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What Does Bass Taste Like? Is It Safe To Eat? (Recipes Included)

Whether you’re planning to catch bass and cook on a fishing trip or just cook and eat, you’re perhaps asking yourself how does bass fish taste? And is largemouth bass good to eat?

With the various species of fish falling under the category of bass, the answer may not be as simple as you’d like, and even anglers may not be able to tell most people. 

There is no one answer!

Like many fish species, sometimes it’s the way it’s cooked that can have the biggest impact on flavor. So with that in mind, we’ve put together a short guide to help you out with taste and texture, as well as help you cook it.

Is Bass Good To Eat?

Yes, you can eat bass (you probably already knew that).

Whether it’s freshwater bass or saltwater bass, as long as it’s well cooked it can be a safe fish to eat - which can be great news if you love fishing. It can be rich in protein and vitamins, as well as being relatively low in calories.

However, as with some other types of fish species, bass can contain mercury, which can be poisonous if consumed in large amounts. For this reason, you shouldn’t eat more than six portions of bass per month to avoid mercury poisoning.

Striped bass, in particular, should be avoided by pregnant women or if you’re nursing - this may also be a good recommendation in the case of largemouth or black bass. Children should also avoid eating bass. For other people, it’s recommended that you don’t eat any more than four portions per year, but if you're in doubt, you should probably avoid bass at the dinner table, even if it might taste good.

There may also be a risk of listeria from eating largemouth bass or other fish that may be contaminated. Not all bass is suitable for human consumption. You might also find that some bass from certain bodies of freshwater (such as stagnant waters) are not safe to eat so it can be worth checking in advance if you plan to catch bass to eat, especially if you plan to fish bass waters that you don't know. 

Is Bass Healthy To Eat?

The short answer is, yes. 

Like most fresh fish, it can be healthy if it's from clean water and handled properly. Freshwater bass can contain around 20 grams of protein and roughly 120 calories in a three ounce piece.

It's high in Omega 3 fatty acids, low in saturated fats, low in calories and high in protein. 

What Does Bass Actually Taste Like?

Sea Bass

This is a saltwater fish and the bass meat has a mild taste, which can make it a good choice for using in many recipes, creating a great meal. It has a white meat with a firm but tender texture and can be ideal for cooking whole or in soups because it shouldn’t break apart as easily as fish species with flaky textures.

Largemouth Bass

How does a largemouth bass taste? Also known as black bass, largemouth bass has a white fish fillet with a firm, tender texture but it can have a fishy flavor that some people might not like. It may have a more meaty texture than flaky but it can also have very few bones within the meat if you decide to eat largemouth bass.

Video: Catch And Cook Largemouth Bass

It can be fried or grilled and you could add it to other recipes with some other spices for another way to cook. Smaller specimens can be easier to clean and cook than large specimens. 

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass may have a more preferable flavor to largemouth bass as it can be tastier. But this can be down to personal preference and how the fish has been cooked. You might also find they have a sweeter taste than a largemouth bass.

Spotted Bass

Similar to smallmouth, the meat has a firm texture. It has a white meat that can be mild in flavor without the overly fishy taste that might put some people off. Its mild flavor could make it a good choice for a variety of recipes, as well as being ideal for being simply fried or grilled.

Is It Better To Release Bass, Or To Eat Them?

This probably depends on the body of water where you caught them. If the water is polluted or dirty, it's best not to eat largemouth bass. Catching and releasing bass can help to maintain the population so other anglers can fish for them. 

However, in some areas, keeping them may actually improve populations compared to the catch and release philosophy. It can also be dangerous to the fish if you catch and release largemouth bass that's been injured during the fishing process, such as from a hook. Some in some cases, it can be preferable to bring bass home to cook, and many anglers do.

What Size Bass Should You Eat?

The larger the bass, the more toxins it may have absorbed, so the ideal size to eat would generally be medium fish of around 10 to 14 inches long or around one or two pounds.

It can be tricky to cook freshwater bass if it's very large. Like with most smaller fish, small bass can be easier to cook than larger specimens but make sure it's within the local catch threshold.

Where Can I Find Bass?

Bass can be found in many countries around the world and is often considered one of the most popular, if not the most popular, freshwater game fish. They can be found in both clear waters and brackish waters (not always clean waters).

There are actually many different species that fall into the bass category, which can include both freshwater and saltwater species. They can generally be caught easily by most fishermen and women using various lures, including artificial bait and live bait (as well as a bit of skill and good luck).

North America

There are several species of native bass and many of them can be found all across the USA, as well as in Canada, Mexico and further south into Central America.

Many streams, rivers, lakes and ponds can be home to species of freshwater bass, which is what possibly makes them a popular catch for anglers, and even for fly fishing. Saltwater bass tend to be found in the coastal waters of the United States from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic as far north as Maine. They tend to be found near underwater structures.

UK

In the UK, bass fishing is restricted due to a decline in the numbers of sea-bass available. From throughout 2018 there have been strict regulations in force, limiting your catch to just one bass per day.

In the UK, European bass are mostly found around the southern coasts of England and Ireland. However, this species is more commonly found in the warmer waters of the Mediterranean.

Australasia

Australia has its own species of bass, the Australian bass, which can be found in rivers and lakes along the east coast from Queensland to Victoria. While they’re a freshwater fish, they can be found in coastal estuaries during the winter breeding season.

Other species of bass can be found in the deeper waters off the coast of New Zealand.

Bass Fish Recipe (for a better taste!)

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds bass
  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Lemon pepper (to taste)
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • Serves 6
  • Preparation: 20 minutes
  • Cooking: 20 minutes

1. Preheat your grill to high.
2. Mix the paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt and lemon-pepper in a small bowl.
3. Coat the fish with the mixed seasonings.
4. Melt the butter with the garlic cloves and parsley in a small pan over a medium heat.
5. When the butter has melted, remove pan from the heat and set to one side.
6. Lightly brush oil onto your grill and place your fish on top.
7. Grill the fish for around 7 minutes before turning.
8. Once turned, drizzle your melted butter over the fish and grill for another 7 minutes or until cooked.
9. Before serving, lightly drizzle olive oil over the fish.

Conclusion

With bass being found in many places all over the world and even on many restaurant menus, knowing how it tastes can be useful. Hopefully you now have a better idea of what bass is and how it might taste.

Make sure you keep in mind the mercury levels if you’re planning to feed women or children and remember to watch out for any contamination that may be present if you’re fishing in freshwater.

Let us know if you have a favorite bass recipe and feel free to share this with your friends if you think they could use a little help.

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