If you’re a fresh water angler, then you know that the largemouth bass is the trophy fish of the sport. But what about eating them? Can you eat largemouth bass and, if so, how do they taste? In this blog post we’ll answer all those questions and more.
Can You Eat Largemouth Bass?
The answer is yes, you can eat largemouth bass. But whether or not they taste good is another question entirely.
The other question is should you eat largemouth bass. 9 times out of 10 a bass angler will tell you to “let’em go and let’em grow” or “there are better tasting fish,” but whatever reason you hear, the average bass angler does not want you to eat a largemouth bass.
Why is Largemouth Bass Fishing so Popular?
The largemouth bass or the Micropterus salmoides is a freshwater fish that’s found in lakes and rivers all across North America. They’re a popular game fish because they put up a good fight when you hook them and they can get pretty large – the world record is 22lb 4oz and has been the standing record for over 80 years.
You don’t need any expensive equipment like fancy rod and reels or pricey lures. It’s a type of fishing that anyone can get into for a relatively inexpensive price tag. On a good day you can take your favorite bass fishing rod and catch a few bass.
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Should You Eat Largemouth Bass
This is a question that will have anglers arguing until the lake runs dry and ultimately it’s up to the angler. Most states have creel limits that tell you how many bass you can keep and what the length or size limits are for keeping a bass. So as long as you’re within those size limits and keeper limits you can keep the fish. But that wont stop folks from arguing if you should or shouldn’t
Why You Shouldn’t Keep Bass
Despite what your local fish and wildlife agency says, people will still try to convince you that you shouldn’t keep largemouth bass. Some arguments are actually pretty valid and hard to argue with.
You’re Taking Someone Else’s Opportunity
This is true, if you catch a fish and take it home, no one else can catch that fish. Normally not a big deal if it’s your run of the mill 8 inch bass, but if you’re taking home a trophy sized fish then the chance for someone else to try and catch it is gone. Ultimately if you keep a fish for food or for a mount or even to put in your private stocked pond, removing it from the public fishing hole is removing the opportunity for someone else to catch that fish.
You’re Removing Good Genetics
The saying is big bass make big bass and when you remove a big healthy bass from your local fishing hole you remove the genetics that could give the next generation of bass the potential to be just as big. Some states have maximum size limits that keep the big fish in the water and there is more and more request to implement this type of size limit across the United States.
Taking Too Much Will Ruin Your Fishing Spot
You’ve probably heard how good your local fishing spot used to be “back in the day.” How the fish were big and you could catch them all the time. A lot of folks will blame people taking fish is the reason why it isn’t as good anymore, but this is one reason we don’t really agree with.
While it is possible that you can take too much fish from a small 1 acre pond, most anglers aren’t as good as they think they are and there are tons of other things that could hurt the population of largemouth bass. Things like the environment, the health of the baitfish in the water, how much fertilizer is used around the grass in the pond and if the pond is populated by other larger predator fish.
For smaller ponds, this is something you want to keep in mind, but for most places its usually a non-issue.
Why You Should Keep Bass
With all the reasons people think you shouldn’t keep largemouth bass, here are a few reasons as to why you should keep a few largemouth bass.
This is related to population management and making sure the bass in a body of water are kept at a level that is healthy for the overall habitat. There are three things that bass need to thrive and that is oxygenated water, cover, and a source of food.
If your local fishing spot is overpopulated by bass then it could start to suffer in the long run. Too many predator fish means less baitfish and less cover. So if you find a majority of the bass you are catching to be small and similar in size no matter when you catch them then your pond could be suffering from overpopulation.
We do recommend you contact an expert before you begin any kind of population management plan so that you don’t hurt the longterm health of your fishing spot, but it’s something to consider.
Grow Bigger Bass
The other population management reason is if you manage the population correctly you can grow bigger bass. Taking out smaller or stunted bass means more forage for the rest of the largemouth bass population which means growing bigger fish.
It’s not uncommon for private pond owners to have some sort of culling system in place to maintain a healthy population of healthy big bass.
Source of Food
Largemouth bass are found almost anywhere in the United States and they are abundant. So while people usually look down on eating largemouth bass they are a good source a protein if you fish to feed yourself or family.
What Does Largemouth Bass Taste Like?
Lots of anglers will say that largemouth bass taste like “mud,” but it’s our experience that largemouth bass is relatively mild and watery. Some people complain of a fishy taste or muddy flavor, but this is usually due to poor handling and cleaning of the fish.
Another thing that affects the taste of largemouth bass is the body of water. Just like any other fish, the water it lives in heavily impacts the taste. If the water is poor in quality it can have an impact on the taste. It’s good to contact your local fish and wildlife department to make sure fish from questionable body of waters are safe to eat.
What Size Largemouth Bass is a Keeper
This answer is really easy to answer, it depends on your state regulations. For example in Texas and North Carolina you can keep 5 a day with a minimum length of 14 inches. In most New Jersey you can keep 5 bass per day with a minimum size of 12 inches.
Our advice is to make sure you are familiar with your local fish and game wildlife regulations to make sure you are keeping legal fish.
Is Largemouth Bass Healthy to Eat?
Largemouth bass are a great source of protein and as long as the water they live in is not polluted or poor quality you will have a healthy meal. Most state fish and wildlife agencies put out health guidelines on which fish should be eaten and which shouldn’t be so always check your local regulations first.
Largemouth Bass Nutritional Information
Largemouth are a great source of protein. A 6 ounce serving of largemouth bass is 194 calories, 15 grams of fat, 0 carbs, and a massive 37 grams of protein. That means you can enjoy these fish without knowing it’s a healthy source of protein.
Largemouth Bass Nutritional Information
How do you prepare bass to eat?
Once you’ve decided you’re going to eat your catch you’re going to want to make sure you handle it and prepare it properly. It’s not complicated, but you will need to prepare a few things.
First thing you’re going to want to do is make sure you have a cooler with ice in it. That way once you have killed your catch you can immediately put it on ice and it will stay fresh longer. Before your largie goes in the cooler you’re going to want to dispatch and bleed your fish. You don’t need to bleed your fish, but we have found that it’s better tasting when you bleed any fish you intend to eat.
You can use a bonk stick by striking the fish in the brain or use a knife to go directly to the brain and that will kill your largemouth bass. Next you’re going to want to use a knife or sharp sheers to cut the gills so that the fish can begin to bleed out. Make sure to put the fish in water while this is happening so the blood can flow out of the fish. After a minute or so, its good to put on ice so you can take it to where you are going to fillet your fish.
How to Fillet a Largemouth Bass
Filleting a bass is pretty straight forward and similar to how you fillet other fish.
- Cut behind the gill plate and stop short of cutting into the guts.
- Cut down to the spine and follow down the spine cutting towards the tail
- Cut down the belly of the fish along the rib cage to leave the ribs on the fish and separate the fillet
- With your blade angled down, pinch the end of the skin and run the blade between the fillet and the skin
- Feel for the pin bones and cut down the dorsal side of the filet to remove the pin bones.
Fried Largemouth Bass Fish & Chips Recipe
- 1 lbs. of Largemouth Bass Filets
- Frying Oil
- 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 7 tablespoons cornstarch
- Sea Salt
- Black Pepper
- Cayenne (if you want it a little spicy)
- 1/3 cup of your favorite cold beer
- 1/3 cup of sparkling water or 7up
- Pour 2 inches of oil into a cast iron pan and bring to temp over medium high heat.
- Set aside 2 tablespoons of flour in one bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the dry ingredients but leave some spices set aside to season the fish. The spice mixture really depends on you.
- Use a fork to mix in your beer and sparking water into your flour mix and continue mixing until you have a thick, smooth batter. Place the batter in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Season the fish with with the spice mixture. This is important. Always season your fish and your batter.
- Put your fish in the 2 tablespoons of flour and fully coat your fillets. Shake off any excess flour
- Dip your entire fillet into the batter and coat your fish completely. A dry fillet is a sad fillet in this recipe.
- Bring your oil to 350 F and 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, about 8 minutes per side. 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.
Serve this with your favorite side like french fries or chips. Hit the fish with some lemon and put some tartar sauce or cocktail sauce on the side. This recipe works for nuggets or whole filets. If you decide to do nuggets I’d cut them 2-3 inch pieces.
So there you have it! Largemouth bass are not only good for catching, but they’re also good for eating. If you’ve never tried them before, we highly recommend giving them a shot – you might just be surprised at how delicious they are. Just make sure to clean and cook them properly and you’ll be in for a treat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Largemouth Bass high in mercury?
Largemouth bass are not considered to be high in mercury. However, as with any fish, there is always the potential for trace amounts of mercury to be present. If you’re concerned about mercury levels, it’s always a good idea to check with your local fisheries department or wildlife agency for more information.
Do bass have worms?
All fish have parasites, and bass are no exception. However, these parasites are usually not harmful to humans if the fish is cooked properly. If you’re concerned about parasites, it’s always a good idea to check with your local fisheries department or wildlife agency for more information.
What temperature kills parasites in fish?
Parasites in fish are normally killed by cooking fish to at least 145°F and keeping it at that temp for at least 15 seconds. If any fish is to be consumed raw the FDA’s Food Code recommends freezing fish at -4°F or below for 7 days or -31°F or below for 15 hours to kill any parasites a fish may have.
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