Fish Cleaning Station Dos & Don’ts – Don’t Be That Guy…

It took some time, maybe even decades, but boaters have really figured out the dos and don’ts at the boat ramp. We all have seen it, that guy who backs down the ramp and unloads all his stuff and starts undoing everything. It’s definitely not a common thing to see anymore. Maybe those guys have gotten enough verbals over time and learned if you want to survive to back your boat down a ramp again that you do not do that. 

However, now I’m seeing a new irritating thing that needs to be addressed. This one isn’t as stressful or time-sensitive, but for a guy like me who makes his living as a full-time fisherman, time is money.  So before I give my thoughts on this subject, I want everyone to understand I’m not trying to be that guy who thinks he’s more important. It’s not that at all! Remember, I’m fishing every day, so I see these things pretty much every day. I’m merely trying to help educate folks on proper fish cleaning station manners.

For most, this is the ending of a great day on the water. You are rewarded for your hard work and efforts. The hunter-gatherer instincts are on full point and propellers are excited about the catch.

Here are the things that drive me crazy at a fish cleaning station ( Common Fish Cleaning Station Ethics ): 

  • Don’t be that group that all stands at the table while one guy cleans the fish. Look around you, I’m guessing there are guys sitting in their boats or standing behind you waiting to get a spot at the table. Let the guy who is cleaning the fish do so and move away from the table to let the next guy get in. 
  • Don’t be the assembly line fish cleaners. Again, these fish cleaning stations are not usually big enough and you may feel like you’re speeding things along. You may be speeding it up for your group, but you are actually holding up the others who would like to get on the table to clean their fish.
  • Don’t be the fine de-boners and peelers. First off, here in North Dakota, it’s illegal to pin your fish. Once you take the pin bones out and split the fillet in half you’ve actually now made that one fillet into two. If transporting those fillets you are going to be over your limit. There is plenty of time to do this fine detail work for your fish in the comfort of your kitchen or your camper. 
  • Don’t be the table hoarder and put all your cleaning stuff like the fish bag or net with all your fish on the table. Again, this is taking space away from someone else from getting on the table to clean fish. Place all your tools for the trade like knife boxes, zip locks, buckets, bowls, etc. on the ground directly behind you. This will keep the table free and clear. 
  • Don’t be the table picture takers. If you have ever read my reports or followed me on Facebook, you will see a lot of these pictures. The only time I will do this is if I’m alone and not tying anyone up. Most places have a hanging board or place to take pictures of your catch. 
  • Don’t be the Bassmaster Classic indoor weigh-in guy. What I mean by this is most fish cleaning stations have signs on them telling you not to park your trucks and boats in front of the station to unload your catch. As happy as you are of the awesome day on the water you just had, please find a spot back in the lot out of the way to get your fish out of the livewell. Fish bags and for me, Rubbermaid bins work great for carrying your catch to the table. 
  • And don’t be that guy that decides to spray the table off when everyone is still cleaning fish.  You will get everyone VERY wet, quickly.  They put squeegees at most tables, use that instead.  I can take a shower later. 😉

Last but not least… Please don’t be that guy I catch at the table at noon and again at 7. If you took others out and you’re within your legal limit that is just fine. I have done double trips myself. But if you’re cleaning an extra limit for yourself I’m gonna report it to the ND Game and Fish. Our waters are not an endless resource. It’s my hope my children can enjoy this great fishing when they are old like me.

These are some simple cleaning station ethics that I think go a long way with others.

Fish Cleaning Station Ethics

Editor’s Note: Mike Peluso is a full-time guide in North Dakota.  You can find out more from Mike and book a trip at

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