How To Clean and Cook Bluegill and Other Sunfish

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pan fried sunfish fillets
pan fried sunfish fillets

Sunfish are simple to catch, easy to clean and make a delicious meal. Try serving sunfish fillets with fresh summer tomatoes and a simple side dish such as rice or cole slaw. Always keep fresh fish cold before cooking.

Cleaning Sunfish

1. Scale the fish with a fish scaler or dull knife. While holding the fish with one hand, use the tool to remove all scales. You must run the scaler or knife from tail to head in order to get the scales off. The skin should be smooth when all scales are gone.

To Clean Whole Fish:

2. Cut the fish’s head off. make the cut at the back of the fish’s gills. Cut through at this point.

3. Cut from the belly back to the vent, avoiding all organs. Remove all organs, saving the fish roe if any is found.

4. Cut off the tail and fins.

To Fillet Fish:

2. Cut behind the gill, from back down to flank.

3. Holding the fish firmly, slice forward from the tail fin to the vent (about 1-2 inches), making a clean cut down to the bone.

4. Working from the top, slice along the skeleton, connecting from head to tail. Follow downward, cutting the meat away from the ribs.

Rinse the fish and place on ice immediately.

Pan Fried Sunfish


8-12 fillets or 4-6 whole fish
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cooking oil
salt and pepper to taste


1. Rinse and drain fillets.

2. Soak fillets in a mixture of egg and milk.

3. Using a zipper bag, shake fillets in flour, salt and pepper.

4. Fry in oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.