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Separating Fact from Fiction: Eating Freshwater Bass

Bass fishing is one of the most popular activities among avid anglers. Although lots of people fish for bass, they usually wonder if it’s safe to eat. So, can you eat freshwater bass?

The answer might surprise you. Freshwater bass is one of the top predators in the natural ecosystem, and mastering bass fishing is one of the goals that every fishing enthusiast wants to achieve. Keep on reading to learn more about freshwater bass.

Can You Eat Freshwater Bass?

caught largemouth bass

Absolutely. Freshwater bass is safe to eat. However, most people catch bass for sport and release it. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a nice fish dish, you shouldn’t discard freshwater bass.

The reason why most people don’t eat freshwater bass is that it isn’t socially normalized. Freshwater bass are one of the top freshwater sports fish, and most fishermen believe they should be catch and release only.

Some anglers practice catch and release, but you can always keep one meal from every fishing trip. Not only will this affect your sense of achievement, but it’s also an excellent chance for your family and loved ones to enjoy a fresh meal that doesn’t taste like anything you’ve bought from a store.

Is Bass Healthy to Eat?

Like many other fish with white meat, bass is generally a healthy fish to eat. Bass meat is high in protein and low in fat, which makes it healthy to eat. Just make sure you prepare it correctly and do not eat it raw.

Author Note: Not only can you eat freshwater bass, but you can also make a great meal if you know what you’re doing. If you’re looking for some good recipes, scroll down further in the article for our favorites.

What are the Best Tips to Catch the Freshwater Bass?

Catching freshwater bass is a rewarding experience for every angler. Here are some secrets that can help you catch more bass on your upcoming fishing trip.

  • Bass are natural predators, so they will be tempted to swim around cover on the body of water. This could be some leaves, rocks, lily pads, or a boat deck. This is where you should try to put your lure to catch more bass. We recommend using weedless bass lures to prevent snags. The Texas Rig is one of our favorites.
  • Make sure that the lure imitates what the bass is likely to feed on in that area. Bass can feed on several types of fish as well as other aquatic animals. The lure should resemble their favorite food to make sure that they will be tempted to come closer.
  • Bass will be tempted to feed on wounded prey that doesn’t fight much. If you accidentally shred your plastic worms, keep them for bass fishing.
  • Sharpen your hooks before every fishing trip. Bass have strong jaws, and you need to make sure that the hook is sharp enough to penetrate the mouth of the fish.
  • Bass like to swim in the current. This means that you have a better chance of catching freshwater bass when you’re facing the wind.
  • Use the proper equipment. If you need a proper reel, check out our best bass fishing reels buying guide. 

Preparing Freshwater Bass

Smallmouth Bass underwater

Once you’ve caught freshwater bass, it’s time to prepare it for cooking. Bass has a special texture and needs to be cleaned thoroughly before cooking. Bass can be deboned to create boneless fillets.

You can also cook the fish as a whole after you’ve cleaned it properly. You can follow a more in-depth guide we wrote up for cobia, or follow the steps below. 


  1. Use the back of the knife to remove the scales of the fish. You can also use a sturdy fish scaler that doesn’t cause any mess. Start from the bottom up and do both sides until the skin feels smooth.
  2. Rinse the fish using cold water.
  3. Use a sharp knife to make an incision right under the head and stop when you hit the spine.
  4. Start from this incision and cut through the belly along the fish’s side until you reach the anal vent. Use the spine as your guide as you reach the tail.
  5. When you hit the tail, push the knife to the other side and continue cutting through.
  6. Insert your thumb where you made a cut and use the knife’s tip to cut all the way through the other side.
  7. Remove all the internal parts from the belly meat to make sure that the fish is clean.
  8. To make fillets, use a knife to cut all the way through to the other side while applying gentle pressure.
  9. Separate the meat from the bones by lifting up the meat and using the knife’s tip to cut through the ribs cage.
  10. Flip the fish to the other side and repeat the same process.
  11. Cut any fats on the sides.
  12. Use the knife to clean the fillet of any residue.
  13. Put the fillet on a cutting board with the skin down.
  14. Make an incision using a fillet knife and start shaving the meat to remove it from the skin.
  15. You need to remove the blood before cooking the fish. Get a bowl of cold water and soak the fish. Change the water when it changes color until there’s no more blood.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Freshwater Bass?

Yes, they can, as long as it’s caught from a clean river or lake. Mercury poisoning is a great concern and should be avoided. You need to make sure that you are not catching fish from a polluted water body. Mercury poisoning is not as big a risk in freshwater as it is in saltwater.

Author Note: Saltwater fish tend to live longer and spend more time eating smaller fish that have mercury in them.

What is the Best Way to Cook Freshwater Bass?

Three sea bass fillet

Freshwater bass has a strong fishy flavor that might not suit everyone. Nevertheless, a lot of people love this fantastic fish because it has a tender meaty texture.

The taste of freshwater bass changes according to its habitat and diet. This means that every time you catch a freshwater bass, you might taste something that it’s slightly different.

As long as you’re catching your freshwater bass from an unpolluted river or lake, it will be extremely safe to use. If you want to know if the bass will taste good, pay attention to water clarity and available food for the bass to eat.

If there are plentiful food and the water is clear, you’ll most likely be able to catch bass that tastes good. However, if there is algae in the water and not a lot of other life, you might want to avoid eating bass from that area.

There are several delicious ways to cook freshwater bass. You can start experimenting with them to enjoy a different taste every time. The best tip is not to overcook the freshwater bass to prevent it from becoming too chewy.

Grilling Freshwater Bass

This is the best recipe to consider if you’re cooking your fresh catch in an outdoor setting. You need a grill to cook this amazing fish and enjoy the wonderful taste. We like using a similar spice mix to what we use for redfish or Spanish mackerel.

  1. Use salt, pepper, and lemon to season your freshwater bass.
  2. Turn the grill to medium-high heat, or make your own campfire to grill your bass.
  3. Keep the fish on the grill for 5 minutes per 1 minute of thickness.
  4. Turn the fish to the other side.

Baking Freshwater Bass

If you’re at home, you can use a whole fish or a fish fillet to prepare baked fish.

  1. Prepare a mixture of tomatoes, lemon, onions, and parsley.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Use this mixture to season the outside and inside of the fish.
  4. Oil a baking tray or use a non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Put the fish in the tray and add some wine in the tray for an extra kick.
  6. Cook the fish for 20 or 30 minutes and serve with lemon slices on top.

Frying Freshwater Bass

This recipe is suitable for fish fillets and can be served with honey mustard or tartar dressing.

  1. Preheat one inch of vegetable oil in a frying pan.
  2. Coat every piece of fillet with a mixture of milk and beaten eggs.
  3. Cover the fillets with seasoned breadcrumbs, panko crumbs, or flour. Use salt, black pepper, paprika, thyme, and lemon pepper for seasoning.
  4. Fry the fish for 5 minutes on each side using low heat. Use tongs to flip the fish without cutting the fillets.

Can You Eat Largemouth Bass Raw?

Largemouth perch fish jumping

After reading the above recipes, you may be wondering if you can eat largemouth bass raw. We don’t recommend it, but in general freshwater bass are fine to eat raw if they have been handled properly.

Author Note: The bigger issue is that freshwater bass doesn’t taste particularly good raw compared to fattier saltwater fish. The meat has a stronger flavor and is softer than the more desirable fish species used in sushi.

Which Tastes Better, Largemouth, or Smallmouth Bass?

Both largemouth and smallmouth bass taste fairly similar. Largemouth bass tend to grow larger, which means more meat for you to enjoy after cooking them. Smallmouth bass, however, have very similar meat and will taste just as good.

You might have to work a little bit harder to prepare enough meat to make a meal.

Some fishermen report that they like eating smallmouth bass more than largemouth. Largemouth bass tends to have softer meat that some people don’t like as much. But it’s subjective, so that’s up to you to decide!

Wrap Up

Freshwater bass is safe to eat, but some people might not be fond of its strong taste. You can experiment with several cooking methods to find the most suitable one.

The next time you catch some freshwater bass, you should definitely try one of these delicious recipes. 

We hope you’ve found this article useful! If you have a freshwater bass recipe of your own that tastes delicious, let us know about it in the comments below.

Happy Hunting!


1 thought on “Separating Fact from Fiction: Eating Freshwater Bass”

  1. Have never tried freshwater Bass – Will have to sneak one into the esky for a try next time.. Thanks for the post.

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