Largemouth bass can be delicious, and they have firm white meat that can be prepared in various ways. Many anglers compare largemouth bass meat to that of a larger sunfish. If you clean it, store it, and prepare it properly, largemouth bass is a tasty option.
Growing up, I never considered eating largemouth bass. While many other freshwater fish were considered acceptable, I heard largemouth bass were dirty fish that weren’t worth eating. Other anglers said it was wrong to eat largemouth bass due to their struggling populations. Now, my perspective has changed.
Is Largemouth Bass Good to Eat?
The smaller the bass, the more firm the meat. This is the general rule of thumb for most freshwater fish. Larger, older fish will generally have soggier meat that does not taste as good.
But a medium or small bass can have quality meat that tastes delicious. A quality bass has firm meat with a mild flavor, and even the highest quality largemouth bass will have a fishy flavor.
Another factor you should consider before you eat bass is the water quality you’re fishing. The first largemouth bass I ate came from a warm, muddy, algae-filled pond, and the meat was mushy and tasted like dirt.
It took me several years to get over that taste and be willing to try largemouth again. I made sure the bass was smaller and came from clear water, and it tasted much better.
Is It Okay to Eat Largemouth Bass?
Yes, eating largemouth bass is legal and ethical as long as the bass you keep are within the bag limits in your area. Even though largemouth bass are a protected fish, most states are happy to let anglers keep a few bass to eat.
Is It Safe to Eat Largemouth Bass?
Like most fish, largemouth bass have mercury within their meat. Too much largemouth bass can lead to mercury poisoning. Experts recommend that pregnant women and young children avoid eating largemouth bass. Adults should stick to one helping per week to stay safe.
Proper Size of Bass to Eat
I’ve found that largemouth bass in the 10- to 15-inch range are the best eaters. They aren’t old fish, so the meat is firm. Plus, the 10- to 15-inch fish fit within the slot limit many states have in place.
The 10-15 inch fish are around two pounds, so you don’t get a ton of meat, but it’s enough for a meal.
Largemouth Bass Preparation & Recipes
Before you get into the cooking of largemouth bass, it’s essential to know how to properly prepare them for eating. If done improperly, bass meat will taste awful and potentially spoil.
Get Them Cold
A bass in a livewell all day long will not taste as good as a fish that’s quickly fileted and put on ice. If you know you’ll keep the fish, filet it as soon as possible.
This is going to keep the meat in the best possible condition. The longer the fish sits in a livewell, the more stressed they become, resulting in lower-quality meat.
Get Rid of the Dark Line and Flesh
The filets you cut from a largemouth bass will have a dark line that runs through the middle. You should remove this line when possible. Any dark meat has a higher chance of being mushy and tasting poor.
Pan Fried Largemouth Bass With Lemon Garlic Herb Butter Sauce
My favorite way to eat largemouth bass is with a lemon garlic herb butter sauce. Plus, the recipe is quick and easy.
To start, you want to season the filets with salt and pepper. Then, place a saute pan with two tablespoons of olive oil on a burner. Next, put the filets in flour, shake off the extra, and place them in the pan to fry.
Let the filets cook on each side for three minutes, then remove them.
Add four tablespoons of unsalted butter to the pan, let it melt, and then add a tablespoon of garlic. The garlic will become light brown, and that’s the time to add the herbs. I use 1/4 cup of basil, parsley, cilantro, and oregano.
I remove it from the heat and add two teaspoons of lemon juice.
I then pour that sauce on the filet, and it’s ready to eat. It’s delicious. This was one of my favorite bachelor meals.
Whole Bass with Mustard
If you’re in the mood for a bit fancier presentation, this whole bass with mustard is a treat.
I’ll start by cleaning the guts, scaling, and dressing the fish. Next, I’ll rub the inside and outside of the largemouth bass with olive oil and salt.
After it’s covered, I cut three or four small slits in the side of the fish. In those slits, I put some rosemary and garlic, and I’ll even throw some in the fish cavity for extra flavor.
After this, I’ll put the fish in a baking dish with 1/3 cup of Dijon mustard and white wine and let it bake for 10 to 15 minutes. This recipe also works well for the grill, and I’ll let it marinate in the wine and mustard for 30 to 45 minutes and then grill it until it’s brown on both sides.
Largemouth bass don’t have to be an untouchable fish; keeping a few smaller bass helps the other fish grow larger. Again, I try to eat 10- to 15-inch largemouth bass caught in clear, cool water.
It only takes one bad experience with a largemouth bass to swear them off forever. With some trial and error, finding a tasty largemouth bass recipe is easy.