Texas takes great pride in having great locations for bass fishing. And if you like fishing in the Texas Gulf Coast especially in and around the inland marshes here, you’ve probably caught, cooked, and eaten bass. And if you’ve been in Texas long enough and have been around cooked bass for years, chances are you are familiar with Bass in a Bag. It is how it sounds: a bag filled with fried bass fillet in batter, passed around by family or friends snacking and relaxing by the backyard. This very casual eating is tradition, especially among Texans who love eating bass, and there are many of them here in the Lone Star state.
- The biggest largemouth bass caught in Texas waters weighed in at 18.18 lbs. It was caught in Lake Fork in East Texas, 90 miles east of Dallas. The lake is popular for its Big Bass Fishing.
- In Texas, the most sought-after fish is the largemouth bass, besting other choices like striped bass, white bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, and white crappie.
- The Middle English word bars (which means ‘perch’) is where the modern-day term bass referring to fish came from. Bass belongs to the order Perciformes, or perch-like fishes.
- The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department pointed out that the average lifespan of largemouth bass is 16 years. Which bass can live longer? Northern largemouth bass has a longer life span compared to the Florida strain.
Bass Buying Guide
The first thing to know when buying bass is that there are a lot of them and they could vary slightly and greatly in appearance, which might make you suspicious if you are looking at a bass when you are used to a particular species or type only. Make a quick research on what type of bass is commonly found in your area or market and expect to see these there.
There are many types and species of bass; black basses (Micropterus haiaka or Choctaw bass, M. treculii or Guadalupe bass), temperate basses, (Dicentrarchus labrax or European seabass, M. chrysops or white bass), Asian seabasses (Lateolabrax japonicus or the Japanese seabass, L. latus or the Blackfin seabass), Australian bass (Macquaria novemaculeata), black sea bass (Centropristis striata), Chilean sea bass (Dissostichus eleginoides), giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas), butterfly peacock bass (Cichla ocellaris), etc. But the ones that are popular in North America are largemouth (M. salmoides), smallmouth (M. dolomieu), and spotted bass (M. punctulatus).
It is always best to buy fresh bass in the market. When buying fresh bass in the market, you can use these tips to see if they are fresh. Often, you can actually touch fish sold in the market. Gently press it. If it remains indented after you press it, the fish is not fresh. It should have that sea breeze scent and not the stinky fishy smell that suggests that the fish is not fresh. If the eyes of the fish are sunken, or cloudy, or appear indented, it is highly likely that it is not fresh because fresh bass has clear eyes that appear bulging.
You can also find frozen bass fillets in the frozen section of the supermarket or grocery. Your last option is to order online for next day, same day, or set date delivery.
Bass Production & Farming in Texas
Bass was not commercially-produced until the late 1980s. By 2018, the production of bass was at 180,000 tonnes.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department annually produces more than 7.5 million bass (5.8 million striped bass and hybrid striped bass) for stocking into Texas reservoirs, according to Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, which produces 3 to 4 million Florida largemouth bass fingerlings annually, has one of five Texas fish hatcheries operated by the state.
Bass is found in many rivers and lakes in Texas. Here, bass begins spawning when the water temperature is around 60°F, as early as February up to May. Two subspecies of largemouth bass are common in Texas: Micropterus salmoides salmoides and Micropterus salmoides floridanus.
Pollution and drought are the two biggest threats to the largemouth bass population, in Texas as well as in other parts of the world.
Bass fishing in Texas is an important industry that contributes to Texas’ annual economy – $1.49 billion according to Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.
There are many fish farms in Texas that grow and breed bass, and here are some of them: Tyler Fish Farm, located in Ben Wheeler, Texas, has Certified Pure Florida Largemouth Bass, while Hybrid Striped Bass are available in limited supply from November through March. Overton Fisheries, which is located in Buffalo, Texas, has Lone Star Legacy Bass and largemouth bass. Possum Kingdom Fish Hatchery, located in Graford, Texas, has striped bass, smallmouth bass, and Hybrid Striped Bass. Henneke Fish Hatchery, in Hallettsville, Texas, has largemouth and smallmouth bass. Southwest Aquatic Services, located in Altair, Texas, has great largemouth bass genetics, specifically Florida and Florida (X) Northern (“hybrid”) subspecies. They also offer offspring from female Florida bass, ideal for private lake owners.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals
Growing bass does not require the use of any synthetic or man-made chemicals. This, however, does not mean that bass is free from potentially dangerous chemicals.
There is bass fished out of certain locations that contain chemicals known as PFAS like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). For example, striped bass fished from Cape Fear River in North Carolina could be loaded with PFAS, a chemical that is typically found in items like microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, waterproof clothing, dental floss, nonstick cookware, etc.
Bass contains mercury. Children and pregnant women should eat bass in moderation.
Bass is found in many parts of the world. You can find sea bass in the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, and Africa’s west coast. Its cousin the American striped bass is a coastal fish often found in estuaries. The largemouth bass is found in Atlantic drainages from North Carolina to Florida and into northern Mexico, and anywhere that is vegetated, like lakes, pool backwater, creeks, rivers, ponds, and swamps. The giant sea bass is native to the coast of Mexico and California.
Countries like Greece and Turkey are known for their production of bass.
If you are in Texas and you want to fish for bass, consider these locations: Lake Fork, Lake Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Falcon Lake, Toledo Bend Reservoir, Lake Conroe, Lake London B. Johnson, Lake Ray Roberts, Lake Amistad, Choke Cayon Reservoir, Lake Alan Henry, Lake Texoma, and Lake O’ the Pines.
Bass (fillet) is sold in the frozen section of the supermarket or grocery. The packaging is a vacuum-sealed plastic pack. Packaging for fillet bass should contain important consumer information like the name of the manufacturer, expiration date, nutritional information, ingredients, etc. Packaging should be free from damage that could affect the quality of the bass fillet.
Bass is a great food to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Fried bass is eaten as a snack, the same way you would eat chips. You can eat bass with vegetables, with dips or sauces, or along with many different kinds of side dishes.
Some restrictions regarding eating bass include mercury ingestion which is not ideal for children and pregnant women. If you also have an allergy to white fish, you should not eat bass.
Store uncooked bass in the freezer. Wash the bass clean and make sure to remove all the organs, leaving only the meat. Pat it dry with a paper towel and put it inside a zip lock bag, freezer bag, or freezer-safe food container. You can keep bass in the freezer for 3 months. You can also put it in the refrigerator but it will only keep for 2 to 4 days. Store it there for longer than that and it will start to go bad because the temperature is not cold enough to keep the fish in good quality.
Texans love cooking with bass, which explains why there are many recipes you can find online like the Barbecued Texas Striped Bass with tamarind-honey glaze, jalapenos, and cheddar polenta cake, Texas Bass in a Bag, and Texas Fried Sea Bass.
Use bass when making fish tacos. Bass is great baked, fried, steamed, sauteed, or grilled. You can also use bass if you are making soups and stews.
Bass contains calories, selenium, essential omega-3 fatty acids, saturated fat, protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamins B-12, vitamin B-6, and vitamin C.