The 8 Best Fish Cleaning Tables
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in February of 2016. For seafood lovers, few things taste better than something you recently pulled out of the water with your own rod and reel. To aid in meal preparation, take a look at these fish cleaning tables, which provide a clean and convenient station on which to descale and fillet your day's haul for cooking. Many are designed for setup on a dock or shoreline, while some can be installed on a boat. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 25, 2021:
Unfortunately, the large model from premium manufacturer Magma is extremely difficult to find at this point, so we don't recommend it for most users. The Kotula's Deluxe is our new top choice because of its high utility, although the Magma Combination is still the best option for mounting to your boat. The Coldcreek Outfitters CC-332 is right up there with the Kotula in terms of functionality, as its included faucet and dual sinks make it especially versatile. If you want to save a few bucks, consider the Organized Fishing FT-001, although it's not quite as durable as most others.
February 05, 2020:
Availability concerns forced us to remove the Five Oceans Bait and Fillet and Best Choice Folding from the list. We chose to get rid of the Seek Deluxe as well, with numerous complaints indicating that the spray nozzle does not work properly due to a poor connection and low-quality craftsmanship.
In reviewing the existing items on the list, we decided to give the Kotula’s models an upgraded ranking. We noted the stability and uncomplicated assembly of both items, and the additional accessories that come with the Kotula’s Deluxe (bowls, knife, cutting board, trash bag holder) make it a particularly nice value.
We added four new models the list. Three are full-sized foldable tables, all of which come with a ruler or measuring tape for determining the length of each fish. The fourth is a miniature option that includes a swivel mount for installing to a boat.
Polydock Cleaning Table This versatile table from Polydock can be installed to most wood or aluminum dock systems, and you can pivot its surface up and down, allowing you to create a comfortable work station for filleting fish and cleaning up. It has integrated slots and holders for beverages, knives and other tools. polydockproducts.com
Boat Lift Table The wide work surface on this heavy-duty model is made from tough aluminum, but it also features a removable cutting board if you’d rather do your slicing on that. A spray nozzle hangs from the right side wall, and its legs have a sleek, white powder-coated finish. boatliftdistributors.com
Why Can’t I Just Use A Regular Table?
Considering just how messy the fish cleaning process is, the ease of washing your table is not something you should take lightly.
When someone asks me what I would select, if given the opportunity to choose my last meal on Earth, my response is clear-cut and immediate: baked walleye, personally caught by me, preferably from a remote northern lake within an hour of dinner time.
Yes, that’s absurdly specific, but it’s also ridiculously delicious.
To prepare a meal that perfect, you can’t settle for any old table or surface. After a long day in a boat, battling chop, and wind, and maybe even rain, do you really want to have to spend an hour huddled around the lid of a cooler or slicing away on an old piece of plywood?
Of course not. If you’re at a fishing camp, those pre-existing tables will be covered in slime and knife gashes, reeking of blood and fish guts. If you’re forced to create a makeshift fillet surface, you’ll have to be vigilant in ensuring it’s stable; one slip of the wrist, and that fillet knife can cause some serious bodily damage. And not only will hovering over a cooler or piece of wood wreak havoc on your back, it won’t provide you with an adequate cutting angle to properly clean your fish.
No, a legitimate fish cleaning table is what you need. Built specifically for this very purpose, these tables are the ideal height for making the cleaning process as comfortable and safe as possible. They also come equipped with specific accessories and add-ons to reduce the amount of manual effort you’ll have to put in every time you go to work on your latest catch.
Most fish cleaning tables include an attachment for a water source and a sink or drainage area, which makes them far more sanitary than a standard table or surface. Considering just how messy the fish cleaning process is, the ease of washing your table is not something you should take lightly. Plus, a filthy surface will contaminate your fillets, and we can’t have that for our last meal, can we?
Crafting The Ideal Filleting Environment
When deciding on a model, keep in mind that this table is serving as a station for descaling, gutting, and filleting fish. This is not an endeavor for the faint of heart — the scene can quickly become gruesome, and you require a sturdy, durable surface that’s strong enough to withstand whatever you throw at it.
We’ve gone over the importance of hygiene, but it’s wise to reiterate: make sure you clean your table thoroughly every time you use it.
Fish cleaning is a decidedly outdoor activity, which means your table’s ability to handle the elements is key. For weather resistance, tables with stainless steel or anodized aluminium frames work well. The table top will likely be some sort of heavy-duty plastic, as this creates a resilient surface that will hold up well to frequent contact with extremely sharp knives.
Decide whether you’re looking for a permanent or a portable table. Typically, portable models are lightweight with legs that are easy to fold, making them simple to move or jam into storage. Permanent models tend to provide a little more stability, and in a lot of cases, you can bolt these directly to your dock.
Plenty of extra features can make the cleaning process a heck of a lot easier — just remember, the price generally goes up as you add bells and whistles. Cup holders, shelves, rulers, and hose hangers are among the most popular features.
Ideally, your table will feature a faucet or similar water source that you can hook up to a standard garden hose. The same goes for a sink or drainage area — this considerably streamlines the cleaning process. Many models have a sloped surface to help maintain a relatively dry working area.
We’ve gone over the importance of hygiene, but it’s wise to reiterate: make sure you clean your table thoroughly every time you use it. This will prevent the spread of bacteria and lingering unpleasant stenches. If available, use bleach and a strong scrubbing pad to remove all the gunk and debris. Hose the table down well when you’re finished, along with any tools you used along the way.
Cleaning Your Catch: Tips And Tricks
Ah, filleting your fish: the necessary evil sandwiched between the exhilaration of the catch and the satisfaction of dining on it. Even so, with the proper equipment and a constructive attitude, this step in the process doesn’t have to be a pain; in fact, it can actually be pretty fun.
Even so, with the proper equipment and a constructive attitude, this step in the process doesn’t have to be a pain; in fact, it can actually be pretty fun.
Once your cleaning table is set up and ready to go, make sure all your gear is staged close at hand before you begin filleting. This may include fillet knives, a fillet glove, a hose, a fish scaler, a five-gallon bucket for the guts, a pot of water for the finished fillets, and a cold beer (you need a reward for your efforts, after all). And of course, a stringer full of freshly caught fish is mandatory.
If you’re fishing on a body of water that enforces size limits on the fish you catch, you will want to measure the length and weight of each fish before cleaning them. A simple tape measure works well for the length, and a quality fishing scale will be suitable for the weight.
Your filleting strategy will vary by species, so make sure you’re familiar with the type of fish you’re cleaning before getting started. Place each individual fillet in your pot of water and discard the waste as you go. If you plan on freezing or transporting your fillets, make sure to leave some of the scales on, as authorities will need to be able to identify the species.
When you’re finished with all of your fish, clean your table immediately — making sure to account for all of the guts, heads, and scales. Dispose of all the waste in a safe location (ideally on the other side of the lake or river), as the last thing you want is a hungry bear knocking on your door in the middle of the night looking for a late-night snack.
Once all of that is taken care of, it’s dinner time.