Cleaning a whole fish, if you’re not used to it, can be a little daunting. But if you catch your own fish and expect to eat it, then clean it you must.
1. Start by snipping off the pectoral fins with sharp scissors.
2. Dealing with the dorsal fin is tricky—its sharp points contain mild venom and can cause an unpleasant little wound. Carefully lift up the fin with one hand and cut it off, as close to the fish’s body as possible, with the scissors.
3. Next, remove the gills and scales. Lift back the collar of the fish on one side, snip the gills at their top and pull them out with your fingers. Repeat the process on the other side. Scale the fish by scraping firmly from tail to head with the edge of a soup spoon. Then rinse.
4. Finally, you must gut the fish. Removing the entrails is best accomplished by inserting a sharp knife in the anal cavity of the fish (just in front of its small bottom fins) and cutting a slit up to the gill openings. Pull out the innards with your fingers. Scrape out any remaining bits with the knife or a spoon and rinse fish well.