How to Fillet a Cobia and Waste Nothing | Great Days Outdoors

Hooking and landing a cobia isn’t an easy thing.  They are strong, hard fighting fish that are a challenge to catch, net or gaff, and boat. Once that fish is safely in the boat and all the pictures taken, it is now time for you to process that fish into beautiful cobia fillets for the table.   

Captain Richard Rutland of Cold Blooded Fishing in Mobile, Alabama has been fishing the local waters for over 15 years and, as a fishing guide he has professionally filleted thousands of fish. Cobia are one of his favorite species to target, and after cleaning hundreds of them, he’s identified a few tricks of the trade that will help you waste nothing and produce beautiful cobia fillets the next time you bring home a Ling

It goes without saying that in order to slice through a cobia’s tough skin, you need a sharp sturdy but flexible knife and a honing steel to touch it up as you go through the filleting process. The images in the tutorial below came from, “Filleting a Cobia Like a Pro”.  You can access the video over on the Alabama Saltwater Fishing Report Facebook Page or click on the image below. 

Cobia Fillets – Step One

Start behind the pectoral fin and cut downward to the backbone and then move the knife down the backbone and outline the fish.



For great cobia fillets, start behind the pectoral fin and cut downward to the backbone and then move the knife down the backbone and outline the fish.

Step Two

Flip the fish over and repeat this process on the other side.


Flip the fish over and repeat on the other side


It’s very important that you make your outline cuts on both sides of the fish before removing the first filet. Cobia have a thick body and wide head, if you remove one cobia filet before making your outline cuts, fileting the second side will be a challenge due to the severe angle created by the sagging spine.

At this juncture you should have the cobia fillets outlined and ready to be removed.


Step Three

Detach the rib bones from the spine


Detach the rib bones from the spine


Insert the knife so that the filet lies on top of and across the blade and cut horizontally towards the tail and freeing the filet. Having a strong, razor sharp knife is important to be able to break through the strong rib bones.

Step Four

Cut down past the ribs to remove the fillet from the skin


Cut down past the ribs to remove the fillet from the skin


Once you have the filet free make a vertical cut down the middle of the filet (cut the filet in half) down to the skin, but not through it.  Flip the blade flat so one side is sitting on the skin and, and with the blade pointing away from you, cut horizontally to free the skin. Repeat the process for the other half of the filet.

Now, you should have four cobia fillets, two of which will be belly sections.

The belly sections of the filet can be a little bit challenging as you have to cut around the rib bones.

Step Five “Dividing the Filet”

To remove the top loin slice from the belly sections, slice the filet horizontally from front to back

Fillet belly meat away from the rib bones from top to bottom


To get the best cuts of meat from the belly, first flip the belly meat so that the skin (removed) side is up. Make a cut down the lateral line until you hit the rib bones. Next, “filet” the meat from the rib bones like you would from the back bones. This is the most challenging cobia fillet cut, but done correctly it will yield a boneless, skinless belly cut that is excellent eating.

Step Six:  “The Payoff”

Your result for each fish should be six different cobia fillets and cuts, All DELICIOUS!!

You are now left with six meaty and delicious fillets


Enjoy and be sure to come down and check out the Great Days Outdoors / Alabama Saltwater Fishing Report / Killer Dock Fish cleaning Station at the 86th Annual Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo scheduled for July 19-21st 2019 on Dauphin Island, AL. Founded in 1929 the three day tournament attracts over 3,000 anglers and 75,000 spectators and will award almost a million dollars in prizes and cash.  

A project of the Mobile Jaycees, the ADSFR has donated over $275,000 to the University of South Alabama Department of Marine Sciences and annually funds academic scholarships.  For information call the Mobile Jaycee Office at (251) 471-0025 or online at

Important Contact Info:

Captain Richard Rutland has been fishing the waters around Mobile Bay for over fifteen years.  For more information contact Cold Blooded Fishing at (251) 459-5077 or online at

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