How to Fillet Bass

how to fillet bass

Bass fillets are versatile and are best to have fried, smoked, or any other way. All we need to enjoy delicious fresh bass fillets is to know how to fillet bass. And once you know how to fillet a bass fish, you will be filleting white bass to enjoy it every now and then.

Bass has many other species, including largemouth, striped, and white bass, each having a different size and unique flavor. Don’t even worry about searching for different methods for how to fillet a largemouth bass or sea bass because I am here to ease it. Let me tell you, how? 

How to Fillet a Smallmouth Bass? 

Filleting bass becomes hectic when people use different methods for each type of bass. But I will give you a neutral method to answer all your questions related to how to fillet black sea bass/how to fillet white bass or any other bass. Let’s get going, 

Step 1: Cut behind gills

Cut behind bass gills

Keeping a 45o angle of your sharp-edged fillet knife, cut deep behind the gills/head.

Step 2: Make a cut from the top to the tail

Make a cut from the top to the tail

With the tip of the knife, make a shallow incision on the top. Passing the knife by the dorsal fin and moving towards the tail.

Step 3: Separate the fillet from the ribs

Separate the fillet from the ribs

Pull the fillet upwards slightly through the cut to see the ribs. Start cutting the meat exactly behind the ribs using small blade strokes. Follow the ribs and separate the fillet from it. 

Step 4: Cut towards the tail

Cut towards the tail of bass fish

Keep cutting towards the tail and leave a small part of the fillet attached to the tail.

Step 5: Remove skin

Remove skin of bass fish

Flip the fillet opposite through its small part attached to the tail. Applying a little downward pressure, slide the knife from the tail towards the other end of the fillet. Keep the blade edge as close to the skin as possible and remove the fillet from the skin. 

Step 6: Remove pin bones

Remove pin bones of bass

Lay the fillet and touch the center of the fillet to feel the bones. Cut on both the sides of small bones and remove them, making a thin incision in the meat.

Step 7: Repeat on the other side 

Here, you got two beautiful boneless bass fillets.

Here you can watch the same method of filleting bass.

YouTube video

How to Fillet Striped Bass? 

Now, you know a detailed method of how to fillet sea bass/smallmouth bass. But there is one step we don’t need while filleting smallmouth bass, but for white bass, largemouth, and stripers. 

Larger bass like striped and largemouth bass have a layer of dark meat on the outer side of the fillet. This dark meat creates a strong fishy taste which might ruin the bass fillet recipes. So, when filleting largemouth bass or stripers, you need to follow one more step: remove the dark-colored meat. 

How to Fillet Striped Bass? 

There are two ways you can remove the dark meat when filleting striped bass, 

Before Skinning Fillet 

When removing the skin, we usually keep our knife as close to the skin as possible. In this case, don’t slide the knife side by side with the skin and leave a thin layer of meat with the skin. This way, you will easily remove the dark meat. 

Related Guide: Best Fillet Knife For Saltwater Fish

After Skinning Fillet 

After skinning the bass fillet, remove the dark meat by trimming it off the white meat. And try not to waste any extra tasty meat out there.

And here as well how it’s actually done.

YouTube video

How to Cook Black Sea Bass Fillet? 

There are countless bass fillet recipes that you can have and enjoy, but if you’re a fish fry lover like me. I’ll tell you the correct way to achieve the best taste of fried bass fillets. Let’s dig into the recipe, 


Bass fillets (skinless/skin-on) 2
Sea saltTo taste
Black pepperTo taste
Butter2 tbsp. 

How to Fry Bass Fillet? 

  1. Score (3 cuts each) bass fillets with a sharp knife. 
  2. Now, pat-dry the fillets.
  3. Season the fillets with black pepper and sea salt and spread them evenly with your fingers. 
  4. Heat the pan on medium-high heat. Add butter and let it melt. 
  5. Place the fillets in the frying pan with the skin side on the pan (if you’re using fillets with skin). 
  6. Let it fry for at least 2-3 minutes on each side. 
  7. The bass fillets are ready to plate. 
how to cook bass fillet

You can also serve them with grilled veggies and your favorite sauce. Here you can watch the recipe for pan-fried bass with a delicious sauce. 

YouTube video


Q1: How to fillet a bass with an electric knife? 

Filleting sea bass with an electric knife is not any different from filleting with a manual knife. You can use the steps above to fillet bass with an electric knife. However, we suggest you be extremely careful and focused when using a sharp electric filleting knife. And also, make sure to keep your finger always ready to push the trigger button in any emergency. 

Q2: How to clean bass fish?

After descaling bass, cut a shallow incision from the belly to the anal opening. Now using a spoon or your hand (wearing gloves), remove all the guts and discard them. Now wash the bass with running tap water, and you’re done. You can watch a detailed method of cleaning bass:

YouTube video


Bass fillets are quite expensive when you buy them from the market. But if you fish bass on your own and know how to fillet bass, it’s a win-win. Use the above filleting method to fillet any bass species, cook it with your favorite recipe, and enjoy the meal.

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