With summer in full swing, there are few things more enjoyable than spending the day fishing with friends and family than finishing off the evening by eating your catch.
Knowing that they were only swimming around hours ago means you know they are fresh and ready to eat.
However, it can be daunting to someone who may be new to fishing or to someone who has never filleted a fish before, but it’s actually pretty easy. Below we’re going to go over how to properly care for, clean and cook the fish.
The largemouth bass is easily one of if not the most popular freshwater game fish in the US. They are prevalent in most lakes and many places stock them year-round.
As long as you follow the guidelines set in place by the state department, then you should have no issue taking fish from a lake for consumption.
Below we have a step by step guide on how to care for your catch and how to filet them.
Keep your fish in either a cooler full of water or ice. Or you could also keep them in a live well on a boat or even a stringer in the water.
If you’ve chosen to keep them alive until you get home, you’ll have to give them a swift whack on top of the head to ensure they’re not alive during the fileting process.
Take your fish and lay it on the cutting board. Hold the head down with your off-hand.
Make a cut from above the top of the gill plate down and back on a straight line that goes behind the pectoral fin. Do not cut through the backbone, cut down it.
Insert the knife an inch into the top of the fish, perpendicular to the line you just cut. Stay on the same side of the backbone.
Slice back toward the rear of the fish, down to the top of the rib cage, but not through it.
Once you’ve reached the end of the rib cage, you’ll push the knife all the way through the fish and continue cutting all the way through the tail.
With your off-hand lift the filet away from the backbone using the blade to carve the filet away from the fish.
If you want to remove the skin then lay the filet skin down on the cutting board. Hold the tail with your off-hand and slide the knife in between the meat and the skin.
Slowly slide the knife to the front of the filet separating the flesh from the skin.
Side Note: If you plan on eating the skin attached to the filet then you will need to scrape off the scales. This can be done by taking a spoon or a butter knife and scraping the scales off of the fish.
Fish Filet Equipment
There are certain pieces of equipment that you will need in order to properly and safely filet your fish. They are:
The filet knife, of course, being the most important tool of filleting. The blade is extremely sharp and flexible which allows for precise cutting from different angles.
Electric filet knives are out there, but those work best on larger fish. For smaller fish such as bass and panfish, a regular filet knife is best.
Dealing with fish can be a slippery business. Pair that with an incredibly sharp knife and you’ve got an accident waiting to happen. A filet glove can help prevent cuts on your off-hand and is highly recommended if you are new to fileting.
A cutting board is needed to protect your fillets from dirt and debris. They even make filleting cutting boards that have a clip on the end of it to hold the tail of the fish in place.
The trash can is where you throw any pieces that you do not plan on eating. Excess skin, bones, entrails, and the body of the fish.
The water hose is used when filleting fish to help clean off any scales and to clean the meat before cooking.
Can you eat Bass?
That’s a resounding yes! Bass are members of the sunfish family and can be eaten when taken from clean water. You typically do not hear much about people eating largemouth or smallmouth bass, but they are a completely edible game fish and can be quite tasty.
You can cook them in many different ways but frying is the best. See below for a quick and easy frying recipe.
Heat your oil in either your skillet or deep fryer to 350 degrees.
Sprinkle both sides of the filet with Old Bay or Cajun seasoning.
Dredge the fillets in a combination of 1 ½ cups of medium ground cornmeal and ½ cup flour and shake off any excess then dip in egg wash
Fry on each side for 4 minutes or until golden
Serve with tartar sauce or hot sauce, and wash it down with a beverage from a brown bottle.
What does bass taste like?
The largemouth bass is a white fish that has both a flaky and meaty texture. Thanks to its size it is not quite as flaky as panfish, but also not quite as sweet.
They have a stronger fishy flavor than other freshwater species and is one reason why you don’t hear much about people eating them. Overall, they are a meaty, flaky white fish and when properly prepared can be delicious.
The smallmouth bass is held in higher regard when it comes to taste. They also have a meaty and flaky white fishy texture, but they have a sweeter flavor. The sweeter flavor is why many prefer them to largemouth.
Fish fries are a great way to get the family together for an evening summer party. It’s delicious fish that was freshly caught, and sitting around the grease together can be a great way to relax bond after a long day out on the water.
These can be cooked up in several different ways including baking, sautéing, and the most popular way is to batter and deep fry until golden and crispy.
There are few nights better spent than with family and friends, munching on some fresh fish while talking about the successful day spent out on the water.