Rock Bass, sometimes called red-eye or goggle-eye, tend to fly under the radar in the world of Panfish (or more specifically, sunfish).
While black crappie and yellow perch often compete for the title of best-tasting panfish…what about rock bass?
Are rock bass good to eat? What do they taste like? How do you prepare them for a delicious meal?
Keep reading…You may be surprised!
Are Rock Bass Good To Eat?
Rock bass are good to eat, with a taste and texture similar to other panfish. If you like the taste of bluegill, you’ll like the taste of rock bass.
At almost any lake or reservoir in the Northeast and Midwestern states, you’ll find one guy at the boat ramp proclaiming “Yall can keep the walleye, more rock bass for me!”
Rock bass are also very simple to prepare, and versatile enough to cook to your liking.
What Do Rock Bass Taste Like?
There is a common misconception that rock bass have strong flavored red meat, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Rock Bass meat is mild, tender, and flaky, without a strong fishy flavor.
The fillets are white, with a subtle grey tint and medium consistency (not as firm as a crappie).
The taste of rock bass is very similar to other members of the sunfish family, like bluegills or crappie, but with a little more flavor. Many fishermen who eat them consider them the best tasting of all the sunfish.
Because rock bass tend to prefer clear, moving water (such as creeks in the ozarks), getting a muddy taste from the environment is not a concern most of the time.
Anglers often confuse Warmouth for Rockbass…but they are two distinct species of fish, and usually prefer different habitats.
Are Rock Bass Safe To Eat?
As is true with any fish you plan to eat, it’s important to know your body of water and what problems it might have.
Rock bass are safe to eat as long as you take them from non-polluted water. If the water is clean, the fish is safe.
While some rock bass may have parasites like worms, these are easy to spot when you’re cleaning the fish and aren’t dangerous, as long as you cook them thoroughly.
Is Rock Bass Good For You?
Rock bass are a very healthy fish to eat. An average-sized fillet has about 150 calories, no carbohydrates, and up to 28 grams of protein.
Rock bass are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are well known as a booster for heart health and general well-being. They are packed with vitamins and minerals and are a particularly good source of magnesium.
As long as you use healthy cooking methods, the rock bass will be great for your health!
How To Prepare Rock Bass
Rock bass are an easy fish to get from the water to the table, without any complicated special procedures after catching or during the cleaning.
Unlike some other fish, there is no need to bleed it immediately, remove a bloodline, or do anything special when you’re cleaning it.
The one complaint some people make about rock bass is that the meat can sometimes be a little mushy.
Many rock bass fishermen think that rock bass caught in cold water or under the ice have a better flavor and a firmer consistency than ones caught in warm water or during the summer.
Because of this, some people like to throw their catch right into a cooler with ice (which I recommend no matter what time of year it is).
One thing to keep in mind is that since rock bass have such big heads in proportion to their bodies, you’re going to get less meat from a rock bass than you would from a similar-sized perch, bluegill, or other fish.
Fortunately, there is usually no problem catching a bunch of them since bag limits are usually very generous.
The meat that’s inside the ribs isn’t very good, so what you want is to make a fillet out of the meat that’s on top of the ribs, down the tail and all the way up to the dorsal fins.
First, rinse off and gut the fish. Then, with your fillet knife, make a cut right behind the gill plate.
Move the knife back to the tail from there, moving slightly shallower in the rib area to pass over the ribs and cut all the way back to the tail.
You now have a chunk of meat with the skin still attached. Flip this over so the skin is down. At the tail end, cut down until the knife is touching the skin, then turn it and use the knife to peel the skin off the meat.
It should peel away very easily. Now you have your fillet!
Do a quick visual inspection of the fillet and pick out any bones that may have come along.
Once you have filleted all your rock bass, take the fillets, put them in a bowl, and add the coldest water you can. Some people even add some ice cubes. This both cleans the fillets and helps to firm the texture of the meat.
A good trick is to add some sea salt to the cold water. This creates a brine that helps to clean out any slime or other things that might be clinging to the fillet that would affect the flavor.
Once you’ve added the salt, stir the fillets around in the water for a little bit.
Let the fillets sit and soak in the brine or water for ten or fifteen minutes, then rinse them with fresh, cold water. Now, you’ll have very clean, very white fillets that are ready to cook.
How To Cook Rock Bass
Rock bass are also easy to cook and the meat works for a wide variety of recipes.
Because it has a relatively mild flavor, you don’t need to resort to any of the techniques used to deal with fishy flavors, like milk soaks or large amounts of lemon juice.
The fillets can be chopped up and put in soups, stews, or chowders. It can be marinated and grilled or pan-fried.
Since you’re likely to have a large number of small fillets, rock bass is absolutely perfect for battering and deep frying.
Simply dip the fillets in flour, egg, Italian bread crumbs, crushed crackers, Panko crumbs, or almost anything else you can think of.
After that, all you have to do is throw them in some hot oil for a few minutes and you have dinner.
They can also be eaten with any kind of sauce or flavorings you prefer, from wing sauce to soy sauce and anything in between. Deep-fried rock bass fillets are also the perfect size for fish tacos.
Thanks for reading…Now I’m hungry!
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