How To Fillet Spanish Mackerel (And Get Rid Of The Fishy Taste)


Want to learn how to fillet Spanish mackerel the easy way?

These fish often get a bad rap for tasting “fishy,” but if you do it right, you’ll be left with nice white fillets that are surprisingly delicious (especially as fish tacos).

Spanish mackerel can be tricky to properly clean because of their delicate skin and small scales, but in this video, you’ll learn:

  • How to fillet them and get the most meat possible
  • How to skin and debone them
  • The simple trick that takes a lot of the fishy taste out of them
  • What to do after you clean them to make sure they taste amazing

To learn how to clean Spanish mackerel, watch the video below.

How To Fillet Spanish Mackerel [VIDEO]

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Before you start cleaning your fish, it’s important to start with a sharp knife.

This will make your job cleaning them a lot easier.

Now let’s get into the steps.

Step 1: Fillet the fish

Cut the fish behind the pec fin, turn the blade, and slide it down towards the tail.

By keeping the knife close to the backbone, you’ll maximize the meat you get off of them.

Step 2: Cut the rib cage out

Once the fish are filleted, cut the rib cage out, but be sure to do so on an angle to leave more meat on the fillet.

Step 3: Skin the fillets

The key here is to keep the handle of the blade off of the edge of the table.

This will help the blade stay parallel and close to the skin, so you leave the most amount of meat on the fillet.

Another tip is to slightly angle the blade up so you don’t cut through the skin.

Step 4: Cut the bloodline out

When people complain of a “fishy” flavor, it’s mostly due to this bloodline, so if you cut it out you’ll have better-tasting fish.

Step 5: Cut into thirds to make fish fingers (optional)

Cutting the fillets into fish fingers makes cooking them very easy.

Step 6: Rinse off the fillets

It’s better to put saltwater fish in saltwater than freshwater, so toss the fillets in a bucket of saltwater as you wrap up filleting the rest of the fish.

Step 7: Bag them up!

If you’re traveling far, make sure to put the bags of fish on ice.


how to clean spanish mackerel

In case you were wondering, yes the fish tacos we made with these mackerel were delicious!

When you’re filleting Spanish mackerel, make sure to remove the rib cage, bloodline, and skin to get rid of the fishy taste.

Also, rinse them off in saltwater to preserve meat quality and keep them on ice if you’re not cooking them immediately.

Have any questions about filleting Spanish mackerel?

Let me know in the comments below!

And if you’re in the Florida Keys and you want to get on some mackerel with Capt. Hollywood and his crew, you can get in touch with them at

Know someone who needs to learn how to fillet Spanish mackerel? Please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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matthew brand
3 years ago

great advice as always. Thank you. Any tips on keeping your knife razor sharp?

Paul Lecat
2 years ago
Reply to  matthew brand

As you learn where the bones are, avoid running the blade into the bone. If you are gentle with the knife and let it do the work, it will stay sharper.

The other thing is to wipe the knife of scales and other debris frequently and give it a couple of wipes on a steel every few fish!

Hope this helps!

Last edited 2 years ago by Paul Lecat
James McKinney
3 years ago

Mackerel and Kings also makes great smoked fish. If smoking leave the skin on – you can still remove the blood line and if you smoke the fish on brown paper like butchers paper of a paper bag the skin will remain on the paper after smoked. Makes great fish dip. I brine mine over night and add a little brown sugar right before putting in the smoker. Fillets can be frozen until you have time or a big enough batch to make a smoker full.

Vincent C Ruggiero
3 years ago

My post is worthless because all it is is a huge compliment – it was a joy to watch and learn from you! [Ok here is one tip: talk even More (to offset that other silly post saying talk less ????- I mean, wtheck?!?!]

3 years ago

he did a very fast and good job on how to clean them. on you tube i asked what kind of knife he uses as that was supper sharp and i want one. thanks for sharing this video.

3 years ago

Way too much talking

Richard Fiorentino
3 years ago

Great Video ! you should have filmed the eating at the Restaurant.

Richard Fiorentino
3 years ago
Reply to  Joseph Simonds


Thomas Herzog
3 years ago

Another great video. I would love for the Salt Strong brothers to put together an entire course on the best ways to prepare all different types of fish. Everything from proper storage, how best to filet that particular species, and a few recipes for each all in one location.

Thomas Manley
3 years ago

This was a great demonstration of how to fillet the macks but, I would have like it much better if he would cut the carcasses up when throwing in the water due to the Pelicans can choke on them and get them caught in the throat. We always cut the heads off separately from the body so that the head will usually sink and go the fish below. Thanks

john simkunas
3 years ago

awesome video Hollywood !!! love the skinning trick

Pedro Carrillo
3 years ago

Captain, surprised that you fed the pelicans.comment image

Thomas Manley
3 years ago
Reply to  Pedro Carrillo

Sorry Pedro….I didn’t see your response before posting mine.


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