Best Tasting Freshwater Fish to Eat (To Put on Your Catch List)

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One of the top concerns when fishing for food is its taste. With a lot of fish species for consumption, it’s hard to tell which fish is the best tasting because all have unique tastes. Your preference may just vary depending on what country you’re in. 

Fish is a staple food. Everybody eats it unless one’s allergic to seafood. The fish type you can catch depends on location and geographical conditions.

You can further enhance the taste of the fish depending on how you’re going to cook it. Since a wide selection of fish can be eaten, we’ve prepared a list of the best freshwater fish to eat and serve on the table.

1. Bluegill 

Bluegill Fishing Tips Art
Go catch some bluegills! Source

As the name implies, this fish has a bluegill plate. This fish type is one of the go-to fishes that young anglers catch because it doesn’t get big that much, and its weight rarely reaches 1 pound.

Catching bluegills in clean and cool waters to have an enhanced sweet taste and tender meat. It has flaky, white meat that’s often filleted or fried.

The bluegill is the top choice for cooking among the sunfish family because it doesn’t have a fishy taste suitable for home or formal dinners.

It feeds on aquatic animals and insects only, so you can be sure that it doesn’t contain high levels of harmful pollutants. 

Here’s how to cook bluegill.

2. Crappie

best crappie lures
Crappie! Source: Patrick Lewis

This freshwater fish is a common catch whether you’re a novice angler. Similar to the bluegills, crappie has white meat and a sweet taste that’s soft to chew. It also has a bigger size that’s easy to clean and made into different kinds of recipes.

They used to be commercialized in the market for sale, but it can’t be avoided that some crappies come from unregulated water that’s contaminated. It’s best to catch them yourself to ensure that it’s clean.

Here’s how to clean and cook crappie.

3. Catfish

how to fillet catfish
Take your time filleting to get the most meat from the bones.

If you’re from Asia, Europe, Africa, or North America, you would know that catfish is one of the freshwater fish that you can commonly see in the market. It comes in different kinds of species of various sizes.

It can be one of the healthy choices of fish because it’s low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12. It can be grilled, fried, baked, or broiled. 

Its taste will depend on the time of year it’s caught. During the summer season, they used to stay in muddy ponds or rivers to avoid the heat; that’s why they tend to have a pronounced muddy taste.

It’s best to let it stay in tank water for a couple of days before cooking to avoid the muddy aftertaste.

4. Trout

best trout lures
brown trout. Source: helti

The brook, brown, and rainbow trout ate the tastiest trout, especially if they come from indoor circulating tanks. These trouts have a pink or orange color.

It has an excellent amount of omega-3 fatty acids, B6, B12, Potassium, Thiamin, and Selenium. Since it has low levels of mercury, it can be served regularly. 

The fresher the trout, the richer the taste is. However, it’s considered the bonniest fish. That’s why you need to take time to clean it up, but it’s worth it because it can be baked, smoked, broiled, and fried.

You would know that trout is fresh if it doesn’t have a fishy or ammonia-like odor.

Here’s how to fillet a trout.

5. Freshwater Drum

Freshwater drum or sheepshead has a firm and meaty texture that favors those who don’t want a flaky texture. It only has a few pin bones that can be removed easily.

It can be fillet, grilled, smoked, baked, and fried. For a large-size harvest, you can make fish stew or chowder.

Its flesh easily spoils, so you need to have a bucket with ice ready when you catch it. This is perfect for those who are into the keto diet because it’s carb-free and enriched with healthy fats. Young freshwater drums tend to have a milder and sweeter taste. 

6. Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass

when do bass spawn
Largemouth bass fish. Source: Canva Pro

Bass fish have white meat making it healthy that’s rich in protein. It has a fishy taste and smell, but when it’s cleaned and cooked properly, it can be minimized. Smallmouth bass has a more favorable flavor compared to largemouth bass.

According to experts, the bass flavor greatly depends on the water quality where it’s caught if it’s from a clean and unpolluted body of water, except that it has a sweet and fresh taste.

Due to its size, it can be filleted, but it can also be grilled, baked, or fried. Cooking bass sometimes needs to have a skilled hand.

You don’t want to eat uncleaned or overcooked fish. This white meat compliments seasoning mixes and spices.

Source: Canva Pro

7. White Bass

White bass has a strong fishy taste that may not be favorable to all. To get rid of it, it’s usually soaked in clean water for a few hours and cleaning it properly before cooking.

Another hack to get rid of the fishy taste is to soak it in water with a baking soda mixture. 

It’s considered an oily fish that has a sweet and buttery taste. There are two types of white bass meat: the white meat on the belly, tail, and back, and the red meat in the inner rib meat. 

8. Salmon

Source: Canva Pro

This is a common freshwater fish that you can regularly see in the market. Aside from being one of the best-tasting freshwater fish, it’s a favorite oily fish because it’s rich in vitamins and minerals.

It’s enriched with omega-three fatty acids, Vitamin D, and high protein. It comes in orange, red, or white meat. It has a soft texture that even the kids will enjoy. 

One of the trendy ways how to prepare salmon is by eating it raw. However, it may contain impurities like bacteria and parasites if it’s not prepared properly.

It’s best to eat it raw if it’s newly caught. Other ways of preparing it include stewing, frying, and grilling.

9. Walleye

best walleye jigging rod

Some say that walleye tastes like chicken of the sea. This freshwater fish is popular among many for its delicate flavor. Its pinkish-white flesh is firm yet tender and flaky. Walleye meat is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a number of dishes.

Listen to more cooking tips on the Cast & Spear Podcast

Final Thoughts

If you would go to different places, they may have their own version of the best-tasting freshwater fish to eat.

In choosing a fish to catch for consumption, it’s important to focus on how it tastes and make sure that it also has nutritional benefits to nourish the body.

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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Best Tasting Freshwater Fish to Eat (To Put on Your Catch List)

One of the top concerns when fishing for food is its taste. With a lot of fish species for consumption, it’s hard to tell which fish is the best tasting because all have unique tastes. Your preference may just vary depending on what country you’re in.  Fish is a staple food. Everybody eats it unless