Can You Eat Largemouth Bass? – What You need To Know

can you eat largemouth bass

When you think of largemouth bass, you think of bass fishing.

All anglers dream of catching these large and majestic aquatic creatures.

  • But, can you eat them?
  • Or, are they mere trophy items for fishers and anglers?
  • Let’s explore everything about consuming this species.

Eating Fish – Risks & Benefits

From doctors to dieticians – everyone says eating fish is good for health.

For centuries, it has been the main source of long-chain, omega-3 fats for humans.

Omega-3 fats are nutrients that help prevent heart diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and other conditions.

  • Both fresh and saltwater fish are rich in Omega-3 fats and other nutrients like protein, selenium, and vitamin D.
  • According to a new study from Harvard, people who eat 1-2 servings of fatty fish every week reduce their chances of dying from heart diseases by 36%.
  • The American Heart Association advises people to eat fish at least two to three times per week.

So, which fish should you eat? Salmon, anchovies, herring, mackerel, and bass – there are many options.

The most contested one on that list is the largemouthed bass.

Many people avoid eating bass due to various reasons.

Most people don’t actively seek out largemouthed bass in the markets. Salmon or tuna or even imported Japanese amberjack are more appealing to them in terms of taste.

But, what about those who catch bass? Should they eat their catch?

After all, all forms of bass – from sea bass to striped bass to largemouth bass, are rich in nutrients.

These are rich in proteins, manganese, phosphorus, omega-3s, and vitamin B12. Plus, largemouth bass fishing is one of the most popular sports in the US.

There are 30+ million bass anglers in the US (approximately 10% of the population).

Sports like tennis or golf pale in comparison to largemouthed bass fishing.

The bass fishing industry in the US is reported to be worth over $60 billion.

So, what happens to all the bass that fishers catch throughout the year.

Do they eat them? Is bass good to eat?

Let’s address these questions.

Can You Eat Largemouth Bass?

Largemouth Bass


Is eating largemouth bass good?


Not only can you eat it, but you can also relish the experience.

Of course, like with any food item, the preparation and cooking procedures need to be perfect.

But, when well-prepared largemouth bass taste is surprisingly good.

Is it flawlessly delicious?


There is many other freshwater fish that are naturally tastier – Tuna, Yellow Perch, Black Crappie, etc., all fall in that category.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t cook up a great meal with largemouth bass.

Eating Largemouth Bass: Understanding the Experience

Like all tastes, the bass taste is subjective.

In general, the largemouth bass has a medium fillet texture which makes it very “chomp-able.” Its flavors are nutty and earthy.

These flavors are mild so you don’t get any nasty, fishy taste, in your mouth.

Instead, you get tastes that are mild, nutty, and delicate.

Of course, people who avoid eating bass will disagree with these descriptions.

They’re likely to find bass taste muddy or smelly.

The truth is that bass taste varies on the basis of where they were caught.

If you catch bass from a clean river or a fresh spring-fed lake – its taste will reflect those clean flavors.

If you catch bass from a small and swampy lake – you’ll get that muddy and fishy taste in your mouth.

So, if you want to eat largemouth bass and enjoy the experience, you’ll have to find the right bass fishing spots first.

There are different types of fish that contain mercury.

Thankfully, largemouth bass isn’t one of them.

These fishes have relatively low mercury levels compared to European sea bass or Black Sea bass.

But, according to the USDA, all fish (including bass fish) must be cooked at 145 °F before consumption.

Catch and Release: The Unwritten Rule of Bass Fishing

Catching bass

Most fishermen go largemouthed bass fishing for the accolades.

Catching largemouthed bass fish is like earning a trophy that most anglers crave. This over-emphasis on catching trophy-sized bass fish has led to the rise of catch and release angling – a practice that many anglers follow.

Anglers capture largemouth bass fish.

Then, they measure, weigh, and take pictures of their catch. The fish is then unhooked and the anglers release largemouth bass into the water.

This well-established practice in recreational angling is widely considered to be a noble thing to do.

You’re not killing and eating largemouthed bass – you’re letting them go alive – sounds pretty noble, right?

Actually, it’s not. Several researchers have claimed that catching fish for a few minutes and then releasing them back into the water causes them great distress.

These fish are at a much higher risk of dying once they re-enter the water.

In most cases, the released fish have damaged gills and viscera which ultimately lead to their helpless and painful deaths.

So, you’re not doing the fish any favors by releasing them into the water.

What about the fish ecosystem? Aren’t you damaging the overall aquatic ecosystem by killing and eating largemouthed bass?

Again, no.

Most biologists and wildlife managers agree that keeping bass fish populations in check can help surrounding fish populations.

But, that doesn’t mean all anglers should stop following the catch and release practice.

Doing it in moderation is the most important thing for people who fish largemouthed bass. So, how many largemouth bass fish should you keep & eat and how many should you release?

Most states have restrictions regarding how many largemouth bass fish people can catch and keep (and not release). The daily bag limit is usually five or less in most of these states.

So, every fisher is legally allowed to keep five largemouthed bass fish a day.

Of course, no angler wants to or will retain so many of these large fish.

But, keeping a few bass fish for the fryer makes total sense.

Make sure that the fish you catch (and take home to eat) fall within the size limits in your area.

The Best Practices to Eat Bass

Like all white meat, eating largemouth bass in moderation is very important. Here are some general guidelines on human consumption of largemouthed bass –

  • Ideally, your catch shouldn’t be any bigger than 15 inches. That’s the most common legal-size limit in most states. Plus, the smaller the catch, the easier it is to cook.
  • Smaller bass is also less likely to accumulate toxins. Hence, they taste better than larger, black bass. Freshwater bass tastes better than saltwater species.
  • ·Avoid bass from stagnant waters. Those are likelier to taste bad. Eating fresh catch from fresh river waters is the safest and healthiest choice. Larger ones are harder to prepare.
  • Pregnant women must avoid eating all types of bass. The bass from stagnant waters in particular may contain mercury. Even small-scale exposure to mercury can be very unhealthy for pregnant women and their unborn children.

There are many ways to cook largemouth bass. Learn whatever recipe you prefer in advance before you bring back these fish from your fishing trip. The way people cook freshwater bass is completely different from the way they cook their saltwater counterparts.

Learn about these subtle differences before you decide to eat bass fish. Here’s a basic guide on how to prep and cook largemouth bass fish –

Always gut, gill, scale, and clean your fish before you take it inside your kitchen.

  • Cut the fish into small steaks. Cooking small pieces of white meat is much easier than cooking larger fillets.
  • Cut away all the bones except for the backbone. While eating, pluck pieces of meat off this bone (a very easy process).
  • Cook each piece of fish evenly at medium heat. Most people cook largemouthed bass fish in olive oil. They use salt, lemon juice, butter, garlic, and other flavor-boosting ingredients to prepare a great meal.


Using the right tools is vital for creating good eating experiences.

Just like the best anglers use the best reels for bass fishing, they also use the best tools to cook their catch.

Always use the right utensils, cooking equipment, and filleting knives to prepare your fish.

Once you’ve cut the large fish into fine small pieces, you can bake, batter, steam, or deep fry them.

Keep experimenting with new ingredients, spices, and flavors. Catch and eat largemouthed bass in style!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is largemouthed bass okay to eat?

Yes. But, the cooking methods you use will determine how good they are in terms of taste.

Why are you not supposed to eat a bass?

The largemouth bass isn’t considered to be a tasty fish like walleye or salmon. But, you can still eat them as long as they’re not from muddy or stagnant water bodies.

What does largemouthed bass taste like?

Plain largemouth bass (fried or steamed) tastes nutty and earthy.

Is it frowned upon to eat a bass?

In the world of sport fishing, “catch and release” is the official policy. Trophy fishers catch largemouth bass only to release them into the water after a few minutes. However, science has proven that this practice isn’t as beneficial as fishers think it is. So, eating bass fish is no longer frowned upon.