There are few things more disappointing than spending hours in the sun bass fishing, finally catching a bass, and realizing that you’re likely going to have to throw it back. This could be for a variety of reasons: perhaps the fish is too small to be worth taking home, or maybe you accidentally caught a fish that is currently out of season. However, the good news is that you should never throw back a large, healthy bass, as bass is always in season in many parts of the United States.
So, if you end up catching a rock bass, can you eat it? Rock bass are usually considered edible. Rock bass, like their largemouth and smallmouth bass cousins, are excellent pan-fried or baked and make for an excellent seafood entrée in any meal.
Important note: any edible species of fish may not be edible if found in stagnant or otherwise contaminated water; if you are new to a lake, make sure to check that fishing is safe there.
Read on to learn how to better catch rock bass, differentiate between rock bass and other bass, cook rock bass, and take advantage of the health benefits that accompany eating rock bass.
How can you catch rock bass?
Despite the popularity of crappie, perch, and bluegills, rock bass is just as, if not more, ubiquitous throughout the United States. These fish can be commonly found in a multitude of different areas, from the upper-Midwest all the way down to the south, where it can be found in just about any source of running water.
A rock bass, just like any other bass, are opportunity feeders, meaning they will eat just about anything they can get their jaws around. For you, this means you have a few options for what to use as bait.
Live bait is generally better for catching bass because it moves, smells, and tastes like the real deal. You still have to make sure that it’s still alive from time to time, and sometimes, if it is not secured properly to the hook, it may slip off and escape.
Alternatively, you could opt for imitation bait, which tends to work better for more experienced anglers, but you always run the risk of choosing a lure that fish don’t like—and anyone that’s been fishing on a scalding summer day can attest to just how fickle bass can be when it comes to artificial bait.
In bodies of water, rock bass tend to accumulate near the edges. They prefer shallow, clear water with light vegetation. As a fisher, underwater vegetation can be difficult to navigate because of how quickly one’s fishing line can become tangled in obscured plant-matter. When it comes to adult rock bass, though, they are usually heavy feeders and willing to swim out from the banks if they notice your bait. Use this to your advantage and avoid getting too close to anything you could catch your hook on.
Lastly, once you catch a rock bass, prepare to put up a bit of a fight. Out of all the typical panfish, rock bass are known to pull fishing lines faster and harder than the rest; however, as long as you checked your line before going fishing, it should hold up, regardless of how strong the rock bass ends up being.
What is the difference between a rock bass, a smallmouth bass, and a largemouth bass?
First and foremost, all bass belong to a group of fish known as panfish. Although this form of taxonomy is not entirely scientific—the only qualification necessary to be a panfish is to be a fish that can fit inside a pan—it serves as a great rule of thumb by which to quickly assess whether your latest catch could possibly be a rock bass. Rock bass are also known as freshwater sunfish that have six spines running down their back.
The greatest visual difference between rock bass, smallmouth bass, and the largemouth bass is their body shape. While largemouth bass and smallmouth bass have torpedo-shaped bodies, rock bass are more laterally compressed and flatter. Another easy giveaway that you are dealing with a rock bass is its blood-red eyes. If your catch lacks these two characteristics, it is most likely not a rock bass. Largemouth bass are typically larger than both their rock and smallmouth cousins, with smallmouth bass being the smallest of the bunch.
Culinarily, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass have more meat on them; however, rock bass are known to have a richer flavor. This is because rock bass have less meat in their stomach regions than largemouth and smallmouth bass.
What’s the best way to cook rock bass?
After a long day out in the scorching summer sun, there is nothing better than coming home with your fishing buddies and cooking the fish you’ve caught. So, what’s the best way to cook any panfish? Pan-frying of course! In this recipe, you will need the following:
- ¼ tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 4 lemon wedges
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon butter
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- 4 skinned rock bass filets*
- 1 large egg white
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- ¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
* Please note that this is just recommended for these ingredients. For extra company or extra fish, you can go ahead and scale it up as needed (assuming you have a large enough pan).
Now that you have all of your ingredients out, let’s get to cooking!
- Begin heating your nonstick pan. Take out a gallon Ziplock bag and add in the flour, salt, and pepper. Combine the breadcrumbs and cornmeal in a small dish. Combine the water and egg in another dish.
- For each filet, place it in the Ziploc bag and shake to coat it, then place it in the egg white mixture, and lastly, add it to the breadcrumb mixture.
- Add vegetable oil and butter to the skillet, and heat them on medium until the butter melts. Then, cook each filet on each side for five minutes.
An entrée of rock bass pairs well with white rice, mixed greens, and lemon wedges. One serving size is approximately one filet, which has 250 calories.
What are the health benefits of eating rock bass?
There are a plethora of health benefits that come with eating rock bass. For starters, rock bass are filled with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, the benefits derived from regular consumption of fish are so great, the American Heart Association recommends eating it at least twice a week.
And on top of helping your heart function, omega-3 fatty acids can promote healthy brain function and reduce the risk of depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. Moreover, if you or your partner happens to be pregnant, omega-3 fatty acids can increase neural development during pregnancy.
Recap: Can You Eat Rock Bass Safely?
Rock bass not only can be eaten but should be! Their savory flavor profile, ubiquity in American lakes and creeks, and health benefits make them a must for any serious angler.
Rock bass are easy to prepare in the kitchen and make for an excellent fish fry that you can share with your family and fishing buddies. For more fish-related facts, visit [add website name here]