How to Fillet Trout

Trout is a light flavored fish. However, the method to clean a trout is not the same as a walleye or pike. The best way to fillet trout is simple and straight forward. Know the proper technique and don't ruin your fish. Come and see!


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    Hold the trout with one hand pointing its head to the sky, or simply lay the fish on its side on a cutting board.
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    Take a knife starting at the anus and gently cut the fish along the belly. Continue the cut all the way to the throat.
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    Insert the knife into the tissue between the trout's gills (near where its "collarbone" would be).
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    Cut outward, perpendicular to the belly. The cut will be toward the head. Continue the cut so the head can be removed.
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    Grab the entrails and pull them out.
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    Rinse the exposed meat in cold water.
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    Use a spoon or a finger to scratch away the blood line along the spine.
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    Wash the fish with slightly salted water to remove any leftover residue.
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    Place the gutted trout on its back. Take your knife and insert it behind the ribs along the base of the backbone. Gently work the knife toward the other end of the ribs (toward the outside). Make sure you cut as close to the ribs as possible so you salvage as much meat as you can. You should be able to see the blade of your knife at all times as you go through this process. Work your way all the way down as far as the ribs go.
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    Upon reaching the anal fin, make sure you keep your knife as close to it as possible. Continue this careful nature as you cut all the way back to the tail.
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    Repeat the removal of the ribs on the other side of the trout. Again, when you get to the tail at the bottom, keep your knife as tight to it as you can.
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    Take your knife and cut down and in toward the backbone. You need to do this the entire length of both sides of the fish. You will know you are doing it right if you the sound of the small pin bones being cut can be heard. If you hear this, you are on the right track!
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    Remove that “whole center piece” or the frame of the trout. Right now you should have 2 fillets lying on the table on either side of the middle column. If you have cutters available to remove the center from the rest of the fish, that works great. Often you can break the center piece off with your hands.
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    You will notice there are still some small pin bones which connected the muscle to the frame of the fish. Gently run the tip of your knife along the fillet to locate them. You can get rid of these bones by cutting out the part of the fillet where they are present. Another trick is to use some pliers to grab and pull them out. The good news is, there is not an abundance of them. You can still cook and enjoy trout even with these small pin bones present. In fact, on small trout, these small bones can be eaten as they become soft and barely noticeable.


  • Make sure you use a sharp knife.
  • If desired, using a filleting board to provide additional grip.
  • A filleting glove for extra grip can be used while cleaning trout.


  • A dull knife can turn your filleting job into a disaster. Using a sharp knife cannot be stressed enough.

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Categories: Fish and Seafood