Fish Cleaning Station Etiquette

By Anietra Hamper

Feb 26, 2024

Public fish cleaning stations make it easy for anglers to clean their fresh catch and take it home for eating, but mindful etiquette is important in order to keep these stations ready for the next anglers who use them. Proper disposal of waste, clean-up and courteous behavior are just some of the ways anglers can keep public fish cleaning stations in working order.

There’s nothing better than catching your own fish to take home and eat but cleaning them can be a chore. Public fish cleaning stations are a great way to clean your catch before heading home and disposing of the mess in a convenient way, but it is important for anglers to exercise fish cleaning station etiquette to keep these spaces ready for the next anglers who want to use them.

Many states offer public fish cleaning stations around the popular fishing lakes and rivers. They generally come equipped with running water, a cleaning sink, filet table and disposal options that are ready for anglers to use. Being courteous when it comes to clean-up and behavior while using them is important for keeping these public spaces in good condition for all anglers.

Start by purchasing a valid fishing license for the state you plan to fish and enjoy your day on the water.


1. Get Organized

When it comes to fish cleaning station best practices having a process for cleaning your catch is important for staying organized. One way to maintain cleanliness at fish cleaning stations is to fillet your fish one at a time and pile them together in one area of the table. Collect your waste on another area of the table or put it into a bucket for disposal. Keep all your fish cleaning items like knives, buckets, and zip lock bags on the ground near you so you do not take up unneeded space on the cleaning table especially if you are sharing it with other anglers.

2. Be Quick

Since the fish cleaning stations are public spaces that are designed to offer convenience to anglers it is important to be quick and efficient while using them since there may be anglers waiting especially at the end of the day. If you are part of a group, let those who are doing the cleaning get in, get done and get out so that time is not wasted. Generally, proper fish cleaning station etiquette means keeping the number of people involved in the cleaning process to a minimum.


3. Be Polite

While there are no hard and fast rules, anglers who are cleaning fish at public stations should expect polite and courteous behavior from each other. This includes being mindful of language while using the public space and keeping check on the items you brought in with you. When it comes to parking it is best to find a designated spot and carry your catch to the cleaning station. Stations are generally located close to boat ramps and the closest parking spaces should be left for those taking boats in and out of the water. And, while your catch of the day might be Instagram-worthy, if other anglers are waiting to clean fish you may want to skip the photos until you get home.

4. Clean-up

Maintaining cleanliness at fish cleaning stations is one of the most important things to remember while using them. Once you’ve finished cleaning fish you want to make sure everything is washed thoroughly in the facility including the cleaning table, floor, and the grinder chute. Spray down the area with water. If other anglers are nearby, you can wipe down the tables with squeegees if they are available to avoid excess spray in the facility.


5. Disposing of waste

When it comes to fish cleaning station hygiene tips there is nothing more important than proper disposal of your waste. You want to leave nothing behind. Many fish cleaning stations have grinders or coolers where you can dispose of the waste. If a grinder is available you can dispose of fish carcasses one at a time by putting them in slowly, headfirst so it moves easily through the grinder. Be sure to keep hands clear of the grinder and let it run for about 45 seconds when you are finished to be sure everything has been disposed.

Anietra Hamper
Anietra Hamper
Anietra Hamper is a career television news anchor and investigative journalist turned award-winning travel writer, book author and speaker specializing in fishing and outdoor adventure. She travels the world fishing for unique species and is passionate about introducing others to angling and the outdoors.