Knowing how to scale a fish is the first step to turning your catch into a delicious dinner. Follow our tips to avoid a slippery mess.


Knowing how to scale a fish is a skill all fishermen need. Rather than leave it to someone else, learn how to scale and gut a fish so that it can be hooked, caught and eaten all in the same day.

If you need some inspiration for what to put on the table, take a look at our best trout recipes.

QUERY: I do not know how to scale a fish and it is a job that I have little interest in and have never wanted to do, particularly as I am not a cook. I now need to have a go and have read a few pieces in magazines on how to scale a fish but they have been of little help.
FT, by email


To scale a fish: hold it firmly by the tail and using a blunt blade scrape vigorously up towards the head, trying not to break the skin. With most fish this dislodges the scales quite easily, but remember to wipe the fish and your knife as needed. The fish is scaled when the skin appears sleek.

To gut a fish: leave the head on as it gives you something to hold on to. Lay the fish on a board and grip the head. Insert a sharp knife just below the gills and slice down to the vent below the tail. Stick the blade into the cavity and scoop out the guts. Rinse the cavity well under cold running water. Make sure the kidney, which sits just below the backbone, is also removed. Some fish have a thick white swim-bladder which must be removed to expose the kidney. When clean, remove the head by slicing off with a slanting cut along the line of the gills to avoid wasting any meat.