How to Choose the Best Fish Cleaning Table: A Fisherman’s Guide
Any good cook or craftsman knows the importance of having a good, reliable workstation. For fishermen who like to eat what they catch fresh, a fish cleaning table makes the process of prepping your catch for that evening’s dinner quicker, cleaner, and easier.
Fish cleaning tables are more than just a clear surface to work on. In this article, the team at Decks & Docks covers what you need to look for in a fish cleaning table, our favorite brands, important safety tips, and more.
Fish Cleaning Tables: The Basics
Fish cleaning is messy work—but the right cleaning station can cut down on the amount of time you spend descaling, deboning, and mopping up the mess. When selecting your next fish cleaning table, we recommend looking at three different factors: portability, surface materials, and add-on features.
1. Permanent vs. Portable
A permanent fish station is installed directly on your dock or patio and is great for those who regularly do a lot of fish prep at home. Permanent stations often come with a few extra bells and whistles, like water sprayers or cup holders. Because they’re meant to stay in one spot, permanent stations tend to be heavier and more resistant to the elements.
On the other hand, portable fish tables can be folded up and taken on the road. If you go on fishing trips or spend a lot of time at a marina, portable tables tend to be cheaper and lighter weight than dock-mounted stations. However, they may not be as stable or long-lasting.
2. Surface Material
You may like the look of high-end tables that feature butcher’s block surfaces, but we tend to prefer classic stainless steel or high-density polyethylene (HDPE).
Wood or butcher’s block surfaces are very porous, so they trap moisture and bacteria easily. They also require a lot of regular upkeep—which is made even more difficult by how heavy they tend to be.
However, surfaces made of stainless steel (like what you see in a professional kitchen) and HDPE are easier to clean. These materials are FDA-cleared for contact with food and won’t rot or decay over time.
In addition to the material, be on the lookout for table surfaces that have any small cracks or crevices around the screws or joints. These tiny spaces are hard to clean and can harbor bacteria. Look for tables that advertise a completely flat surface.
3. Add-on Features
The best fish cleaning station doesn’t necessarily need any added features… but a sprayer,tool drawer, or even a cup holder can add a pretty nice touch.
Some of the most common add-on features you’ll find on a fish cleaning table include:
- A sprayer or sink. Some dock-mounted fish stations come with a sink and faucet to aid with the clean-up process. Others may have a sprayer that can be hooked up to a hose.
- Knife rack. Tables might have an in-built knife rack or removable caddies. Most of these caddies aren’t designed to store knives, so be sure to have an appropriate storage container for transport.
- Storage shelves or drawers. Shelves and drawer units are great for holding odds and ends, but be aware they can contribute to the weight of portable fish cleaning tables.
- Cup holder. The ultimate creature comfort for any hot day on the water. Just remember—don’t drink and handle sharp knives.
The Best Fish Cleaning Table Brand
There are a ton of fish cleaning tables out there covering a huge range of prices and features. Here at Decks & Docks, we prefer Niagara tables.
Niagara tables are made of HDPE with marine-grade aluminum frames and sizing options to fit even the tiniest lakeside docks. The 2-leg Niagara tables feature plenty of elbow room without being too heavy—while the 6-leg tables are enough to make a sushi chef envious. Plus, they come with optional knife rack and cup holder attachments.
Fish Cleaning Safety Tips
The best fish table is meant to provide you with a stable space to use knives, but we encourage you to always keep safety in mind when using your fish cleaning station. Here are a few tips:
- Test the stability of your table. When installing a dock-mounted station or setting up a portable table, take a moment to check for wobbling or unevenness. Make sure all mounting brackets are screwed in tightly, and don’t set your table up on an uneven surface.
- Choose the right size and number of legs. You’ll find fish tables in a variety of shapes, sizes, and leg configurations. A portable 2-legged table might fit easily in your sedan, but if you’re angling for swordfish, a small table like that won’t cut it. If you’re not sure what size is right for you, give us a call and we’ll help you find what you need.
- Don’t skip the final wipe-down. Even though it may look clean, your table can harbor bacteria in tiny crevices or knife knicks. Always clear off your fish table fully when you’re done for the day and wipe the surface with a food-safe antibacterial cleaner.
You’re One Step Closer to a Fish Dinner
If you’ve made it to the end of this article, we know you love fishing as much as we do—and we’re excited to help you find a fish cleaning table that’s right for you!
Just click here to contact us and a member of our team will reach out to answer your questions and get you set up for your family’s next fish dinner.