Can You Eat Bass? [Is it Freshwater Bass Good and Safe?]

Can You Eat Bass

There is nothing better than eating a fresh fish that you just caught by yourself.

However, some fish species are tastier than others. In addition to that, some fish are a part of certain myths and misconceptions regarding their consumption.

So, before I tell you more about this subject, I will answer the important questions, and that are: Can you eat bass and do people eat bass?

YES, you can eat bass! Freshwater bass is an exciting specie to catch, and it is absolutely safe for human consumption. It contains omega 3 fatty acids, as well as a fairly large amount of protein. The reason why some people avoid eating it is that it just doesn’t taste as good as some other freshwater fish species.



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Can You Eat Bass? And is Bass Good to Eat?

YES, you can eat bass. But, is bass good to eat?

Well, there are tastier fish out there, and many people, even bass anglers, are not including bass in their menu.

On the other hand, fishing for bass is very fun, and anglers love to do it. That is why many of them practice catch and release, because bass is not as tasty as you would assume.

The thing is that our taste can vary a lot, and not everyone likes to eat the same foods. So, if you are one of those people who find bass tasty, or you have never tried it and you would like to do so, there is nothing to worry about.

Bass is perfectly safe, and even healthy.

Some will say that you shouldn’t eat it because it is toxic, however, those stories have no scientific background, and most likely come from people who heard it somewhere, but have no idea why. There is no valid reason why you shouldn't eat bass.

If you like to eat freshwater fish, but bass does not taste good to you, try another recipe, or switch to fish like trout.

Can You Eat Bass

How Does Freshwater Bass Taste Like?

As already mentioned, tastes are different, and there are a lot of people who don’t find bass very tasty. On the other hand, some people consider it to be a delicious meal.

Bass live in all kinds of waters, and if the water is muddy and full of algae, bass can have a very unpleasant smell and taste.

Of course, there are recipes with so much spices that will camouflage the real flavor, however, if you like a taste of nice freshwater fish, avoid bass from stagnant waters.

Wild bass from a clean water, especially if you catch bass during the colder months when the water is more oxygenated and there are almost no algae, can actually taste good.

Those from “dirty” waters can have a muddy taste, and no matter how much you love freshwater fish, you probably won’t find it delicious. In addition to that, cleaning such fish will be a nightmare, because the smell of the intestines and internal organs can be horrendous.

Besides body of water, you will notice a difference between bass species, and there is more than one.

The most popular ones are smallmouth and largemouth, but you can also find spotted bass, redeye bass, striped bass, white bass, black bass and more. Bass fish populations are abundant, so you can pick the one you like the most!

Largemouth Bass Taste Like vs. Smallmouth!

Now when you know can you eat bass or not, it is time to pick the best one for your next lunch.

So, is largemouth bass good to eat or you shoud opt for the smallmouth?

Largemouth bass, if it comes from clean water, can be a decent lunch. The meat is white and tender when cooked. The taste is quite mild and pleasant. It can be prepared in numerous ways, and almost anyone can find a recipe that suits their taste.

But the thing is that largemouth bass has stronger, and more “fishy” taste and smell too, and a lot of people find it too strong and not very appealing. Can you eat largemouth bass or not depends on your personal taste in food.

Smallmouth bass, when compared to largemouth, has a bit different taste. It is milder and usually less muddy. That is the reason that many people prefer the smallmouth. It is cleaner and less “fishy”. Those who like to prepare their fish without any strong spices, and would like to enjoy the taste of fish meat alone, should opt for this one.

However, both are safe to be consumed, and depending on your personal taste, you may find that you like the opposite more.

Can You Eat Bass - Small vs Large

What Size Bass Should You Eat? [Big Bass vs Small]

Not every bass, even if it comes from the same water, tastes the same.

Very large specimens (trophy bass) usually have stronger taste and smell, and their meat is not as soft and tender, as in smaller fish.

When choosing the best bass size for eating, try to pick those that are less than 35cm/14inches long. So, choose small bass! Larger specimens have harder meat, and the taste can be stronger. This is valid for both smallmouth and largemouth bass.

Smaller specimens can be very good too, but before you decide to take the smaller one home, check the legal limits in your area, and release those which are not within those limits.

Bass that are up to 35cm/14inches long usually weight up to 0.7kg/1.5lb. This of course depends on a bass specie and other factors, but it gives you an idea of the best size.

As bass gets older, it accumulates all kinds of things within the body, even some toxins, and eating large ones, especially from dirty waters, may not be the best option.

Why People Eat Bass? What are the Health Benefits?

Eating fish is very healthy. Fish, including bass, contain omega 3 fatty acids which are very important and healthy for your body. Some fish have more of it than others. In addition to that, fish contain protein and other nutrients that are beneficial for your health. And a lot of fish species are great for those who are trying to lose weight.

Besides already mentioned nutrients, bass contains a lot of manganese, phosphorus, and the B12 vitamin.

All of this is beneficial for reducing cholesterol levels, reducing high blood pressure, and as a result, eating healthy food reduces the risk of coronary diseases.

No matter how healthy some food is, it shouldn’t be consumed on a daily basis, and you should eat a variety of different foods.

Include bass, or any other fish, into your menu about twice a week. One bass per day wont kill you, but eating the same food all the time may lead to lack of certain nutrients that are not contained in that specific food.

Include bass, or any other fish, into your menu about twice a week.

To avoid digesting any toxins, choose the fish from clean waters. Some inland waters are known to contain mercury, and fish from those should be avoided.

Can You Eat Bass - Omega-3

Can Pregnant Women Eat Bass?

There are a lot of advices for pregnant woman, and a lot of them are related to food and associated health risk. But, many of those are more folklore stories than actual facts. So, can you eat bass if you are pregnant? And why and when you shouldn’t?

Fish consumption advisories advocate that women, when pregnant, should avoid toxins, such as mercury. It would be good to avoid tuna and similar species that are known to contain larger amounts of mercury. Even sea bass contains mercury in a bit higher dose.

When it comes to freshwater fish species, including bass, it is more important where the fish came from than the actual specie of fish.

You should avoid eating fish that you have no idea where it came from. Exposure to fish contaminants may jeopardize your health. Certain lakes, ponds and rivers are polluted, and you shouldn’t eat bass and any other fish fish from those. You can check that info for the majority of countries or check the statements from fisheries managers.

When pregnant, it is advisable to eat freshly caught and thermally processed fish, to avoid all possible contaminations. One meal per month, or even one meal per week containing bass is fine, however don’t do more than that just to be on the safe side.

However, keep in mind that all kinds of freshwater and saltwater fish are eaten by pregnant women in some places in the world on a daily basis, so you should be fine.

What is The Best Way to Cook Freshwater Bass? [How to Fillet & Cook]

Freshwater bass can be cooked in many ways.

You can deep fry it, bake it in the oven, pan fry it, or do anything you like.

However, this fish specie, due to its stronger and fishy taste, goes very well in some spicier recipes. I will give you a few ideas for freshwater bass fillets.

To make it healthier, prepare the fish fillet in the oven. Cover the fillets with garlic, onion, and butter. Add some potatoes on the side, and bake until done. You can add other spices if you prefer, like hot sauce or chili peppers.

Another, less healthy, option is to deep fry it in batter. Prepare a flour - corn meal – milk batter and roll the fillets in it. You can add any kind of spices into the batter, or directly onto the fillet before rolling it. Deep fry 3-5 minutes and serve with French fries.

As you can see, many recipes include various other ingredients, because bass is not a fish that many people would like to eat with just a pinch of salt.

Be creative and play with the ingredients, or simply find some other recipes online.

Can You Eat Bass - Fried Bass

Simple Oven-Baked Freshwater Bass Fish Recipe with Lemon

As I said before - bass can be baked in the oven. To get the best results, you'll need:

Ingredients for Oven-Baked Freshwater Bass Fish with Lemon

  • garlic cloves (crushed or minced),
  • lemon wedges,
  • virgin oil,
  • parsley,
  • black pepper,
  • and some white vinegar/white wine (optional).

Directions for Oven-Baked Freshwater Bass Fish with Lemon

  • STEP #1: To get started, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • STEP #2: Proceed by mixing your garlic, black pepper, and olive oil together in a cup.

  • STEP #3: Crush the ingredients to form a thick paste, and then rub it evenly on your bass. Pour some wine/vinegar and spread the ingredients further. This step is optional.

  • STEP #4: Let your fish sit for a few minutes before baking for about 15 minutes.

  • STEP #5: Remove the fish from the oven momentarily and sprinkle the parsley.

  • STEP #6: Continue baking for five more minutes. Your oven-backed bass should be ready at this point.

  • STEP #7: Use a fork to ensure your fish is properly cooked internally. Identify the thickest part, pierce with a fork and twist slowly. If the fish flakes easily and doesn't have a translucent appearance, it is well done.

  • STEP #8: You can also check the internal temperature. Fish that is approximately 140 degrees Fahrenheit internally should be cooked. Garnish using lemon wedges, pour the baking pan juice over the fish and serve.

Can You Eat Bass - Oven-Baked

Can You Eat Freshwater Bass Raw?

Raw fish can be quite delicious. Salmon, trout, and similar species can be eaten smoked, marinated, dried, and not thermally processed. But, can you eat bass raw?

You can eat bass, and other freshwater fish species raw, if they were caught in clean waters and handled properly after they have been caught. Millions of people do it on a daily basis.

The problem with raw fish is that it can contain bacteria and parasites, so if you are unsure about the raw bass you are planning to eat, it may be better to skip it.

Smoking or marinating adds flavor, but does nothing to the potential parasites. Raw fish used in sushi and similar recipes should be held in really low, below freezing, temperatures to kill them. If this step was not done properly, you could face some consequences.

So, the final decision is up to you. Just to be on the safe side, don’t give raw fish to very small children, or people who are chronically and badly ill.


Bass is really popular among fishermen, but you will rarely find it on their dinner table. Because of that, many people ask can you eat bass or not.

This fish is perfectly safe for human health, but it does not taste as well as some other freshwater fish species.

If you can, catch a small/mid-size bass in clean water, possibly the smallmouth one, and prepare it while fresh. You may end up very surprised, especially if you like to spice up the fish. One bass meal per week can improve your health!

No matter which fish you eat, make sure it is fresh and that it was stored correctly. Also, avoid eating raw fish if pregnant, and don’t let very small children eat it.

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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