Bass are one of the most popular species to fish for, particularly in the US. But for many anglers, this is where the story ends. This article investigates the possibility of eating one after catching it.
So, is Bass good to eat?
Bass are good to eat, and they are and particularly good for you too if prepared and cooked correctly. They are full of protein and low in fat, which is ideal for those who are mindful of their diet and weight. Although most Bass anglers work to the catch and release rule, it is acceptable to keep one for your dinner.
Dining on Bass is a one-off experience every time you eat it, as their taste depends on both what they eat themselves and the habitat in which they live. Bass has white flesh and a meaty texture. It can be grilled, fried, or baked, but do not overcook them as they can become chewy.
The Best Way To Cook Bass
Preparing Bass takes time. It needs to be descaled. The best way to manage this is by using a fish scaler or the back of a knife. Work from the fish’s tail and rub upwards to the head until it feels smooth, then rinse under running water.
To gut the Bass, simply insert a knife into the base of the head around the gill area, then cut along the belly, keeping in line with the spine. Cut from head to the anal vent, remove innards and rinse well under running water.
To fillet the fish, use a sharp filleting knife. Cut just past the gill to the spine, then work your way down the body in a slightly sawing motion to the tail. Next, using your thumb, lift the meat from the neck area and cut the fish from the rib cage. Turn the fish over and repeat the process.
Wash the fillet under running water. Frequent washing when preparing the Bass will help remove any living bacteria. To skin the fillet, place your fillet skin side down and, using pressure and with a sharp knife, cut the meat from the bone.
Let’s go for fried first. Sprinkle the Bass fillet with all-purpose flour, salt, and pepper. Cover in a beaten egg mixture, then breadcrumb. Shallow fry in sunflower oil until golden brown on both sides, usually three to four minutes each side.
Baked Bass is better if the skin is left on. It adds a wonderful crispy texture to your meal. Use a mixture of oil and butter to oven cook the fillet. First, bake skin side down for a short time, then flip to crisp the skin. Plain and simple, but very tasty.
In general, grilled fish is “good” for you as we tend to add less fats, but lightly grilled Bass can be just as good as baking and fried. Brush lightly with garlic butter, salt, and pepper and grill for six or seven minutes on each side. It is dependent on the thickness of the fillet.
Baked whole Bass is easy to prepare and delicious. Wash the prepared fish inside and out, then pat dry it, score both sides of the Bass. Brush inside and out with olive oil, and it can be stuffed with whatever your preference is. Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and dill are good, just cut them up a bit and mix in some garlic and lemon juice and fill the stomach cavity. Salt and pepper the outside of the fish, then cook at a high-temperature 450F for around twenty minutes.
Whether you have fried, baked, or grilled your Bass, whole or filleted, good accompaniments for your eating experience are wild rice, tossed green salad, a ragout, or just crusty fresh bread. A crisp, dry wine accompanied with your fish dinner will ensure you experience Bass at its absolute best.
Other Noteworthy Information
Bass can contain mercury, so they should not be eaten in significant quantities.
Pregnant women should avoid eating Bass, as should young children.
Facts About Bass
In the US, we tend to think of largemouth (black) bass when considering this species. But the name Bass is shared by many freshwater and saltwater fish that all belong to the order of perch-like fish known as Perciformes.
Here in the US, three bass species make up a group that together are the most popular game fish in the country. These species are Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Striped Bass. According to the Department of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, 43% of freshwater anglers fish for Black or Largemouth Bass. This makes it a huge sport across all the States.
Here are some interesting facts about bass you may not have known:
- Their average lifespan is 10 to 16 years.
- They will tackle prey of up to 35% of their body length, so don’t be afraid to over-size that lure!
- After the female lays her eggs, the male fish will guard them until they hatch, which can be up to 10 days.
- Largemouth Bass have color vision and are attracted to red.
- They can sense the vibrations of their prey using a lateral line sense.
- They are fast. Bass can swim at 2.5 times their body length per second.
- French explorers first discovered largemouth Bass in Florida in 1562
- Japan holds the unofficial record for Largemouth Bass when in 2009, a Japanese angler caught a bass that weighed in at 22.5lb. Although it is the largest recorded bass, it is tied with the world record because it didn’t exceed the previous record by more than 2 oz.
- The record it ties with was caught in Lake Montgomery in Georgia in 1932 by an angler named George Perry. It weighed in at 22 pounds and 4 ounces!
- Fish over 8lb in weight are considered trophy-sized
- They can be caught in every mainland state in the US, including Alaska. They are also fished for in Hawaii.
- Over 30 million anglers fish for them throughout the USA
Why Is Bass Fishing So Popular?
The two most common species that are fished for as largemouth and smallmouth bass. Part of their popularity is down to the sheer availability of the species. Prevalent in just about every state in the US, this means anyone who wants to take up angling can tackle these species. It is also cheap to get started. With no specialist or expensive equipment required, it is a sport that anyone can take up.
Bass aren’t too fussy or tricky to catch, which means they are a fantastic way for novices to enter the sport, and many of these novices are happy to stick with Bass fishing.
Bass Fishing Techniques and Tips
You can fish for bass all year round, however depending on the local climate, in most instances, from early spring to late fall is the best period. However, this is a general rule of thumb, and if you adapt your fishing technique, many anglers will use suspended jerk baits to lure the lethargic fish.
For the rest of the year, and perhaps all year, depending on the climate, they will succumb to just about any method of fishing. Below is our list of top tips and tricks to hook that trophy fish:
- Keep Those Savaged Worms – Bass love to prey on the wounded. When they see your ragged worm, they could be more inclined to attack.
- Keep it Shallow in the Spawning Season – In the spring, the bass tend to linger around the spawning grounds, look for shallow and sheltered areas. They are likely to strike as your lure could be seen as a threat to the eggs they are guarding or just out of plain annoyance.
- Use Red Colored Lures – As we mentioned, Bass are triggered by the color red. They may equate this with a sign of injury, but for whatever reason, it works!
- Keep Your Hooks Sharp – This is a painful lesson that most anglers will be able to tell you their own tale of woe about. This applies to all fishing, but Bass have bony jaws that can make it difficult to set the hook.
- Cast into the Wind – Although this will diminish the distance you can cast, this method is less likely to spook the fish.
- Practice – Finally, practice makes perfect. You have to learn the fish’s habits, how to read the water, and how to select the right bait. The beauty of bass fishing is it is easy to get started, and you never stop learning.
Bass are the perfect fish for anglers of all skill levels and, when prepared and cooked correctly, can taste delicious too! And the fact that you caught it, prepared it, and cooked it makes it even more special. So, now you know how to catch, prepare and cook your bass, what are you waiting for?
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Don’t forget to check out our other Fish Guide articles.
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