When you are in a survival situation, pretty much anything goes if you are going to survive. That means you’ll have to do what is necessary to take care of the necessities of life.
One of the most important, if not the most pressing, is food. And while nature provides us with a wide range of edible animals, some are more desirable than others.
Some are nutritious, some are tasty and some are both. A few can kill you if you eat them.
One of nature’s most bountiful foods comes from beneath the water in the form of fish, and among them is the humble rock bass. So, can you eat rock bass for survival?
Yes. Rock bass are a ubiquitous game fish in many states, and have enough meat on them to be worth consuming. Rock fish are generally delicious and packed with nutrients, making them a great survival food option if you can catch them.
Plenty of anglers have been hoping for small- or largemouth bass only to be disappointed when pulling one of their lesser “cousins” from the water. And while these little sunfish might not make for great sport they do make for great eating.
Learn more about eating them in a survival situation below!
Where Can Rock Bass Be Found?
The rock bass is considered a truly ubiquitous species in most of its range, and populations are abundant thanks to their successful survival and reproductive strategies.
Originating from the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, it is found throughout the eastern half of North America, from the mid-Mississippi River basin in Missouri and Arkansas to New York, and most places in between, including Kentucky and Tennessee all the down through Georgia to Florida in the south.
They are found as far north on the continent as Québec and Saskatchewan, Canada.
Anywhere you have warm to cool rocky, clear freshwater with plenty of vegetation you’ll have rock bass.
These spunky fish are also seemingly drawn to human activity, commonly being found schooling in small groups near docks, launches and other sites where some fish fear to go.
In short, these little guys are perfect as survival fare anywhere you happen to be in their range so long as the habitat supports them. And, of course, if you have the skills and tools to catch them.
What are Other Names for Rock Bass?
Rock bass have many colloquial and local names. To avoid missing out, make sure you keep your eyes and ears perked for any mention of red eye, black perch, goggle-eye and rock perch. Different names, same fish!
Rock Bass Nutritional Info
Rock bass, like most fish, is quite nutritious. Packed with protein, vitamins, minerals and important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, it might as well be a multi-vitamin on the fin, so to say!
A single 4.5 oz fillet of rock bass provides around 250 calories, 28 grams of protein and a big boost of omega-3 fatty acids, along with vitamin A, iron and ample amounts of vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus.
Does Rock Bass Taste Good?
Definitely! Rock bass is widely regarded as good eating, with a great texture and savory flavor comparable to other fish like crappie and bluegills.
The meat is light, sweet and flaky, making it a great choice for any number of recipes. And with its classic taste, rock bass can be prepared in a variety of ways without being overwhelmed by seasonings or spices.
No matter what ingredients you are fortunate enough to have on hand, you can probably use them to good effect sprucing up your rock bass.
Is it Safe to Eat Rock Bass Raw?
No! In what is sure to be an outrage to all you sushi lovers out there, you definitely should not eat raw rock bass if you have any other choice.
All raw animal flesh, including that of fish like our rock bass here, can contain parasites and other potentially harmful bacteria that could make you sick. Perhaps terribly sick.
Among the germs that rock bass and other fish are known to carry, the one you should most be concerned with is Vibrio vulnificus.
That’s a bacteria found in brackish waters that can cause some serious infections and even death if infected.
The germ leads to acute gastroenteritis, or vomiting and diarrhea, in healthy people, and potentially septic shock and necrotizing lesions. Good grief!
Does not sound like a good time, does it? To avoid this hateful pestilence and more make it a point to cook your rock bass and all other fish to minimum internal temperatures of 165 degrees F. That will reliably kill these germs, and save you from a gruesome fate.
Can You Eat Rock Bass Skin?
Yes, but the scales can make for unpleasant dining. Some people don’t mind them when eating a whole roasted fish, but generally you’ll want to scale and clean the rock bass before eating it.
Can You Eat Rock Bass Fins?
No. The fins are sharp and inedible, and pose a serious choking hazard. Remove and discard, or eat around them if you are cooking a whole fish.
Are Rock Bass Eggs Okay to Eat?
Yes, assuming you can find them somehow. Rock bass spawn late in the season, and since they are quite small you may need to look close and careful.
If you manage to get your hands on some of these eggs, then sure, go ahead and eat them. Just make sure they’re cooked through before consuming as with any other fish.
You can toss them in the pan to make a sort of scramble alongside you rock bass filet.
Should You Eat Rock Bass Bones?
No. Fish bones are notorious for choking people when inadvertently swallowed. I would hate to see what would happen if someone ate a bunch of them voluntarily.
However, like the bones of all bony fish, your rock bass’ bones can provide you with some good nutrition thanks to the marrow they contain.
To access this deliciousness, simply crack open the bones and carefully scrape out the marrow before lightly cooking it, or else boil the bones to steep it out into a highly nutritious broth that is perfect as the basis of a soup or stew.
Bone marrow is chock full of nutrients like amino acids, vitamins and minerals so it’s definitely worth the effort to get at, especially in a survival scenario.
Just make sure you discard the hard, inedible part and stick to eating the marrow from the bones, only!
How About Rock Bass Organs?
As horrendous as it sounds to most folks, fish guts are typically edible. When it comes to rock bass, the heart, liver and head all make for more edible protein and nutrients.
Like the meat, they should be cooked first. One good tip to make the internal organs more palatable is to cook them gently but thoroughly away from intense direct heat. That will make them very tough!
The stomach and intestines are edible, but only after an intense purging and cleaning. Most seasoned cooks recommend an intensive, multi-day brine before eating either, so these might be off the menu in your situation.
Also, inspect both very, very carefully: these are natural hiding places for various parasites that would be all too eager to infest you just the same.
As always, if there are any obvious signs of disease or strange appearance to the organs you should discard them and the fish entirely. There will be others!
Be Extra Cautious Eating Rock Bass Caught from Stagnant Water
Lastly, you must be extra cautious when assessing any rock bas, or any other fish, hauled out of particularly contaminated or stagnant water.
Fish caught from these sources are highly likely to be carrying contagious diseases or parasites, and may even contain toxic levels of chemical contamination in their flesh.
If possible, avoid them altogether or else inspect the fish very carefully before committing to cooking and eating.
This is especially true if you are fishing in an area with a history of industrial waste dumping or other environmental problems. In these cases it’s always best to be safe and fish somewhere else!
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.