How to Clean Crappie

After a day spent fishing, it's important to tend to the bounty of fish brought back as soon as possible. Extended exposure to heat can cause the fish to spoil. Crappie don't require any special tools or processes to clean them. The main things to consider when cleaning crappie are to cut the fillets and remove bones when possible. Use these suggestions about how to clean crappie.


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    Wash your hands and knife prior to cleaning crappie.
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    Split each fish from the bottom to the top behind the gills. Cut through the crappie fish vertically, but do not cut so far into the fish that you cut the fish into two pieces.
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    Make a horizontal cut toward the back at the top and bottom of the fish. This slice is much like separating the fish sides from each other.
    • Cut the crappie with the knife from the bottom spot behind the gills where you previously cut toward the tail. Do not detach this section from the fish.
    • Split the fish with the knife. Start on the top of the fish near the spine. Cut from the point behind the gills where you already made a cut. Cut toward the tail. Don't cut all the way through the fish.
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    Expose the fillet meat. Pull the skin and meat away from the bones and ribs. As you pull the skin from the rest of the fish, you will see the fillet meat attached to the skin.
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    Cut the meat away from the crappie skin. Run the knife along the skin, skimming as closely along it as possible. Remove the crappie fillet from the skin when completely cut free.
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    Cut the ribs from the fillet with the knife. Additional pressure on the knife may be needed to cut the ribs.
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    Remove any meat available from the rib bones. Discard the rib bones into a trash bag.
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    Store the fillet. Rinse the fillet with a garden hose and put it into a sealable bag. Put water in the bag to submerge the fillet if you are planning to freeze fillets for later use. Place the bags in an ice chest until you can store the fillets in a freezer.
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    Repeat the process on the other side of the fish.


  • Crappie remains can be used to fertilize a garden.
  • Rinse off the cleaning surface periodically with your garden hose.


  • When preparing crappie to eat, heat it to an internal temperature that reaches at least 145 degrees F (63 degrees C). Fish cooked to lower temperatures can cause illness.
  • Fillet knives are sharp. Use extra caution when using a fillet knife.

Things You'll Need

  • Fillet knife
  • Trash bags
  • Water hose (attached to water source)
  • Ice chest
  • Ice
  • Plastic sealable bags

Article Info

Categories: Fishing