Informational Guide

How To Bleed A Fish Correctly

Our guide is here to make this easier and help you learn how to bleed a fish to get the cleanest and tastiest meal around.

by Andrew

Informational Guide

How To Bleed A Fish Correctly

Our guide is here to make this easier and help you learn how to bleed a fish to get the cleanest and tastiest meal around.

by Andrew

by Andrew

Bleeding a fish is a good option for an angler to ensure that they have some of the best tasting fillets when they are done. This is an interesting process that can be done as soon as you catch the fish, but many anglers do not know how to bleed a fish in the first place.  

Our guide is here to make this easier and help you learn how to bleed a fish to get the cleanest and tastiest meal around.  

There are several reasons that you should consider bleeding your fish after you catch them, rather than waiting until later. Some of the main reasons include: 

Prevent Lactic Acid Build Up 

Lactic acid comes naturally in animals and can show up during intense exercise. When oxygen is not readily available in the blood, the lactic acid will show up. When your fish fights you in or out of the water, this lactic acid is going to start accumulating in the blood and can change the texture and flavoring of the flesh too. Bleeding the fish will help remove some of this lactic acid, making the flesh taste better than ever before.  

Reduce Discoloration Of Flesh 

When there is extra blood in the fish, it is hard for you to clean and prepare the flesh. The blood is able to get onto the meat and everything else that it touches. It is also possible for blood spots to show up on the meat, which can look bad when preparing the fish. When you remove the blood ahead of time, you will not need to worry about this discoloration showing up.  

Extend Shelf Life Before Eating 

Bleeding the fish can be a good way to help it last longer before you have to eat it. Since you take the time to clean the fish early on and remove the blood, the fish will stay fresh for longer. You will also need to freeze the fish for a bit after bleeding. All of these steps will keep the fish fresh and help it last longer before you need to eat. However, the taste of this type of fish is so good that you will want to eat it right away.  

How To Bleed A Fish (For Cleaner Eating After Catching)

Do You Have To Bleed The Fish Right After Catching It? 

It is best for you to bleed the fish right after you catch them. This will help to get the blood out of the fish as quickly as possible and will make the fillets as clean and tasty as possible. Doing this process early on after catching the fish is also the humane way to kill them, rather than allowing the fish to suffer. You can get the bleeding done and then store the fish on ice until later.  

How To Bleed The Fish (Simple Steps Explained) 

Bleeding a fish does not have to take a long time, but it can change the taste of your fish and make it taste amazing in no time. Some of the steps that you can take to start bleeding a fish include: 

1. Killing The Fish Humanely 

The first step is to kill the fish. To do this, locate the brain of the fish right behind its eye. Wait about 15 to 30 minutes after catching the fish to bleed it out. This makes it tired and stops it from moving around. Then put the fish on its side and hold it down. Feel for the area that is behind the eye of the fish to find the soft spot. This is the location of the brain.  

Take a knife and put this into the brain to help stun the fish, holding the fish the entire time. Push the knife into the skin and press it down into the brain. As soon as you slice into the fish, they will jerk or twitch, but they will stop soon. Push the knife all the way through to help sever the nerves.  

Once the fish stops moving, you will need to cut right behind the gills to help bleed the arteries out. You can lift up the gills to help lead the knife into the right area. Slice right through the fish around the gills, going from the bottom to the top. This helps you cut out the main arteries. You will need to do this on both sides. 

fresh fish on cutting board

Put the fish somewhere that allows them to bleed without it spilling everywhere.  

After they sit for a bit, dunk the fish into some cold water for half a minute to help drain the blood. Move the fish around in the water a bit to help get into the veins and rinse it all out. If a bucket is not available, you can rinse them off with a hose.  

2. Pressure Bleeding Your Fish 

The angler can also choose to pressure bleed the fish. To do this, cut off the fish's head to get to the main arteries. Place them on the side and hold them down. Take a pocket knife and put it right behind the gills. Cut from the belly to the spine. Flip the fish over and then do the same on the other side.  

As soon as you cut off the head, the fish will start to bleed. Make sure to place them somewhere that the blood will not get everywhere. Once the blood has drained, you can gut and clean the fish. You can make a slit in the center of the belly from the tail and cut to the throat. Stop an inch from the original cut when you remove the head of the fish.  

Pull the fish apart going on this slit and then scoop out the insides. Rinse the body out with a hose and some cold water. If you are still on the water in your boat, you can dip the fish in the water to rinse them out.  

When home, you can add a pipette to your hose and then place it into the arteries of the fish to help remove the rest of the blood. Rub the meat to help push the blood out more. A lower pressure is plenty for doing this. Once you see that the water runs out clear through the veins, you can turn off the water. Store the fish on ice until you are ready to serve.  

Does The Bleeding Of The Fish Affect Its Taste? 

Bleeding the fish will help you get a better taste out of the fish. When you compare a blood-free cut of fish with a fish that has blood still in it, you will be able to tell the difference between the taste. The fish without blood in it will taste so much better and will make it worth the few-minute wait as you get all of the blood out of the fish. When you want the best in taste for any type of fish, it is worth it to bleed the fish after catching them.  

cut fish meat ready to eat

Bleed A Fish FAQs

Can you bleed a dead fish? 

It is best for you to catch the fish, stun them, bleed them, and then gut and chill them as soon as possible. If you kill the fish before you bleed them, or you find the fish already dead, they will not bleed. This is because their heart is no longer beating, so there is no blood to come out.  

How long should it take to bleed a fish? 

Bleeding a fish is not going to take too long, though you will need to have a little bit of patience before you get started. It will take between 15 to 30 minutes to bleed the fish after catching them. This allows it some time to calm down and get exhausted before you finish the bleeding and then eat the fish.  

Why don’t fish bleed when you cut them? 

The fish will not bleed when you cut them because you have killed the fish. Once the fish is dead, their heart stops beating, which prevents the blood from pumping out of them. When you cut the fish, they will instantly die, so the bleeding will not happen.  

Why do fish bleed from their gills? 

Fish may bleed from the gills after undergoing some stress, such as being captured. The stress hormones can make the tissues around the gills softer, which makes it easier for these to bleed compared to some of the other areas of the fish.  


When you want to get the best taste out of any fish you catch, you need to consider bleeding the fish. This process can start right after you catch the fish and is done within half an hour. But the taste of the fish will be so much better than skipping this step. Consider taking the time to bleed the fish and enjoy the best in clean eating.