From Hookin' to Cookin'

You can’t beat fresh fish on a warm summer night. Follow these tips to preserve that great fresh taste and prepare a delicious meal that will receive rave reviews.

Freshly caught fish tastes great if it's cared for properly. Bring along a cooler with plenty of ice to store your catch until you get home - make sure the lid seals tightly. To preserve a fresh taste, clean your fish as soon as possible. It’s best to eat the fish the same day you catch it. If this is not possible, you can store it your refrigerator for 2-3 days.


Fishing on a hook with warm to a wonderful meal.

Cleaning Fish

Cleaning fish is easy with the right tools and a little practice. Make sure you have a sharp knife with a thin, flexible blade and a flat surface to work on. Always cut away from yourself. Wear a fillet glove on your free hand to prevent serious cuts.

Filleting, pan dressing, and skinning are three simple ways to clean your catch.

Cooking Fish

Fresh fish tastes great, so cook your fish as soon after catching them as possible.

Wash cleaned fish thoroughly. If you are not going to cook the fish right away, freeze immediately in a container (milk carton, pop-top plastic container, freezer bag, etc.) filled with water. Thaw fish in the refrigerator or under cold running water. Do not thaw fish more than one day before cooking.

Rinse fresh fish in cold water and pat dry. Make several shallow, diagonal cuts in large fillets to shorten cooking time. Trim off any portions of yellow or white fat and any red meat that is on the fish fillet. White meat will make the best fish fries.

Simple Recipes
Use simple recipes that let the fish’s fresh flavor come through, and follow the recipes carefully to avoid overcooking as fish cooks very fast. The fish are done when the fillets turn from translucent to opaque or white, feel firm but are still moist, and start to flake easily when tested with a fork.


Get Healthy – Eat Your Catch

Most Iowa fish are low in saturated fats, have high quality protein, and important vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy diet for all ages. Some fish can also have omega-3 fatty acids that help keep your heart healthy and develop a child’s brain. The American Heart Association recommends that you enjoy at least two servings of baked or grilled fish each week, especially oily fish. Eating fish may protect against many diseases and illnesses in adults, such as cancer, heart disease, dementia, diabetes, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, prostrate cancer, stroke, and autoimmune disease.


Catfish Filleting, 7min


Frying Catfish, 2.5min


Asian Carp - Filleting & Cooking
Missouri Conservation


A skillet full of freshly caught and fried panfish.