It may be an allusion to the confusion of bones, head and skin that is left in fish-kettles after the fish has been eaten.
In all likelihood there wasn't any specific connection between the saucepans and muddle.
As you may have realised, the expression 'a kettle of fish' doesn't refer to tea-kettles but to the long saucepans that have been used for centuries to poach whole salmon, namely fish-kettles.
The noun 'kettle of fish' is listed by several reference works as dating from 1745, although the earliest actual citation of the term in print that I can find is in Thomas Newte's "It is customary for the gentlemen who live near the Tweed to entertain their neighbours and friends with a Fete Champetre, which they call giving 'a kettle of fish'.
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The word 'picnic' (also French - 'pique-nique') was introduced around that date but wasn't widely used until a century or so later.
There's no obvious reason why a humdrum item of kitchen equipment was singled out as the source of a phrase meaning 'muddle or mess'.Nobody is really sure where the expression comes from, but we do know that the phrase was originally a literal term.These days, especially in Britain and Commonwealth countries, we think of a kettle as a small enclosed container with a handle and spout for boiling water to make our tea.The custom was described by Thomas Newte in his : “It is customary for the gentlemen who live near the Tweed to entertain their neighbours and friends with a Fete Champetre, which they call giving ‘a kettle of fish’.Tents or marquees are pitched near the flowery banks of the river ...a fire is kindled, and live salmon thrown into boiling kettles”.