How to Kill a Catfish Instantly and Humanely (Step-by-Step Guide)

Killing a catfish is more difficult than it sounds, especially with its slipperiness, tendency to move a lot, and the possibility of getting stung or harmed. Finding a fast and easy way to kill the fish without being painful for it is easier said than done, but luckily, there is an easy way to do it that not many people know it.

Pithing is the instant and humane way to kill the catfish by using a sharp and pointed knife to cut the spine behind the head. This way, in addition to being painless for the catfish, is also fast and easy for the cook. It also makes the fish tastes better and lasts longer.

Continue reading to know how to kill a catfish step by step, the tools you will need, and why this method is so much better for you (which is why it’s used in high-end restaurants).

How to Kill a Catfish Instantly and Humanely?

man with knife on catfish to show how to kill a catfish instantly

Whether you catch the catfish by yourself or you bought it from the market-fresh. You will need to kill the fish to make it ready to cook because cooking the catfish alive is one the worst ideas you might get.

Here is a step-by-step guide to killing the catfish instantly and humanely:

Step 1 (pithing)

Make sure that you are holding the fish in the right position and you control its body, then whack the fish’s head.

Step 2

Use a sharp-pointed knife to pose it on the top of the catfish’s brain and backbone.

To make it painless for the fish, push it down to the fish’s brain bore in a quick move.

Step 3

Then, around the head of the catfish, cut through the skin. But don’t take the head off; you can save the head for later.

Step 4

After that, remove the fins. Cut off the back portion and the fish stomach.

The fin size and thickness of the catfish depend on where they grow up. If they grow up on a farm, the fins will be small and soft, but if they grow up in the wild, they will be tough to remove.  So, take care you might get injured, while removing it.

Step 5

Use your plier to remove the fish skin.

If the fish is young the skin will be thin and easy to remove. You may don’t need to use the pliers unless the fish is big and has thick skin. 

Step 6

Now, do you remember the head that you have cut around? Go back to this spot and cut it with the knife. Make sure that your knife is sharp because this area is thick.

Step 7

After removing the head,  you must make a hole in its belly. Anything and everything else should be removed.

Step 8

Make sure the fish is well-cleaned before cooking it.

Here is a simple video showing you how to do it (and why this method is so much better than leaving the fish to suffocate to death)

How to Kill a Catfish Quickly?

If you want to kill a catfish quickly, you can use the old way to kill a fish which is a strong bonk to the head, and the fish won’t suffer in this method because the fish dies immediately.

This way is easy for anyone who doesn’t have any tool to kill a fish; you can use any heavy rock or wooden shape to hit the fish’s brain.

The Most Humane Way to Kill a Catfish 

While there are a lot of ways to kill a catfish, There are only two humane ways of killing a catfish that are approved by fishermen and animal humane society, which are the pithing and freezing way.

The pithing way is to Place a knife’s pointed end right over the catfish’s brain and push it down fast to the brain bore. This is typically a safe and quick technique.

The freezing way, if you like fishing and you have an icebox to freeze your fish, this is also a humane way to kill your fish. But, it is not as quick as the pithing way.

Why Do You Need to Kill Catfish?

While fish can only live in the water, they could survive for hours outside of water, which is painful for any fish. So if you are planning to eat this catfish and not release it, you will need to kill the fish once you catch it.

Some people may tell you to cook the catfish even if it is alive but this is very painful for the fish and you will be terrified by the fish movement while you cook. The common way of throwing the fish in some ice and leaving it to suffocate is also inhumane as it can take hours for the fish to die.

The suffocation method is the most commonly used method in the world, and most people in the world have only eaten fish caught this way, but as a fisherman, you can do better, and your taste buds (as well as those of your family) will absolutely love the taste of the fish killed using the Pithing or Ike Jime way.

Did you know that catfish can also bite even when outside of water? I discuss this more in this post on why do catfish bite humans.

How to Remove the Gut of a Catfish after Killing It?

After killing the catfish you will need to remove the gut of the catfish to be able to cook it. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Cut under the gill plate through the skin from the neck to the hole on the belly till the tail.
  2. Cutting any ligaments that tie to the fish
  3. Make sure that you won’t cut the gallbladder cause if you cut it, your catfish taste will be bitter.
  4. Use the empty hole after properly cleaning it.

Also, check out this post on how to tell if catfish has gone bad and how to make them last longer to make them into a delicious meal.

What You Will Need to Kill a Catfish

Killing a catfish in a quick and humane way will require some essential tools and materials. Here are the materials you will need:

  1. Pair of gloves

You will use sharp tools that may injure your hand, so a pair of gloves will keep your hands safe.

I recommend the gloves from BIG WORM FISHING. They are super affordable, and for the price, there really aren’t any better-made gloves out there.

  1. Sharp knife 

With this knife, you will need to make the killing process fast and painless for the fish.

  1. Big knife

This is used to clean the catfish’s gut and fins and to cut off the head. 

  1. Fishing pliers

You will use it to remove the catfish’s thick skin.

Outdoorskilled’s Recommended Gear for Superb Catfishing

I’ve testeI’vezens of reels, rods, and lines for Catfishing, and after years of testing, here are my quick picks that will definitely improve your current setup and results!

My recommended reel is the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Reel C3-7000 which is ideally suited for catfish.

The rod I always recommend is the KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rod. It’s lightIt’sht, durable, and affordable. Furthermore, you’d haveyou’dde selection of models to choose from, whether you’re looyou’reor a spinning or casting rod. Lastly, it comes in twin-tips models, which means you’ll be you’llg two rods rather than one.

What I use is the Berkley Trilene Big Game Monofilament Fishing Line as it’s the sit’sgest, toughest mono I’ve ever I’veed and because it has exceptional shock strength, great knot integrity, tremendous abrasion resistance, and a high-visibility color option, you really can’t findcan’ter options

Related Questions 

Where Do You Hit or Stab a Catfish to Kill it?

Hitting the catfish on their brains is the fastest way to kill the fish, and follow it by cutting the fish gills. If you are a fisherman and you catch a catfish, don’t remove the hook without hitting the fish because once you remove the hook, the fish will use what remains of its power to jump in the water again.

How Long Does It Take for Catfish to Die?

Some catfish survive for 18 hours after being out of the water. While some fish have a low survival rate when taken out of the water, which is almost three hours, this depends on the fish’s ability to obtain oxygen via their skin. 

Can We Eat Catfish? 

We can eat catfish because it has great nutritional value, and It’s a tasty kind of fish that’s simple to prepare and has a delicate flavor, making it an ideal cooking fish.

Wrap up

Although one of the benefits of fishing is having a fresh component for a wonderful dinner, you should also evaluate if the handling procedure is done humanely. 

The most humane way to kill a catfish is the pithing method, but make sure to prepare the tools and materials needed to kill this fish: (Pair of gloves, a Sharp knife, a Big Knife, and Fishing pliers).

If you don’t have the tools for the pithing way, a quick strong bonk to the head can kill the fish in a painless few minutes.

Helpful Resources 

The right way to kill a fish

Do Fish Feel Pain

Resources for Catching Catfish Faster and More Easily

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