So you’re catching some White Bass now and you’re looking at your state’s creel limit thinking, are White Bass good to eat or are they too fishy? The short answer is yes, and in this post we’ll explain why.
Are White Bass Safe to Eat
The first thing you might ask yourself, is it safe to eat White Bass? The short answer is, yes. Just like with any fish you are going to take home to eat, it really depends on the water quality. Not only does water quality have an impact if the fish is safe to eat, but it also effects the flavor of the fish. Your local fish and wildlife department will most likely have recommendations on which fish from certain bodies of water should not be eaten. They will also probably have recommendations or guidelines on how often you should be eating certain species of fish.
Usually when it comes to White Bass, you can tell if a fish is healthy by looking at the color and and seeing if there is any discoloration or signs of disease or fungus. Those are the fish we would stay away from.
Otherwise if the body of water isn’t polluted and the fish looks healthy then it’s probably safe to eat White Bass!
Are White Bass Good to Eat
Most consider White Bass good to eat when they are taken care of and prepared properly. When cleaning your fish you should remove the red or dark meat and soak it in milk for at least two hours, this will help get rid of the fishy flavor. Like with any fish species, the fresher the fish is the better it’s going to taste.
Signup for my monthly newsletter to get content and gear recommendations every month. I'll send you stuff I like, I will never spam you.
Do you need to bleed White Bass
You don’t need to bleed White Bass, but we recommend bleeding any fish that you plan to eat. Bleeding a fish helps get rid of the fishy flavor that a lot of people do not like. After dispatching the fish, cut the gills and either put them in gallon bucket for a few minutes or rinse them in the body of water you caught them in.
Here is a good video on how to bleed a fish and the method we use for any fish species.
How Does White Bass Taste?
Most critics of White Bass will say they taste super fishy, but people who know how to prepare this fish and enjoy eating it say it taste a lot like Crappie or Striper.
White Bass are an oily fish, but not as oily as Cod. Some say this fish taste buttery, but in our experience this usually comes from the butter used to cook the fish.
Water and diet also effect how this fish taste. The cleaner the water your fish live in and the healthier the baitfish around it will heavily impact how good a fish taste. The healthier your fish is the better it will taste.
Is White Bass Fishy?
If you’re looking for a fish that is mild in flavor, this is not your fish. While preparing fish properly will help get rid of the overly fishy taste, White Bass still taste like fish, just not in a bad way.
When it comes to the “fishy” flavor, there are things you can do to help get rid of that and we will cover that here in a bit. Most of the fishy flavor comes from the dark or red meat of the fish. Removing the dark meat when you are preparing the fish will remove a lot of that fishy flavor. Bleeding the fish and soaking the fish in milk also helps remove the fishy taste.
Preparing White Bass
The cool thing about White Bass is that they tend to school up and you can catch them in numbers once you find them. They also yield a good amount of meat so once you have yourself a couple or more you have enough to feed a good amount of people.
See Also: Best White Bass Lures
The first step in preparing a White Bass or any fish from that matter is to dispatch them, bleed them and put them on ice as soon as possible. You can put them on a stringer or put them in your livewell, but the longer you do this will cause the fish to stress out and release lactic acid into the meat which can also affect the taste.
If you plan on cooking the fish with the skin on, all you need to do is remove the scales and cut the filets off your fish. However you should only do this if you don’t mind the fishy flavor because the dark meat is the meat closest to the skin.
How do you get rid of the fishy taste in White Bass?
- To get rid of the Fishy taste you’re going to want to bleed your fish as soon as you dispatch it.
- Once the fish has been bled you’re going to want to filet it and remove it from the skin.
- Remove the dark meat from the filet, this is where most of the fishy flavor comes from.
- Soak it in milk for about 2 hours. Soaking it in milk will help remove any blood left in the meat and get rid of that fishy taste. Make sure you don’t soak it too long or the meat will be mushy instead of flaky.
How do you filet White Bass?
- With your filet knife cut down right behind the gills towards the spine
- Once you hit the spine, turn your knife blade towards the tail and cut down the spine. Angle the blade slightly down making sure you’re making contact with the spine.
- As you cut towards the tail cut right above the ribs
- Once your past the ribs cut down to the tail
- Flip your filet over and leave it attached to the tail. Cut a little down and cut right above the skin, not to the skin. The thin meat you leave attached to the skin is the dark meat where all the fishy flavor comes from.
- Cut down the lateral line where the ribs were attached and you have your filet. You can keep the section you cut off the filet for pickling.
- Rinse your filet and repeat steps 1-6 on the other sides.
You can see all the steps I described in the video below.
Can you freeze White Bass?
You can, but we don’t recommend it. Freezing White Bass tends to make the meat mushy and not flaky. This isn’t to say that you can’t do it. You can and it will taste pretty well, but the texture will change when the fish starts to thaw out. Totally up to you, but White Bass normally taste better fresh than frozen. If you don’t mind a mushy texture or just want to experiment then go for it. Freeze a couple filets and see how you like it.
How to Cook White Bass
Now that your fish is prepped and ready to be cooked, you’re probably wondering all the different ways you can cook this sucker. You can obviously fry White Bass just like any other fish, but there are other methods.
Pan Seared White Bass
Pan searing is a favorite of ours. A good seasoning and some butter and lemon and you can’t go wrong. This meat tends to get a good sear and if you’re using a cast iron you can put on a really good crust and flavor. Medium to high heat is the sweet spot and we recommend about a 2-3 minutes a side.
You’ll know when it’s time to flip when the fish can be turned over. If you have to force it over to flip it needs more time. The fish will also tell you when it’s ready. The meat will start to split slightly and flake. This your sign that the fish is done cooking and ready to eat.
Grilled White Bass
Grilling is another good way to cook White Bass. We like to grill fish on a cedar wood plank. This makes sure the fish doesn’t stick to the grill. You can also stick a cast iron if you are using a charcoal grill and grill it that way. Same as the pan seared method. Season it and add some lemon and it will be a delicious meal. You don’t need to flip this one as it will cook all the way around almost like an oven once you close the lid. If you do this method, feel free to throw the fish in some tortillas for fish tacos.
Fried White Bass
The ultimate and supreme way to eat any fish is fried fish and White Bass is no different. Use your favorite batter method and go to town. This is a fan favorite and can please even the most picky eater. Throw some french fries on the side with some tartar sauce and cocktail sauce and you’re having a party on the plate.
Fried White Bass Recipe
Our favorite way to eat White Bass is frying them into nuggets or whole filets. I like to do it simple. You only need a few ingredients.
- 1 lbs. of White Bass Filets
- 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 the fish with with the spice mixture. This is important. Always season your meat and your batter.
- Wet your fish. If your fish was soaking in milk, just pat it dry but leave a little moisture. You can also use water or hot sauce as a binder.
- Coat your fish in the cornmeal and spice mixture. Using Fine cornmeal is important here. Nothing worse than having big grains of cornmeal inbetween 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.
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 3-4 inch pieces.
Are White Bass Bony fish?
Most Bass fish have very little bones in the filets. Most of the bones are in the rib area and in the case of White Bass this is true. You wont need to use tweezers to remove pin bones or Y bones from this cut of meat and there isn’t much meat in the rib section so just cut that out and you’re good to go.
Are White Bass good eating?
If you’re comparing them to other freshwater species, they are a up there with Crappie, Walleye and Bluegill if you prepare them right. They are fun to catch and delicious to each. With any fish it’s important that you respect the fish and prepare them properly.
If you’re not convinced by now, I can’t help ya bud! Go out there and catch some White Bass and throw them in the fryer and see for yourself! If you’re looking for the best lures for catching White Bass, please take a look at my previous post!