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How To Kill A Catfish?

"How to kill a catfish???" is a subject that seems to divide opinion the most. We always try to find the most humane way to put this resilient creature to death before we cook it. Imagine a fish that shows signs of motion even when out of the water! It sounds insane and only very few fish are able to stay alive when out of the water.

Indeed, catfish are special. They particularly have a firm flesh, so they perform very well in most recipes and many forms of cooking including chowders and exemplary deep frying. Catfish come in different species and admittedly some have a strong taste though this is not a common circumstance; most of the time they taste sweet especially the smaller ones.

Why Kill A Catfish?

If you’ve never done fishing or perhaps you are a novice angler, you are probably wondering why this creature should be killed, yet it hasn’t done any wrong. But, here’s the thing, this is a mysterious creature; won’t die until you kill it. And you don’t want to start cleaning and filleting a live fish because animal rights propaganda won’t forgive you for that. It’s considered inhumane and you’ll even be terrified.

Many people will tell you different ways of killing the catfish but the question is, are those methods humane? I’ve heard someone kill the catfish by hitting it on the head with a hammer nine times! Oh God! That’s massacre! Another tried sticking a knife in the fish’s head and even cutting its gills but it didn’t work.

So with all due respect we have for the catfish, let’s share with you the best way to sacrifice this beast.

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How To Kill A Catfish?

While there’s not a single method, we’ll look at a few legible options.

One of the most popular ways used by many veteran anglers is pithing. You’ll need a sharp to do this. To pith a catfish, position the pointy end of a knife directly above its brain. Push it down quickly into the brain cavity of the fish. This trick is usually sure and quick.

Or, make a small incision over the soft spot on the fish’s head between their eyes. Then slip a fine piece of wire into the soft spot. This destroys the brain and central nervous system. You’ll see the catfish shutter for a few seconds and then go limp. The length of the wire depends on the size of your catfish – you’ll need a longer one if you have a large catfish. Apart from the wire, you can nail it still on the soft spot and it will be dead soon enough.

Did I tell you to take caution when handling a catfish? It’s important. The sharp spines on the pectoral and dorsal fins can cause a painful sting; you won’t have joy going any further.

Another way of killing the catfish is knocking it firmly on the head. Most laymen choose this method. They know the only way of killing any living creature is by beating it down. And when dealing with a catfish, they choose to hammer in on the head. Congratulations!

But you don’t have to hammer it nine times for God’s sake! Yes, the catfish has a strong skull. Yet, a precise, powerful knock on the head will destroy both its skull and brain. Aim above the soft spot because the brain is found just underneath.

What’s next?

Once you have a dead catfish, obviously you want to proceed to prepare it for a meal.

Start by cutting just through the skin in a ring around the bottom of its head. This spot is where you’ll cut its head later. Leave it, for now, to give you a better and firmer grip on the fish. It also gives an edge from which you start skinning.

Then remove the fins – the dorsal and ventral fins so they’ll not get in your way while you manipulate the fish. Leave the tail fin for easy handling. Continue by skinning the fish. Not many do this but removing the skin improves the taste of the fish. You’ll need a sharp knife and tweezers to work your way from the head back and top down.

Locate the spot you’d initially marked on the head and cut trough using a big, sharp knife. Cut a slit along the belly of the catfish all the way to the anal fin. Remove all the bad bits and stack them with the head. Rinse the fish to make sure all the mess is gone.

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Follow up by filleting the fish. Lay the fish on its side on a big cutting board. Using a fillet knife, cut both sides of the fish lengthwise, following its backbone structure. Hold up the tail and work your way towards the head, cutting across the ribs. Remove all the flesh from the bone structure and your fish will be ready for the frying pan.

Lastly, clean up the mess. Put your chunks into a dish and dispose the head, guts and skeleton. Scour the working surface with soap and hot water and wash your hands before you cook the fish.

Wrap up

Repeat the various ways and steps we’ve mentioned above and you’ll soon become an expert catfish killer. All you need is practice and a little courage. Once again, take care when handling this type of fish. We hope the catfish won’t freak you out again.

Do you know any other way of killing a catfish? Share with us in the comment section. And if you loved our style, let us know your success story. Bliss.

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Ronald - June 20, 2017

Is the humane killing any different for a channel catfish? They were both about 16 inches. If there was a soft spot, I couldn’t find it. There seemed to be hard bone everyplace I poked.

I also had a hard time holding them to skin and fillet. They are slippery.

Any help is appreciated…thanks

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