such, the fish will still have its intestines and scales intact.

This is why you first have to clean the trout before you proceed with filleting. In order to clean your trout thoroughly, these are the steps you should take:

1. Descale the Trout

In order to remove the scales on the fish, you need to lay it flat on a cutting board.

While holding the fish down by its tail, scrape the scales off using the back of your knife. In this regard, you need to scrape the scales off by moving the knife from the tail towards the head.

You need to continue scraping until you cannot lift any more scales from the surface of the fish. At this point, you need to flip the fish over, clean the knife and continue to descale its other side as well. Descaling a trout may be done using a normal knife. However, you may also buy a scaler for this task.

2. Remove the Gill and Innards

Once you have removed the scales and washed your trout thoroughly, the next step would be to remove the gills.

To separate the gills from the jaws of the fish, you need to hold it above the sink using the non-dominant hand.

  • Now insert your thumb into the gills on one side of the fish
  • Using the other hand, pierce the tip of your fillet knife through a small section of skin that is holding the jaws of the fish to the rest of its body.
  • While doing this, you need to ensure that the thumb you inserted into the gills stays away from the tip of the knife at all times
  • Using the knife, try to sever the points of attachment of the gills to the skin of the fish all around
  • Turn the fish over and do the same for the gills on the other side

Once you are done doing that, you need to open up the trout to remove the intestines and clean the fish. To do this, you need to cut the underside of the fish, right from the anus to the gills open.

To do this more effectively, you need to follow these steps:

  • Find the small hole near the tail of the fish and insert your fillet knife there
  • Now cut up the middle of the stomach, while moving the knife towards the gills of the fish
  • When the knife reaches the gills, you are supposed to break through the last bit of skin using your thumb
  • This may be done while lying the trout on a cutting board or while holding the fish over a sink

Now that you have the stomach of the fish opened up, you need to remove the innards. To do this, you should just pull out the gills.

This requires you to follow the following procedure:

  • Pinch the area of the fish where the gills meet in between your fingers
  • Now pull the gills downwards—towards the tail—to remove the entrails and throw them away
  • Prior to discarding the entrails, it is advisable for you to seal them in a plastic bag to prevent fishy odors in your garbage.

3. Rinse off the Trout

Having removed the fins, innards and gills, you need to clean the fish of any residue and blood before you proceed to fillet it.

This should be done by running the fish under your faucet. It is advisable to use cold water for this as warm water may alter the texture of your fish.

  • While the water is running over the fish, you should use your fingers to wipe any sand or grit that may be left in the stomach cavity of the trout
  • If you do not want to touch the inside of the trout, you may wear gloves while cleaning it.
  • While cleaning trout, you should pay close attention to the mud vein—a brown vein that is situated next to the spine.
  • To clean the mud vein in trout, you should crape out the mud in it using the thumb
  • In this regard, you should stick the thumb into the chest cavity of the trout than use your finger nail to scrape the mud vein clean
  • For the best results, it is advisable to work your way from the tail end of the fish towards its gills while scraping off the mud vein
  • Now rinse off the fish and try to remove any residue that may be left in its stomach cavity
  • If you do not want to use your thumb to scrape off the mud vein, you may as well use the edge of a spoon

4. Cut the Fillets

Now that you are done cleaning the trout, you can proceed to cut the fillets. As you may be aware, this is a rather delicate process.

As such, you need to use the right procedure, as elaborated below:

  • Start by breaking off the head of the fish from the rest of its body. To do this, you need to pull the head backwards towards the spine.
  • Using one hand, hold the head and bent it back until you hear the bones break
  • Keep the head attached to the skin so that removing the fins will be easier later on
  • Now separate the bones from the meat by slitting the underneath of the ribs using a fillet knife
  • To do this, you should insert the tip of the fillet knife between the ribs and the meat near the head of the fish.
  • Now work your way down towards the tail slowly to separate the flesh from the bones
  • While doing this, you are supposed to keep the knife as close to the ribs as you possibly can so that you do not waste the fillet
  • Since trout is a relatively small fish, it is advisable to use a smaller blade—preferably a 4-inch blade of less. This will give you better control over the filleting process
  • Now poke your knife through the neck of the fish and use it to cut along the spine and pull the fillet away from the ribs.
  • Now poke the knife into the skin between the meat and bones and work your way towards the tail while keeping the knife as close to the spine as you possibly can.
  • Flip the tout over and make a similar cut on the other side of the fish
  • With both sides cut, you now need to pull the ribs away and discard them
  • You may notice some pine bones sticking out from your fillet. You should remove these by working the blade beneath them and then pulling them away

Having cut out your fillets, the final step will be to get rid of the head and fins of the fish. For this purpose, you need to set your trout upside down in such a way that the fillet meat is facing upwards.

Then you need to follow the following steps carefully.

  • Pierce the knife through the flesh close to the end of either fillet to remove the fin
  • You need to pull the knife across the neck of the fish as well as around the other fins so that you can easily remove everything in one piece
  • You can either discard the head or better still, use it to make fish stock
  • To cut out the dorsal fin between your fillets, you need to run the knife along the top of the fillets—at the point where the fillets connect to the dorsal fin
  • Once you have made this cut on both sides, you should pull the fins out and discard it

There you have it, a clear and precise procedure to fillet a trout. Filleting a trout fish is not as hard as some people believe.

Provided you have the right tools and follow the above-mentioned steps, you can easily fillet your trout at home.

This procedure will come in handy for people who are looking forward to cooking their fish fresh.

Rather than buying fish fillets from your fishmonger, just buy the whole fish—preferably while it is still alive. This way, you can fillet it at home and be sure that you are preparing fresh fish.

Keren Fisher

My name is Keren Fisher. I’m a Happy Mom of 3 Beautiful Girls. I am always online researching things to buy and activities for them to do. I have been blogging for the last 10 years

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