Picture this. You spend the day on your boat battling the elements and the tarpon. Towards evening, you return to the dock tired but also excited about your upcoming fish dinner.
The dock contains a fish cleaning station. It is covered in old fish slime and knife gauges from previous fishermen. Forced to construct a makeshift fish cleaning table, you place a cutting board on your cooler.
But it wobbles while you are filleting your fish. You cut your hand. Instead of going home to a nice dinner, you are now on your way to the emergency room.
A proper fish cleaning table prevents emergencies such as these and makes your fishing experience more pleasant. You can choose from many different styles and models, but how do you know which is the right one for you?
We’ve got you covered with our definitive guide below. Let’s go!
Fish Cleaning Tables: The Guide
Preparing your fish for dinner can be messy work. A sturdy surface that is easy-to-clean and weatherproof is essential to success.
Fish cleaning tables can be permanent fixtures on your dock or even on your boat. Portable models are also available.
Which style you choose depends on where you think you will be filleting your fish. Or where you would prefer to fillet your fish.
To help you decide, we’ve provided some key features to look for below.
Portable Models Versus Permanent Structures
If you think you will always prepare your fish in the same place, then a permanent fish cleaning table is for you. Portable tables, on the other hand, allow you to take your table with you wherever you go fishing.
Either way, your table needs to be strong, well-built, and long-lasting. Remember, you will be descaling, gutting, and then filleting your fish on its surface (you may also be preparing bait if you choose a boat model). Without a well-supported tabletop, you run the risk of hurting yourself.
Dockside and Other Permanent Models
There is no doubt that portable fish cleaning tables are convenient. But permanent structures provide greater stability.
They are attached to your dock or your boat. Some models have two legs, and some have four. High-quality tables are made of stainless steel or aluminum. Aluminum, in particular, is resistant to sea water and salt air corrosion.
Some dockside models have curved bases that move the table top right over the water. This allows for easy drainage and also conserves space.
You can also add accessories to a permanently attached table. Drawers will keep your knives and fishing gear within easy reach. More importantly, though, a cup holder keeps your cold drink always at hand.
Some boat fish cleaning tables fall in between a permanent and portable structure. These models have a pole that slides into your rod holder. The table top is still sturdy, even though it can be removed and put somewhere else.
Portable Fish Cleaning Tables
A portable table allows you to clean your fish right away when you are out fishing. That way, you don’t have to cart the fish home and clean them there.
Many portable fish cleaning tables have a faucet that you can connect and disconnect. You can hook it up to a hose and use a bucket or even a lake for drainage.
Finally, portable models are lightweight and easy to fold into a flat shape for transport. They can be moved without much difficulty. If you are low on storage space, you can shove them into a tight spot.
The Table Top
The tabletop is where you will do the bulk of your gutting and filleting work. Its height should be a good fit for you. This will enable you to work safely and efficiently.
A well-made table top surface will be non-porous, easy-to-clean, and weather-resistant. There shouldn’t be any cracks or crevices, either at the time of purchase or after repeated cutting. You don’t want any bacteria getting caught in the little spaces and contaminating your fish.
In fact, you should be able to clean any quality tabletop easily. A table surface that is difficult to clean is not worth the money.
Look for a table top made of FDA-approved polyethylene. That kind of plastic has been approved for food service. It will not degrade as it comes in contact with various fish parts over time.
It also resists corrosion and has the ability to fight off microorganisms. These features will ensure your next catch doesn’t pick up nasty bacteria from your last fish meal.
What’s more, it’s helpful to have a water source attachment and a sink or drainage area. Many table tops are slanted so that fish parts and water drain off. It is amazing how much easier it is to keep your table clean with a running water source.
Sturdy and Resists Impacts
Whether your table is portable or a permanent structure, it must be sturdy. You don’t want to be gutting your fish, only to have the entire structure (along with the entrails) fall to the ground or all over your dock.
Even a portable table should not wobble. Permanent structures can be mounted securely with provided brackets and flanges to your dock.
Remember also that the surface of your table is going to be hammered by very sharp knives. It must be able to resist these heavy blows. Any knife line can lead to bacterial invasion.
You’re On Your Way to a Fish Dinner
Now you have everything you need to know about fish cleaning tables. Instead of setting up a cutting board on your cooler, why don’t you invest in a table that allows you to safely fillet your fish?
You can install a sturdy, weather-proof table on your boat or your dock. Or take a portable one with you while surfcasting.
Either way, your meal will be ready-to-go before leaving the beach. Then, you can cook your freshly-caught fish almost as soon as you arrive home!
We carry a selection of high-quality, sturdy, and weather-resistant fish cleaning tables. They are all suitable for your dock.
We have other accessories as well and would love to hear from you. Why not contact us today?