How to Fillet a Flat Fish (Like a Halibut)

  1. Place the fish on a large, flat, clean surface with the dark side facing up (the top of the fish). Carefully make a clean cut around the head, then make one long incision straight down the length of the fish to cut the center line, through to the backbone.
  2. Insert the knife at the head end underneath the flesh, and make long, smooth, even cuts against the backbone toward the fin edge of the fish. Use a slight angle and keep the cuts as close to the bone as possible. Remove the fillet.
  3. When the first fillet is removed, continue with the next fillet, then the opposite side of the fish.
  4. With a flat fish, you will end up with four fillets.

How to Fillet a Round Fish (Like a Trout)

  1. Lay the fish down on a large, flat, clean surface. Lift the gill and grasp the fish firmly. Cut at an angle down to the backbone, but do not sever.
  2. Run the knife along the backbone towards the tail, keeping the knife flat against the backbone, remove the fillet from the bones cleanly.
  3. Carefully lift the fillet up from the rib cage. Turn the fish over, and repeat with the second fillet.
  4. With a round fish, you will end up with two fillets.


John’s motto is ‘release it unharmed or do it justice on the plate.’ Executive Chef, photographer, and surfer, John photographs ocean marine life when he’s out fishing, and creates masterpieces in the kitchen with what he keeps on deck. His photo works have been used in OEHHA Fish Advisories, National Geographic presentations, and nonprofit marine life groups. When he’s not fishing, he’s making great BBQ. Visit him at, and send him a message using the contact form using the link above.