Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post covering an often asked question when it comes to Bass fishing… can you eat Largemouth Bass? Now, the short answer is absolutely, if fact, it is actually a nice tasting table fish – at least the one time I tried it it was…
It is however not as common to keep them for the table as many of the saltwater species we see in most restaurants so let’s check out the ins and outs of the consumption of this species below…
What are Largemouth Bass?
So, before we start, let’s just quickly recap what we are talking about here. Largemouth Bass are an aggressive, carnivorous freshwater gamefish native to eastern and central United States, south-eastern Canada and northern Mexico. They are an extremely popular sport fish due to their penchant for striking at bait and lures alike and will put up a great fight when caught – often jumping out of the water as they are reeled in.
Due to this, they are often considered more of a trophy catch – there are world records and all – with many preferring the catch and release aspect if it all rather than for food. At the very least, many fishers will keep one only for the dinner table and release the rest for next time.
Note: Most states and jurisdictions implement ‘slot limits’ on Largemouth Bass catches which determines the minimum and maximum sizes that can be kept as well as bag limits (e.g. 5 per person) on the number that can be harvested on each trip.
Are they any good?
Look, as above, I have only consumed Largemouth Bass once and that was prepared by a qualified chef. They have a white, meaty flesh meaning they take on many of the characteristics of others of their type such as:
- They will take on the flavour of their surroundings – so avoid eating if they are caught in murky, stagnant or dirty water.
- The older varieties tend to taste a lot stronger or ‘fishier’ so if you are planning to keep one for dinner, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the biggest one you catch.
- Larger varieties are also more susceptible to worms, parasites and increased absorbsion of waterway contaminants.
In most cases, as long as the water is clean and you are within your slot limit, then you are generally ok.
As with most white meated fish, Largemouth Bass do not need to be bled upon capture However if you plan to consume it, then it is always a good idea to place them on ice as soon as possible after it is landed. Many use an ice slurry in a cooler which is generally a ratio of 2 parts ice to 1 part water for this purpose.
Due to their eating habits, freshwater fish must be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed prior to consumption. From here, preparation will be determined by your planned consumption. If they are to be eaten whole then you will need to clean and scale them beforehand. If you plan to pan fry, then you can either scale and fillet or fillet and skin. Keep the meat refrigerated or on ice at all times before and after preparation.
Can you freeze uncooked fillets?
Yes – Raw Largemouth Bass can be frozen for up to 5 months. It must at the very least be gutted and cleaned and placed in an airtight bag (ziplock bags are good here) prior to being placed in the freezer.
Can they be eaten raw?
No – This is not a good species for the sushi or sashimi wheel.
How to cook Largemouth Bass
At the end of the day, due to its white flesh, Largemouth Bass can be prepared in the same manner as most other fresh or saltwater species in that they can be:
Bass fillets can be cooked over charcoal or gas grills with any and all spices and seasonings as you see fit. Below is a common recipe:
- Heat a grill hot but not smoking.
- Pat bass fillets dry then spread butter or oil over the non-skinned side (or both if fillet is skinned) along with salt and pepper.
- Grill fillets until just cooked (fillets start to flake) – Do not overcook as the meat will go dry.
- Consume with salad or grilled vegetables.
You can of course use any other herbs or spices on the flesh to taste.
As above, but in a pan – I like to add garlic to the butter when I pan fry white fish fillets with the salt and pepper as well. I have seen many Largemouth Bass recipes with Asian spices used too so that is also worth a try. Of course, they can also be crumbed as well which entails:
- Gather three bowls and in the first, place some flour, eggs (beaten) in the second and breadcrumbs in the third.
- Pat dry each fillet (skin on or off to preference) and then cover in flour.
- Sink the flour covered fillets into the egg mixture and then cover in breadcrumbs
- Shallow fry in the oil of your choice in a pan large enough to hold the full size of the fillet.
- Spritz with lemon juice and consume with fries (chips), salad or whatever else takes your fancy.
Note: For extra flavour, add salt and pepper to the flour or even some grated Parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs. I have even seen some good recipes using BBQ rubs on the fillets as well.
For this last option, the fish is cooked whole in the oven. A cooking example is as below:
- Make sure the fish is cleaned and scaled.
- Score the skin with a sharp knife (This will stop it shrinking too much from the heat)
- Cover the outside with a lubricant such as butter or oil
- Fill the cavity with whatever takes your fancy (common options are garlic, herbs, spices, lemon, tomatoes or mustard)
- Bake in the oven until just cooked – again, it will dry out if left too long
Note: Based on my research over a number of recipes, a 1.5lb Bass will take around 15 – 30 minutes in a 375 deg oven.
And there you go – my response to the question of whether you can eat Largemouth Bass. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences – or recipes – would love to see your recipes below too.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time