How to Clean and Cook Fish While Camping

Many camping trips involve fishing. On such trips, one of the major challenges usually involves cleaning and cooking the fish onsite. In this simple how-to, we will provide pointers on how to clean and cook fish while camping.

Necessary Utensils

Many fishing locations do not have a specific fish cleaning area. You would need some basic resources to properly clean and cook your fish.

  • A knife

  • Potable water source

  • Container/bucket for discarded parts

  • A frying pan

  • Plastic storage bags

  • Aluminum foil (if applicable)

  • Wood

How to Clean Fish While Camping

Follow these simple steps if you want to clean and keep the whole fish:
  1. Remove Slime from the Fish: It is very likely that you have a layer of slime on the fish you just caught. You need to wash off this layer first. This slime contains some bacteria growth and parasites. You should wash the slime off with water or a mix of salt and water before slicing into the fish.
  2. Remove the Fish Scales: The next step is the removal of scales from the body of the fish. Use the blunt edge of a knife to scrape off the scales. Use short strokes against the direction of the scales from the tail to the head. Do this for both sides. Rinse the fish after this.
  3. Clean out the Fish: The final step of cleaning the fish is to remove the entrails of the fish with your fingers. Remove the intestines, liver and every other internal organ. Clean the inside of the fish thoroughly, rinse it and wash out any blood.

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How to Cook Fish While Camping

Fish can be cooked in a variety of ways at the camp site. You can grill it in a foil, boil the fish or fry the fish. You can also choose to skewer it over coals.

  • Grilling: Start a campfire or charcoal grill. Add lemon pepper and garlic seasoning to the fish if available. Wrap the fish in a heavy duty aluminum foil. If you are using a lighter aluminum foil, wrap the fish twice. Place the fish on top of the grill rack or hot coals. Turn the fish over after five minutes. The fish should be ready to eat after a total of about ten minutes.

how to cook fish while camping Photo credit © Can Stock Photo | sasimotophotos

  • Boiling: Boil water in a pan. Add the fish. You can add onions and a little seasoning if available. Let it boil for a few minutes. Test the fish with a fork or a knife to know if it is ready.

  • Frying: Pour some oil into a frying pan and place it over the campfire. Once the oil gets hot enough, place the fish in the frying pan. Turn the fish frequently to avoid any part getting burnt. When the fish turns brown, it is ready to eat. 

  • Skewering: Start by poking a skewer into the fish. Place the skewer on top of hot coals. Turn the fish regularly to ensure that all sides are well-cooked. After a few minutes, take the fish off the fire.

  • Baking: You can choose to bake the fish in clay if you desire. Smear the fish with clay. Then let the clay dry and harden until it is no longer sticky. Now add another layer of clay. Place the clay-wrapped fish on hot coals. Let it cook for about an hour. Then, you can break the clay to expose the cooked fish.

There is no ideal method for cooking fish while camping. The idea is to vary the method used as much as possible in order to enjoy variety. To learn more about fishing gear and equipment, fishing techniques, how to get a fishing license and more, visit
posted by
Johana Reyes
Johana Reyes is the Digital Content Manager at Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, and thereby improve public awareness and appreciation of the need to protect, conserve and restore this nation's aquatic natural resources. She maintains the digital assets in English and Spanish for and
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