Get Your Catch Ready To Cook: How To Clean Walleye

There’s something to be said for catching the food you eat. Hunting and fishing are a popular pastime and many people take great pride in personally catching the food for themselves and their family.

Fishing for walleye is a popular activity in the fishing community, and these fish make great eats, too! But once you’ve caught the fish, how exactly do you get it ready for cooking? For inexperienced fishermen or cooks, breaking down a raw fish may seem intimidating.

Worry not, because we’ve written this article to teach you how to clean walleye from the first step to the last. It won’t be long till your catch is ready for your family to eat!

How To Clean Walleye: The Tools

This section focuses on the tools you’ll need in order to break down and clean your Walleye. There aren’t too many necessary tools, but the few tools required are pretty necessary. Make sure you’re properly equipped before you start the process!

To properly clean a walleye, you’ll need:​

  1. A sharp fillet knife.
  2. Your walleye.
  3. A cutting board.
  4. A sink.

9-inch fillet knife

It’s to be expected that the list of materials for cleaning your walleye isn’t too complicated. Unfortunately, learning how to clean Walleye is a little more complicated. We’ll detail each step so that you can break your fish down like a pro, even with no cooking experience!

How To Clean Walleye: The Steps

#1. Put Your Walleye On the Cutting Board

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This step might be obvious, but the importance of having a clean work environment cannot be understated. Make sure you have a clear area with plenty of room to work, and ensure you’re cutting on the board to avoid damaging your counter top.

#2. Cut Down to the Backbone

Cut Down to the Backbone

Cut Down to the Backbone

Position a fillet knife behind the front fin of the fish, facing down towards the cutting board. Make a quick cut downwards, all the way down to the backbone. Make sure you stop at the backbone, however, as you don’t want to cut through it!

#3. Cut Towards the Tail

Cut Towards The Tail

Cut Towards The Tail

Your knife should currently be right above the backbone. Angle your knife sideways so that it’s pointed towards the tail. Make a clean cut parallel to the backbone, from your position behind the fin all the way down to the tail.​

#4. Take Out the Rib Cage

Put your blade along the rib cage and slice along the edge. Make sure you keep the knife away from the meat so you don’t ruin the fillet.

Point the knife down and cut about 1/8th of an inch downwards for the entire length of the rib cage. The depth required may vary based off of the size of your fish, so you may have to eyeball it.

Grab the rib cage, and pull it out.​

#5. Remove the Skin

how to clean walleye remove the skin

Remove The Skin


Hold the fillet by the tail, and run your knife along the skin in a scraping motion to remove it from the fillet.​

#6. Cut out the Tiny Bones

If the fish is young enough, these bones may be small enough that they’ll dissolve while cooking. If they’re big enough, you’ll have to remove the rest of the bones.

Feel the fillet until you find the bones, and then cut down on either side of the ridge just deep enough to remove them.​

#7. Clean Your Fish

Clean Your Walleye Fish

Clean Your Fish

Run your fish under water to prepare it for cooking. Make sure you do a thorough job of cleaning for optimal safety.

After this final step, you’ll be ready to toss your fish in a pan or stick it in the oven

Congratulations, you just learned how to clean Walleye!

Final Thoughts

We hope you’ve found this guide on how to clean Walleye informational and helpful.

We wrote this guide because many fishermen know how to catch a fish but are clueless when it comes time to break it down and prepare it for cooking.

By assembling the proper tools and following the text and images of this guide, you shouldn’t have an issue learning how to clean a Walleye.

Just remember, breaking down fish isn’t an easy process. If you make a mistake on your first few fish, don’t lose heart. With practice, cleaning your walleye will become second nature!​

Matt John

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