So you’ve found yourself a nice school of bluegill. Now you’re wondering are bluegill good to eat? In this article we will breakdown everything you need to know about eating bluegill.
Are Bluegill Good to Eat
Yes, bluegill are good to eat. they are delicious little fish that can be caught quickly and easily with an ultralight rod and reel, small ultralight jigs and lures or live bait. They are also found in almost every body of water in the United States and a resilient species. A pond can easily be populated with a healthy school of bluegill within a couple of years and be self sustaining with minimal effort.
Can you Eat Bluegill
You can eat bluegill if you can catch them! The beauty of eating bluegill is that they are relatively easy to catch. Most people use some kind of live bait like night crawlers or wax worms on a hook underneath a float or a bobber. This is a great way to start and will normally catch you a lot of fish, but you can also catch them with lures!
Our favorite is the Donkey Tail Jr. from Mule Fishing. These soft plastics are durable and have great lifelike action.
Are Bluegill Poisonous?
No, bluegill themselves are not poisonous and generally safe to eat. There are exceptions to this rule but it has more to do with the water quality that the fish is swimming in and not the species itself. If the water you are fishing from is not the cleanest or highly polluted I would avoid eating fish from there. It’s normally a good idea to check with your local Fish and Wildlife department to see if they have any information on your local body of water.
Can You Eat Bluegill Skin?
You sure can. Eating the skin can add a ton of flavor and texture to your meal. We do recommend you scale the fish first, eating those can be a little unpleasant. Here is a great video on how you can quickly and easily remove the scales on a bluegill.
Can You Eat Bluegill Eggs?
Bluegill roe or bluegill eggs can be eaten if you catch a female bluegill with eggs. There are several ways to do it, but most people fry them. To eat the roe all you need to do is remove the egg sack when you are cleaning your bluegill. Make sure you are careful not to puncture the egg sack until you have fully cleaned your fish or you can contaminate your eggs.
Season them and batter them with flour and give them a quick run in the grease to fry them up and you’ll have yourself a nice little snack.
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What Size Bluegill is a Keeper
So you have a bluegill and you’re wondering how big do bluegill have to be to keep. Most states actually don’t have minimum requirements to keep most panfish or bluegill species, but you always want make sure to check your states regulations in case there are special panfish species that do have a length requirement.
If you’re in a state that doesn’t have a length requirement, 6-8 inches is a good size for keeping bluegill. You can keep smaller ones, but usually the medium-larger bluegill are worth the hassle of cleaning them because they have more meat.
It’s also really good for the fish population. Smaller bluegills will grow faster with less competition. Anything larger than 8 inches you’ll want to throw back so those big healthy gills can keep making babies that will grow up to be more big healthy gills.
Does Bluegill Taste Good
Bluegill are delicious. One of the better tasting freshwater fish. Not only are they fun to catch, but they are great to eat. The only reason we believe they are not everyone’s favorite eater fish is their size.
They are less “fishy” than catfish and largemouth bass and can even be mild in flavor depending on the body of water. They can easily be seasoned and most people deep fry their catch.
Bluegill Nutritional Information
Bluegill are a great source of protein. A 3 ounce serving of bluegill is 82 calories, 1.7 grams of fat, 0 carbs, and a whopping 16 grams of protein. So by all means deep fry those suckers without worrying about it.
Bluegill Nutritional Information
Can you eat a bluegill whole
It’s not uncommon to eat a bluegill without filleting it. You don’t even need to remove the head. Our favorite way to prepare a whole bluegill is to shallow fry it.
After scaling and leaning your fish you cut lines diagonally down the fillets so that you can see a bit of the meat under the skin. Season both sides of the fish and coat in a little bit of flour and fry it. The cuts help the seasoning penetrate the meat and help cook the fish faster.
2-3 minutes per side and then hit it with some salt one more time and you’ve got yourself a good fish to eat. The only downside is you do have to deal with the bones, but once the fish is cooked all the way through the meat flakes right off the bones and they are easy to spot on the larger bluegills.
If eating bluegill whole isn’t your thing, you can also fillet them!
How to Filet a Bluegill
Filleting a bluegill is pretty straight forward and if you have a group of people you can process a big batch of bluegill really quickly!
First, lay the fish on it’s side and lift the pectoral fin to make your first cut behind the gill flap. Cut straight down through the scales until you make contact with the spine of the fish. Next, rotate your knife toward the tail of the fish making sure you keep in contact with the spine stopping right before you hit the base of the tail. Flip your fillet over and hold onto the fish and work your knife down the fillet removing the skin. Once your fillet is free you cut right under the rib bones and remove the ribs from the fillet.
Here is a quick video that demonstrates the method above.
Fried Bluegill Recipe
Our favorite way to eat Bluegill is frying them into nuggets or whole filets. You only need a few ingredients and it taste great.
- 1 lbs. of Bluegill Fillets or nuggets
- Frying Oil
- Fine Cornmeal
- Cayenne (if you want it a little spicy)
- Hot Sauce (Optional to use as a binder if you want a little bit more spicy flavor)
- Pour 2 inches of oil into a cast iron pan and bring to temp over medium high heat.
- Mix the cornmeal, salt, pepper, paprika, and optional cayenne into a bowl, but leave some spices set aside to season the fish. The spice mixture really depends on you. I like to add just a little bit of Cayenne pepper and a lot of Paprika.
- Season your bluegill with with the spice mixture. This is important. Always season your meat and your batter.
- Coat your fish in the cornmeal and spice mixture. Using Fine cornmeal is important here. Nothing worse than having big grains of cornmeal in between your teeth.
- Place your fish into the oil. Use a small piece first as a tester. You want it to immediately bubble, but not burn. Flip your fish when it looks like it’s almost golden brown. Take the fish out when the other side is almost golden brown too. If you wait until it is golden brown it will continue to cook after you take it out and look burned. Trust me on this.
- Place your fish on a wire rack over with paper towels underneath to drain and hit them with more salt while they are hot.
Other Favorite Bluegill Recipes
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Bluegill Safe To Eat?
Yes Bluegill are safe to eat. This does depend on the body of water the fish is coming from, but it is usually okay to eat them as long as the body of water they come from is not heavily polluted. It’s best to contact your local Fish and Wildlife department if you have any questions regarding the safety of eating a certain species.
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