How to Clean a Perch

by Shelby Winchell
Perch are freshwater fish.

Perch are freshwater fish.

Cleaning a perch doesn't have to be a messy process. Learning the basics will prevent you from rupturing internal organs, like the intestines, which can make it an unpleasant task. When you do catch a perch, it's important to clean it soon. This type of catch is considered a freshwater fish and can die within 10 minutes if not submerged in water. The cleaning can be done either while out fishing or when you get home. You may want to put on a pair of gloves before cleaning so you don't get your hands dirty.

Hold the perch by it's head and run a large spoon or fish scaler down it's skin in a downward motion to remove the scales. Repeat this process on the other side.

Insert the tip of a sharp knife into the fish's stomach (near the anus) and run the blade up to the fish's head. Don't stick the knife in too far as this may rupture the intestines.

Open the fish and remove all the entrails with your hands.

Make a "V" shape cut to remove the anus. Discard any remains in the bucket.

Rinse the inside and outside of the perch with clean water.

Lay the fish on a flat surface. Make sure it is closed at this point. Hold your knife at an angle and slice the fish behind the gills. Continue slicing until you reach the backbone. Be careful not to sever the backbone.

Run the knife under the perch's skin all the way up to the tail. Be careful not the puncture the skin.

Fold the top half of the fish in half so the tail is underneath the head. The skin should be on the inside of the fold.

Put one hand on the tail, and with the other hand, start separating the meat from the skin using your knife. Be sure to cut the ribs out and discard them.

Wipe off the knife and throw away or bury any remains you are not going to eat.

Items you will need

  • Large spoon or fish scaler
  • Sharp knife
  • Gloves
  • Bucket


  • You should cook and eat the fish immediately after you clean it. If you don't plan on doing anything with the fish meat right away, place it on ice in a cooler or freezer to preserve the meat.

About the Author

Shelby Winchell has worked as a journalist for more than seven years, covering the economy, political figures and celebrities for various websites. She has a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism.

Photo Credits

  • small perch image by Alexander Potapov from