The catch was brought ashore to the fish market and put into a 'live box,'
a large slotted wooden box held beneath the water at the market so the fish stayed alive until they were needed. When the seller was ready to dress some fish for sale, employees removed them from the live box with dip nets. They clubbed each fish on the head to kill it, used a few strokes of a knife to 'fleece the scales off,' chopped off the heads with hatchets, and split the belly open and scooped out the innards.
They placed the dressed fish in baskets, where they were hosed down, then packed in crushed ice in hand-made wooden "New York boxes," ready to be shipped by train. Catfish were dressed in a slightly different manner because workers had to beware of the catfish's horns; they circled the gills with a knife and used flat pincers to skin the fish.
(audio of this--female interviewee)