Fresh Catch 101

May 25, 2022 by Chef Patricia Clark

Here’s a primer for deckhands on how to best prep fish for a happy chef.

So, your guest just caught a fish and proudly hands it to you. Now what? Guests on boats of all sizes enjoy fishing, but often it is left to the newest deckhand to manage cleaning it up enough to hand off to the chef. These simple steps will ensure a happy chef.

  • Grab four large heavy-duty garbage bags and lay out three of them on your swim platform.
  • Take the fourth bag, place the fish inside, and vigorously scale the fish in the bag so the scales are mostly collected within.
  • Rinse the fish with the freshwater hose, then lay the fish onto the open bags on the swim platform.
  • With a sharp knife, make a diagonal cut along the flesh side of the gills and remove them.
  • With sharp shears, cut off the fins.
  • Slice along the belly and remove any guts.
  • Give the fish one more rinse with fresh water, then wrap it in one of the open bags, making sure not to drip fish liquid on the teak, and bring the fish to the chef.
  • If it is during a meal service and you want to take it one step further, you can try your hand at filleting the fish.
  • Place one hand flat on the side of the fish and with a sharp knife, make a straight vertical cut where the meat ends and the tail begins. Do not slice through, just slice to the middle bones.
  • Turn your knife flat against the interior flesh and run your knife along the middle bones from tail end to now-empty gill pocket.
  • Flip the fish over and do the exact same on the other side. You now have two fillets which you can cleanly put on a sheet pan and hand like a hero to the chef!
  • Don’t forget to wash down your swim platform with fresh water and a little scrubbing to make sure no scales, blood, or guts remain.


Here are a few must-have products to impress your guests after the “Big Catch.”

A sharp boning knife, such as the
6-inch MAC Chef Series BNS-60 with a heavy-duty, washable sheath at

A durable, oversized, heavy-duty cutting board, such as the NoTrax Sani-Tuff T45 at

Washable, cut-resistant, food-grade fishing gloves, such as Swayboo Polyethylene gloves at
Antibacterial dish soap and wipes.

Heavy-duty, contractor-style garbage bags.


Ingredients for a wow factor that’s off the charts.

What can a chef do to impress guests once the catch is in hand? Imagine this: After the fish is prepped by the deckhands, the chef comes down with a knife, a torch, and some great additional flavor. Immediately, the proud guests are handed a taste of their catch!

Some guests may be squeamish about eating it “fresh from the ocean” — giving it a quick exterior sear makes a fancy presentation and quells any doubts. Here’s what you need:

High-powered propane or butane torch
The basic, non-flashy, tried-and-true hardware store torches are the best
Sharp boning knife
Wusthof gourmet 6-inch flexible boning knife at

Citrus oils, such as from Agrumato.
Available at
Sharp kitchen shears (for fins or tough bones)
Wusthof kitchen shears at

Yuzu oil
A nice blend of Yuzu juice and olive oil makes a great condiment for
fresh catches. Shimanto Domeki’s yuzu citrus juice is available at
Truffle oil
A variety of options are available at
Assorted finishing salts
The citron salt delivers both a hint of acid and great triangular-shaped flakes that melts before your eyes. It’s the perfect fish finishing flavor and great even on ceviche. Falk Salt is my favorite, at
Knife roll to store everything
My personal favorite that checks off all the marks is this Everpride chef knife bag at

Disposable chopsticks
Hear me out: Fillet your fish on the swim platform, slice off a sliver with your fancy boning knife, give it a splash of yuzu or agrumato, and hand your guest a pair of chopsticks. Let them jump in the water and eat sashimi. Use your torch and offer it tataki-style while they hang out in the water, chopsticks in hand.

Keep your kit handy! A raw-fish prep kit needs your constant attention to stay safe from bacteria and food-borne illnesses. Best to keep both antibacterial wipes and a spray bottle of diluted Lysol at hand, as well as disposable gloves and clean kitchen towels. Once you use any of your tools, make sure to clean them thoroughly with soap and antibacterial spray/wipe, then dry everything thoroughly.


About Chef Patricia Clark

Patricia Clark is a chef and guest writer for Triton News.

View all posts by Chef Patricia Clark →