Can You Eat Bass Fish? [Largemouth, Smallmouth, Peacock, Striped Bass]

Bass is one of the most popular game fish among recreational and expert anglers. But is it edible? Can you eat a bass?

You can eat bass. It is edible. However, many anglers catch and release bass in the water instead of cooking and eating. While it is edible, it is not as tasty as other species. Bass can have a strong fishy or muddy flavor, which makes it bitter. 

Read on to learn more about eating bass, including some easy and delicious bass recipes you should try. 

Can You Eat Bass Fish? 

can you eat bass

You can eat bass, but most people prefer not to. As a sport fish, catch-and-release is more common amongst anglers instead of consuming it.

Some people do not like eating bass because of the pollution in rivers, lakes, and other water bodies where the fish is from. It can absorb contaminants that are toxic to humans. 

Also, bass isn’t commonly eaten because many fishing spots require releasing it in the water instead of bringing it home and cooking. 

Bass is an abundant source of vitamins and proteins while also being low in calories. However, it also contains mercury, so watch out for your portions. For your safety, it’s not recommended to eat more than six portions of bass monthly. 

Can You Eat Largemouth Bass? 

You can eat Largemouth bass. It is safe for human consumption, although it is not as commonly eaten as other fish. It has white and firm meat with a slightly fishy taste, so many people do not like eating it.

Can You Eat Peacock Bass? 

You can eat Peacock bass. While it is beautiful from the outside, it has white and clean meat without excessive bones, making it easy to eat. It is sweet and has minimal oil, with a flavor profile similar to a grouper and snapper.

Does Bass Contain Mercury?

While it contains beneficial vitamins and minerals, eating bass is also a health threat because it contains mercury. Black and striped bass have lesser mercury content compared to Chilean sea bass. Children and pregnant women must be cautious in its consumption. 

Can You Eat Bass Raw? 

Technically, you can eat it raw, but we do not recommend doing so. The natural flavor does not attract many people to this fish. It is best to cook it well and add different ingredients or flavorings to improve its taste. 

Can Pregnant Women Eat Bass? 

While the bass is safe for human consumption, pregnant women must avoid it. The fish may contain high levels of mercury, especially striped and black bass. It can result in poisoning or infection, especially if the fish is from waters with high contaminants or pollution. 

What Does Bass Taste Like?

Largemouth bass has a strong fishy taste, which most people find overwhelming. The white and firm meat has a robust flavor that you won’t commonly find in other fish. 

Meanwhile, a smallmouth bass has a preferable taste. It is sweeter, making it more popular for culinary applications compared to largemouth bass. 

There’s no easy way to describe the flavor profile of bass. It depends on several things, including the type of bass and the way you cook it. 

If you are looking for a delicious bass, striped bass is a good choice. It has moderate fat and a rich flavor. With its well-balanced and natural sweetness, you can cook it in many ways and expect it to taste good. 

The specific taste of bass will also depend on its habitat. It depends on where you catch it. For instance, if it is from muddy waters, it has a more robust flavor, which can sometimes lean towards being bitter. If it is from freshwater, meanwhile, it often has a less distinct flavor. 

Is Bass Healthy? 

Bass fish is a good source of protein. A three-ounce portion of sea bass contains as much as 16 grams of protein. On the other hand, freshwater bass has 20 grams. This contributes to the daily requirement of 46 grams of protein for women and 56 grams for men. 

Aside from protein, the bass is also a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids. It helps in reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol, which are effective in improving cardiovascular health. On average, sea bass has 0.65 grams of omega-3, and freshwater bass contains 0.51 grams. 

More so, it also contains selenium. The latter is an antioxidant that the body synthesizes. It has a crucial role in boosting your immune system. 

Another thing that makes bass a healthy fish is that it has low calories. A three-ounce serving only has 125 calories. 

While it is healthy, the nutritional value depends on many things, such as cooking, other ingredients, and the portions you are eating. Grilling and lightly roasting are some of the healthiest ways to prepare this fish. It is also best to eat it with veggies. 

How to Clean and Fillet Bass Fish

can you eat largemouth bass

Now that you know that you can eat bass, even if it isn’t the most delicious fish that can end up on your plate, you must learn how to clean it. It is best to cook it fresh, so clean it as soon as possible before it gets in the pan or oven. 

  1. Start by scaling the fish. Put it on the top of a flat surface with a trash bag so that you won’t create a mess. Hold the tail and scrape from top to bottom. Repeat the scaling on the other side. 
  2. By this time, the fish is smooth and without scales. The next thing to do is to gut the fish. This will get rid of the organs, making the fish taste cleaner without being bitter. Cut at the bottom of the tail fin and slice its belly. Once it is open, reach for the cavity and pull the organs until the inside is clean. Wash, scrape any remaining debris, and wash again. 
  3. To fillet the fish after cleaning, make an initial incision behind the fins and gills. Slice until reaching the middle bones. Be gentle so that you won’t cut the bone. 
  4. After hitting the backbone, flip the knife, making it flush towards the spine. Hold the knife with a slightly downward angle and cut it to the belly. Cut until the tail and remove the fillet. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Clean the fillet and cook as you want. You can remove the skin of the bass if you wish. If you want to take the skin off, insert the knife between the skin and the meat. Cut and pull the skin while the knife is sliding.

How to Cook Tasty Bass 

If you want to eat bass, you must know how to cook it properly. You don’t have to be a master chef to prepare a delicious feast. With a few ingredients and a bit of time and patience to spare, it is easy to cook bass like a pro. 

Pan-fried Herbed and Buttered Largemouth Bass Recipe

The largemouth bass isn’t the most popular type of this fish to cook and eat. The overpowering fishy flavors may not sit well on some people. Find the best way to cook bass fish to balance the taste and give it a unique spin. 

  1. Start by filleting the fish. After catching the fish, bury it in a cooler with ice. This will keep the meat firm until you are ready to cook. Otherwise, it turns mushy, giving it a bad texture after frying. 
  2. Cover the largemouth bass fillets in flour and shake. 
  3. Heat the pan and drizzle in two tablespoons of olive oil. Once it is hot, add the fillets and fry until they turn golden brown. It takes roughly three minutes to cook the fillets on each side. Remove from the pan. 
  4. Melt butter in the hot pan and add garlic. Once the garlic turns golden brown, add your choice of herbs. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper. 
  5. Arrange the largemouth bass fillets on a plate. Pour the butter mixture on the top of the fish. This will balance the fishiness of bass and give it a more refreshing flavor. 

Roast Smallmouth Bass with Summer Veggies Recipe 

If you want something sweeter and flavorful without being overpowering, the smallmouth bass is a good option. Cook the bass fish as soon as it is caught to enjoy fresh flavors on your plate. The addition of vegetables will augment the fish’s taste and give a nice crunch and make the dish healthier.

  1. Start by preheating the oven at 500°F. 
  2. Clean the bass and remove its scales. Cut both sides of the fish in slits of three to four. Put on the top of a baking sheet and parchment paper. 
  3. In a bowl, add olive oil, salt, and white wine vinegar. Whisk the ingredients until they blend. Coat the smallmouth bass with the mixture. 
  4. Cut zucchini, tomatoes, yellow onion, garlic, and basil. Add salt and black pepper for additional flavors. 
  5. Arrange the vegetables and fish in a baking pan. 
  6. Cook the fish and the veggies in the oven. Wait until the fish reaches 135°F, which takes approximately 15 to 25 minutes. The cooking time can be shorter or longer, depending on the size of the fish. 
  7. Let it cool for a few minutes and enjoy while the dish is hot.

Watch the short video below to learn more about catching and cooking bass:

5 Essential Tips on How to Catch Bass

can you eat bass fish

Bass is not one of those fish that you will find in restaurant menus. They aren’t sold in supermarkets either. So, if you are curious about the taste of bass and you fancy eating one, you should catch it from a place where you are allowed to take it out of the water. 

While the bass is an aggressive fish, it is easy to catch, even if you are a new angler.

Below are some tips that will help you catch bass like an experienced angler:

  1. Find cover in the water. Bass likes to hide, so you must know where to find them. Look for a spot with rocks, lily pads, grass, and other covers where bass hides.
  2. Understand weather conditions and how it impacts the presence of bass in the water. They are more active when it is cloudy. When it is sunny, look for tight covers. 
  3. Match your bait to the temperature of the water. In cooler temperatures, it is best to use slow-moving baits. Pair it with the right technique, and there is a higher likelihood that you will take home a fresh catch. 
  4. Learn the fundamentals of tying a fishing knot. As aggressive movers, make sure that the knot is secure to prevent breakage after hooking bass. 
  5. Patience is a virtue. Bass won’t quickly bite your bait, but this isn’t a reason for you to give up quickly. 

Conclusion – Can You Eat Bass? 

One of the most popular sport fish, most anglers do not eat bass. It is more popular for catch and releases instead of its culinary applications. Nonetheless, you can eat bass, and it is safe to do so in moderation. It has mercury, so you must watch out for your consumption, especially if you are pregnant. 

The flavor of bass is a hit and miss for most people. Choose the right kind, and your taste buds are in for a treat. Largemouth bass has an overpowering fishy taste. Meanwhile, if you want something sweet and mild, it is best to eat smallmouth and striped bass. 

If the natural flavor does not excite your taste buds, the best thing to do is experiment with the way you cook the fish. From the seasonings to the veggies, you can add different things to enhance its flavor. Make sure to clean and gut the bass fish before cooking properly.