Choosing An Outdoor Fish Cleaning Station
There are a whole bunch of fish cleaning sinks available to buy these days. We are going to offer help choosing an outdoor fish cleaning station with sink. There are a lot of things to consider before you actually make that purchase. After reading this information, you may even decide to build your own fish sink.
Basic Fish Sink Functions
The ultimate goal is to have a sink where you can clean your fish. This sink should also probably have some kind of bar or table for work space. Just remember that any outdoor sink will work. The purpose is to use the water to clean the fish after its gutted.
This fish station should also have features that meet the needs of the user. Every fisherman is different, so you will want to pick the sink that fits your fishing styles.
What Size Sink Do You Need?
When you are thinking about what size sink you need, think about the fish you catch. Another good thing to consider is how you clean your fish.
Biggest Fish Sink Options
If you fish for catfish, bass or any other potential giant fish, your going to need a giant sink. A good size channel catfish can easily be 3 or 4 foot long. Ideally the sink for you would have a 3 to 4 foot sink tub. Your simply not going to be happy with a standard fish cleaning station.
A commercial size fish cleaning sink would actually be the best suited sink for people that normally go for the big fish. This same size sink can also work for people that enjoy deep sea fishing.
Just remember that if you do not have the right size fish sink, its not going to work for you. If your catch is bigger than your sink, it wont fit. In the long run, you will still be cleaning your monster fish crouched over with the water hose.
Smaller Fish Sink Options
Most fisherman normally catch fish around 12 inches. This kind of fish is also known as “pan size”. Pan fish are easy to clean and do not require much sink space. A standard 12″ to 24″ will do the job just fine.
The issue with cleaning 12″ fish is that there are usually more than 1. These are the fish that come in baskets. Fisherman will normally make a day of fishing for these everyday fish.
Crappie is one of the most popular for this example. The Texas limit for crappie is 25 fish per day. If you hit that 25 fish limit, then you have a lot of fish to clean.
If you need a smaller sink, then you should pay extra attention to the available work space. To get the most out of a small fish cleaning station, consider the bar or counter space as a top priority. Having a tiny work area could make fishing cleaning harder to do in that station.
Sink Water Supplies
There are 3 basic options to feed water into a fish cleaning station. Off the grid, water hose or by running it with PVC pipe. You should know how you will be supplying water to your fish cleaning station before buying one.
Off The Grid Water
The off the grid “gravity fed” water supply is the perfect option for any fish station off the grid. Places like lakeside, cabins, campgrounds or mountains are some great candidates. These are spots just do not have access to water pipes.
To get water to feed a fish cleaning station off the grid, its best to go with a gravity fed water supply. To get this, you can just raise a water storage container above the level of the sinks faucet. Its a fairly simply way to get water. You would just add water to the storage container, then turn it off an on to release water as needed.
The cons about using the off the grid water supply would be maintaining water. You would to attach it to a rain water collection system, or haul water in from other places. There is generally more labor involved with just keeping enough water on hand.
If somehow you had continuous natural water flow available, from a stream it would be somewhat easy. You could set up your fish cleaning station near the stream, then feed the natural water into the sink. Then when you do not need water, just feed it back into the stream.
The good thing is that usually off the grid water is usually easy to set up. Just have a plan and look at water attachments to be sure that they will work.
Standard Water Hose Sink
Having a garden water hose for an outdoor sink supply is pretty common. A hose is one of the fastest ways to connect any fish sink. Just attach and turn on the water. Make sure that your sink has all of the necessary attachments to connect to standard garden hose.
This also just happens to be how we have our own fish cleaning sink set up. There is an endless supply of water with good pressure. While set up is fast and easy, there is room for improvement.
We use our fish cleaning sink for more than just cleaning fish. Just about any kind of work we do in our yard includes using the sink. It also comes in handy for BBQs, house guest, gardening and repair work. It’s an almost everyday sink for our house.
The biggest problem we have with our hose fed fish sink is turning the water off every time. If the water is constantly on at the spout, then the hose could burst from the high water pressure. So we always turn off the water hose when we are not using the sink.
We have added a control valve at the sink, so we can turn the water off. If we need to turn if off for a few minutes we use this control valve instead of turning the hose off. When we get done with everything, then we turn off the hose from the spout.
Connecting Sink To PVC Pipes
You can also run PVP pipes directly to your fish cleaning station. This is actually one of my most favorite ways to get water. PVC pipes can be fitted and glue to your fish cleaning station, then tapped into your main water supply.
Many times fish cleaning stations will need to be customized to attach to PVC pipes. The generic garden hose connections will need to be removed to allow for the PVP to have a strong connection that will withstand the water pressure.
I like this method because the connection is just about as strong as you can get. The final results are just like how a kitchen of bathroom sink is connected. Its a “worry free water supply”. Once the water is connect to PVC, you should never have any issues at all.
The downside to having a fish station connected by PVC is that it is no longer portable. You will need to leave your sink in the same spot. Zero portability. There is also all the extensive labor and additional cost to think about when using a permanent PVC water connection.
Getting Rid Of The Dirty Fish Water
Drainage from your fish sink can be a tough problem. Its a stinky muddy mess, that can not go ignored. Technically the drainage from a fish cleaning station is considered to be “black water”. Black water is the same as sewage or a bio hazard.
This is because of the “organic mater” in the water. Even though the waste is not human waste it is still waste from fish. Fish blood, scales and organs do rot and cause unpleasant odors.
There are really only 2 ways to get rid of the dirty waste from a fish cleaning station. You can deposit the dirty fish water into a sewer or you can re purpose the waste.
Sink Drainage Into Sewer
To discard the fish sink waste into a sewer system, you would need to tap the drain into a city sewer or septic tank. If the fish waste goes into the septic, it will breakdown along with the human waste. City sewers will direct the waste to the waste facility for that area.
Using the city sewer may involve costly plumbing services and city inspections. On the bright side, you will never smell the dirty fish water. Septic draining are very similar. You could expect to pay additional septic services if issues arrive from the additional waste.
Repurpose Your Fish Waste
This is when your fish station drainage is used instead of discarded as waste. We use this method ourselves. It’s actually very effective and beneficial for many uses.
Lets start with the fish guts. This is all of the insides of the fish that get pulled out during cleaning. There are many ways to reuse fish guts.
- Catfish bait
- Food for raccoons
- Organic plant fertilizer
We just happen to use all 3 of these ideas to repurpose fish guts. Our garden stays healthy and our wildlife stays fed. Lots of times we will dig a hole in our lawn, then bury a bowl of fish guts. Other times we may toss the fish guts in our property tree line for the raccoons. If we keep the critters in the trees, they tend to stay away from our home.
With the water run off, there really is not much meat, because we keep the guts separate. Of course all of the blood goes down the drain and there are also some scales. We basically just let that waste stay on the ground. Instead of collecting that waste, we planted some banana trees in the run off. Banana trees soak up all of the organic materials in soil.
Collecting Your Waste Water In A Bucket?
If you plan to collect the waste water in a 5 gallon bucket, be prepared. What are going to do with the bucket of waste? There are a few things you could do with the waste.
If you are at the lake, you could throw the fish guts back into the lake. The other fish in the lake will eat it all up. You may even find it as a useful attractant while your catching fish. Just throw it in the area where you are fishing, and fish will come to you.
If you are at home, you might want to dig a hole to bury your waste. The fish guts and blood work wonders for a garden or lawn. You can also flush the waste down the toilet. The toilet will carry the waste into the sewer.
Where To Put Your Outdoor Fish Cleaning Station
There are a lot of things to think about when you are deciding to place your fish cleaning sink. If you choose the wrong location, you could have serious problems later.
- Water Supply
- Shelter From Weather
- How Often You Will Use It
- Drainage is important, because of the access water. If you plan to attach to a sewer, then you should place it near the sewer line. If you are allowing of runoff or collecting with a bucket, you should place in a less traveled area.
- You should also place your fish cleaning station near a water supply. If you are connecting to a natural water source, then you will need to be near that source. Collecting rainwater would be best by your rain storage containers. If you are using a water hose, then you can be anywhere within reach of your hose.
- The fish cleaning station should be accessible year round. If you do not have a roof for your sink, think about shade trees. A wall blocking the wind can also be a good shelter choice.
- The amount of times you will actually use your fish station is a big factor. If you want to just use it “sometimes” a portable fish cleaning table may be the perfect solution for your needs. You can just store it, when your not using it. If you intend to use it at least a few times a week, a more permanent fish sink is probably the best option. Consider a more expensive model or DIY project.
Final Thoughts About Choosing An Outdoor Fish Cleaning Station
Before you even purchase a fish cleaning station, you really need to imagine how it will work for you. Not every fish cleaning sink is right for everyone.
You should not need to change too much to have a fish station. The purchase is meant to make your life easier, not more complicated.
Our fish cleaning station is a DIY model. We did not purchase plans, we just started with a fish sink. Then over time, we modified it to meet our families needs. See Best Outdoor Fish Cleaning Sink