Can You Eat Largemouth Bass? Is It Good To Consume?

If it’s not toxic, and you can digest it, you can eat it. Whether or not you should eat it, or there’s any value in eating it, is a completely different question.

There are a few things you need to be aware of before eating largemouth bass. However, this due diligence goes for all fish species.

But if it’s fished from clean waters and cooked properly, largemouth bass can be tasty and nutritious.

Interestingly, largemouth does not frequent our tables, and it’s not uncommon for people to ask if you can eat largemouth. 

Let’s explore this a little.

Can You Eat Largemouth Bass?

The short answer is yes, you can eat largemouth bass. Moreover, when caught from clean waters and prepared correctly, largemouth can be a great feed.

The surrounding geography and water conditions influence the flavor and table suitability of freshwater fish.

In this way, freshwater fish differ from their saltwater cousins.

That’s not to say the environment doesn’t impact saltwater fish. Striped bass is a great example of excellent saltwater table fish.

However, while the environment does not impact stripey flavors, the concentrations of PCB, mercury, and other such carelessly introduced toxins in some areas directly affect their safety for consumption.

Toxins like PCB invade ecosystems to a genetic level, and freshwater fish are not immune. 

It’s hard to detect traces of toxins via taste, so it’s imperative you consume largemouth from waters free of industrial fallout.

Freshwaters are susceptible to algal blooms, mud, and heavy sediment. Fish caught in such conditions carry undesirable flavors reflective of these conditions. 

And it’s not nice.

The key here is to know the waters you’re fishing and only catch largemouth bass from relatively clean waters. 

When you do this, you can expect a tasty, healthy meal of fish.

Does Largemouth Bass Taste Good?

Taste and flavor are very personal. However, it is safe to say that if you enjoy fish, and you enjoy them prepared in a variety of ways, you will enjoy largemouth bass.

There’s nothing ‘fishy,’ oily, or strong about largemouth. And it’s these particular features that most fish eaters avoid.

The flesh is white and firm, with good flavor. The flesh is lean and high in protein and therefore quite healthy.

Largemouth responds well to several preparations and cooking methods, and depending on your choice, flavors can vary significantly.

For example, cooking whole or cooking fillets, skin on or off, all contribute to the flavor even before you add spice, butter sauces, or other flavors and condiments.

Largemouth Bass

Pulled straight from the water, gutted, scaled, filleted, and thrown straight onto a pan in butter, while rudimentary, it delivers great results.

Also Read: Best Spinning Reel For Bass

What Size Bass is Best to Eat?

The best size for eating bass is smaller than 15 inches. When taking fish for the table, make sure you are familiar with the legal size limits in the area from which you take it.

The flesh of smaller fish tastes better. It is also easier to cook, if a little trickier to fillet than the larger fish.

Smaller fish also have had less time to accumulate toxins. For this reason, they are the safer and healthier choice.

Larger fish are fine for the table too. However, the flavor tends to lessen as size increases. Care should be taken when cooking larger fillets to ensure even cooking.

A great way to cook larger fish is to cut them into steaks instead of filleting them.

You can still cut away fine bones and only have the backbone, which is easy enough to deal with.

Cutting steaks of even thickness makes it easier to cook through evenly. A little salt, butter, and garlic are all that will be required to boost flavor.

See Also: 30 Bass Fishing Tips

How to Prep and Cook Largemouth Bass Fillets

Like any fish, you can take several approaches that will depend on your utensils, cooking equipment, and, of course, your taste.

The key tool to an easy prep, whichever method you choose, is an exceptionally sharp filleting knife.

For those who like whole fish, your job is pretty simple. Gut, gill, scale, then rinse, and your fish is ready to go.

I’m not a fan of cooking whole fish. Particularly smaller ones. 

There are too many bones to deal with, which I find annoying, and the fish goes cold as I spend time battling with bones. 

It’s also likely to have a ‘fishier’ flavor to it, particularly as the skin and head are left on 

Nonetheless, there are plenty of fish fans who like the whole fish method. Baking is the best method for whole fish, wrapped in foil, with a slice of lemon.

Check out these videos. The first video gives a beginner’s guide to filleting largemouth bass. It’s slower, provides tips, and identifies key anatomy.

Once you’re reasonably adept at handling a filleting knife, you can up the pace a little, as demonstrated here in this video

Filleting and skinning bass delivers the best flavor by far. The skin can be left on, and if fried, it offers a more crunch texture. I’m not a fan of the skin on bass fillets, however.

Fillets can be baked, battered, deep-fried, steamed, or shallow fried in butter or oil after being lightly dusted with flour.

My preferred method by far is to shallow fry skinned fillets in nothing but butter. It’s very simple, fast, and easily done in the kitchen or over a campfire.

In my experience, this method delivers the best flavor and is a great skill to learn. What’s more, it’s not too difficult to get it right.

Once you have the knack, you can clean fish very quickly.

See Also: What Size Spinning Reel For Bass

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Largemouth Bass Eat?

It all depends on the location, but largemouth bass are predators and will have a go at nearly anything that moves, up to half its body size and even bigger.

They’re very aggressive hunters, which is why they are so sought after by anglers. 

The largemouth diet includes other fish such as bluegill, crappy, shad, and herring. They also take crays, as well as insects and lizards, from the surface.

Not even the ducks and snakes are safe from their huge mouths. If you’re in the water and moving, you’re definitely bass food.

Do Largemouth Bass Have Mercury?

The largemouth is known to contain mercury. It depends on where you catch them. 

Bass caught from heavily populated, commercial, farmland, and industrial areas, have a much higher chance of holding mercury and other such toxins.

Can You Eat Largemouth Bass From a Pond?

Maybe, but I’d probably avoid it. Ponds tend to have stagnant water more susceptible to toxin and algal build-up. 

They are less clean as the water is rarely flushed.

While it might be possible, I suggest you don’t eat largemouth bass from ponds, particularly in built-up areas, industrial areas, or rural commercial operations.

What Are the Health Benefits of Eating a Largemouth Bass?

The largemouth is high in protein and low in fat. This is a great contributor to any diet. 
Generally speaking, eating fish as part of a balanced diet is a great idea.

Fish are good for you. Check this out.

Eating Largemouth Bass Wrap up

I hope this has answered the question – can you eat largemouth bass

While mostly hunted as a sport fish, Largemouth bass are still fine to eat when taken from clean ecosystems.

Thankfully for Largemouth populations, they’re not highly sought as a table delicacy.

Largemouth stocks stay relatively healthy because the majority of the anglers who hunt them practice catch and release.

Catch and release have been critical to fish survival, and it’s imperative that this practice continues to grow.

Bass anglers have set the example of how fish stocks can be preserved by returning the vast majority of all they catch to the ecosystem from whence they came.

It would be interesting to see what the case would be if Largemouth has the same table credentials as coral trout, dorado, or bluefin, for example.

While largemouth, cleaned, prepared, and cooked well can be fine table fare, the fish gods have blessed them with a ‘sport only’ status that has ensured their continued survival.

I like to eat the fish I catch. So I’ll keep a couple to eat shortly after the catch and share with the family. 

I won’t keep anything that requires freezing. A dead fish laying in my freezer could be doing far more good swimming about and breeding.

Sure. Take a few largemouth bass for the table. It’s one of the greatest joys of fishing. 

Always be sure to leave more than you take, and you’ll be able to pass on this joy for generations.

Additional Resources

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Sean Ward

Hey there, my name is Sean – OnTrack Fishing is my site. I’m based in the UK yet I’ve been fortunate enough to catch bass in the States, barramundi in Australia, trout here at home and carp on the Danube delta. If I’m not fishing, or talking about fishing, then….I’m probably asleep.


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