The 9 Best Freshwater Fish To Eat

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Fish can make a really great meal if you know how to cook it well or where to find it made well. Most fish are thought to be healthy and nutritious.

When cooked right, they can also taste great. The really cool thing is that there are tons of different kinds of fish out there. 

There are both freshwater and saltwater fish varieties. If you do your research, you can probably identify hundreds of different species.

However, just because you can identify a type of fish or know the name, doesn’t always mean it’s really great to eat. 

What are the best freshwater fish to eat? Trout, catfish, and bass are probably some of the most well-known freshwater fish out there. However, there are several other types of fish that you can enjoy too. This is just the tip of the iceberg. How the fish is cooked could also make a difference on the taste. 

In this guide, we will share with you the 9 best freshwater fish to eat. There are several things to consider here in order to make a great meal.

You want to consider how it will taste, how you can prepare it, what you can make with it, and even the nutritional values to some extent. We will cover this for each of our options. 

Stick with us to learn about the 9 best freshwater fish to eat and more!

1. Trout

Trout is a popular freshwater fish that tastes great and is easy to make. The trick to great-tasting fish with trout is you really want it to be very fresh.

The freshness will be a definitive factor when it comes to flavor. These are really great if you are fishing or camping and can cook it up right there on a campfire. 

Of course, that’s not always feasible so as long as you can make sure it’s fresh, you’re in for a treat. There are different types of trout so the best ones are actually rainbow. However, brook and brown trout can be good as well. 

When it comes to trout, smoked trout is really great. However, it’s also very tasteful when broiled or fried. If you do fry it, just be sure to cut it into smaller pieces.

When you are ready to serve trout, we recommend some long-grain wild rice and maybe a side of steamed or roasted veggies. 

Most people prefer to cook trout with garlic, lemon, butter, and some fresh herbs. This really makes for great flavor no matter which type of trout you ended up with. 

2. Salmon

Salmon is a popular choice. The reason for that is salmon can be made in any number of ways and it is typically easy to find. People like fresh salmon but also enjoy things like salmon patties.

There is a lot you can enjoy here. Chances are, your grocery store has more than one option when it comes to salmon as well. 

Much like trout, salmon is really great with butter and a lot of fresh herbs. Add some garlic or lemon and you have the perfect meal

Salmon can be fried, broiled, baked, or roasted. Now, it’s even great in the air fryer. This gives you variety with a simple fish. It’s known to be nutritious and rich in Omega-3.

It does have a slightly higher fat content but that actually leads to richer flavor. The taste of salmon is mild so it really doesn’t have a major fishy effect, which is nice. 

What you will find is that salmon is easy to make and there are several different options. That’s why it’s one of the best freshwater fish choices out there.

You can serve it with rice or veggies of any kind. It might even be good with some creamy pasta.

3. Bluegill

Bluegill is one fish that some people are intimidated by because they just don’t see or hear about it as much. However, if bluegill is caught in the right type of environment it can be very good. Bluegill has a reputation for being inconsistent. 

That’s because it can taste different depending on where it is caught. Bluegill caught from cool water locations is more likely to be tender and also have a slightly sweet flavor.

This is the best place to enjoy it from. If it is caught elsewhere, it might not be as good or have that slight sweetness. 

What’s great about bluegill is that it really doesn’t taste fishy or dirty (when caught in a cool, clean location). The meat is tender.

These are small fish but a little bit goes a long way. Most people prefer bluegill either fried or filleted. This is the best way to enhance the flavor. 

Bluegill can also be used for more formal meals. Try using simple salt, pepper, lemon, and maybe even a touch of parmesan and bread crumbs on bluegill. It’s delicious like this! A quick butter sauce with a hint of spice pairs nicely too. 

As far as choosing your sides to serve with bluegill, the most popular choices include roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, baked beans, salad, coleslaw, or grits. 

4. Catfish

If you’ve ever been to a big fish fry, you’ve probably had catfish. And if you haven’t ever had catfish now is the time to give it a try.

This is a popular freshwater fish for people who like to catch their own fish. You can purchase it from grocers and butchers as well but it is pretty easy to catch. 

This is a pretty popular fish. They can get really large in some areas. We will tell you that for the purpose of cooking, the really large ones can sometimes have a very strong flavor.

You’re better with a small to medium size when it comes to flavor, particularly if you are concerned about fishy flavors. 

If you use the small to medium-sized catfish, the flavor is mild but there will be some fishiness to it. The best way to enjoy catfish is to fry it.

You will want to season the meat slightly and coat it in a fish fry batter. Then fry it up and you really can’t go wrong. 

While that’s the most popular option, there are other ways to enjoy catfish as well. Some people also like to grill, char, or bake catfish. Just be sure to season it generously for really great flavor. 

You can serve catfish with any number of things. It goes well with corn on the cob, coleslaw, salad, French fries, and veggies like green beans. You can pair it with whatever you like but these are common choices you can depend on. 

Catfish can also be really great with some Cajun seasoning if you want to mix it up a bit. 

5. Bass

When it comes to freshwater fish, you will find that bass is another really popular choice. It’s versatile and it’s pretty easy to cook up.

In most cases, the flavor of bass is pretty mild so it’s easy to cook it just about any way that you want to and still end up with a great meal. 

Much like bluegill, bass is sometimes known to have just a hint of sweetness to their flavor. They are not extremely fishy but you will get some fishy flavor.

If you want to cook bass, you can plan on making it in many different ways. Try searing, grilling, frying, or baking. 

The way that you decide to cook it will most likely affect how you season it and what you serve it with. For example, with baked bass, you will probably use a buttery sauce.

This works well with green vegetables or rice. Serve it with a slice of bread or a roll for a perfect meal. 

If you fry bass, you will more likely want something like coleslaw or corn on the cob as your side. You can add a salad and rolls to bring it all together. This fish is very versatile. 

Bass can be pretty rich in flavor. They are a fatty fish so this contributes to the richness. However, they are not overly fishy.

Because of this, you can usually just season with things like garlic, salt, pepper, and maybe some lemon and herbs too. 

6. Walleye

Walleye is more popular near bay areas in the northern part of the US. It’s also popular in Canada. The reason for this popularity is simply because that is where it can be caught fresh.

Walleye is pretty mild. Most people compare it to something like trout or bass but it’s less fishy even than those. 

Walleye are interesting. You do have to remove some of their insides but many people choose to cook them whole. You just need to understand how best to prepare them and cook them for this.

You can even stuff the inside with some herbs or veggies. You can also fillet walleye so don’t be scared off by the idea of needing to cook it whole. 

Walleye is usually served with tartar sauce. It’s very popular for grilling and broiling but it also works well for fried fish. You just need some great fish fry batter for that purpose.

If you choose to grill or broil, we recommend using herbs like rosemary and parsley. You can also add some lemon and butter for the perfect flavor combination. 

Serve walleye with greens, veggies, or a tasteful salad. You can also try roasted or mashed potatoes for something different as well. 

7. Freshwater Drum

If you’re heading to a fishing market and want to know the best option there, look for freshwater drum.

These are actually one of the most popular options from fishing markets. You can’t go wrong with a freshwater drum and they taste really great. 

The freshwater drum is prone to cooler waters so they may be harder to find in warm climates or southern states.

However, if you live to the north or east, they are very common here. Freshwater drums have very little fat but still have a lot of flavor and provide tender meat

This type of freshwater fish is popular for searing and grilling. If you’re a fisherman, you will find they are very easy to fillet and prep.

If you purchase freshwater drum, be sure to keep it very cold until you’re ready to prepare it. This will preserve the flavors. 

Most people prefer to either grill or broil this fish but it can be good for frying as well. You will find it doesn’t need much. Use fresh herbs, some salt, pepper, garlic, and any type of citrus that you like.

Freshwater drum can also be really great with a glaze. Popular glazes include spicy tomato glazes or even a wine-based sauce. 

Serve freshwater drum with pasta, veggies, salad, or potatoes for the best combination. 

8. Crappie

If you’re from the south, you are familiar with crappie already. This fish is a common type of fish for people who just enjoy time fishing at their nearest lake, pond, or river. They are common for sport fishing and really easy to catch. 

Some casual fishermen actually throw crappie back because they just don’t always get very big.

However, if you’re open to trying something new, they can taste pretty good. They do have a bit of fishy flavor to them but nothing overwhelming. 

Crappie are also rich in Omega-3s so they are nutritious. The most common way to prepare crappie is to fillet it. From there you can enjoy a fish fry or even try grilling or baking.

Outside of frying, grilling, and baking, some people turn these into fish pancakes. They are similar to crab cakes but use fish instead.

Season generously and if you really want to spice it up, crappie can be great with Cajun flavors added to the mix. 

You can serve crappie with anything you want. Salad, potatoes, vegetables, coleslaw, and even pasta all pair great.

9. Pike

Finally, another freshwater fish to add to your bucket list is pike. These are more common in Northern states and areas because they like cool water.

You should be prepared for a slightly fishier flavor than most of the other fish we’ve mentioned here. 

However, most people combat the fishiness with some hearty seasoning and unique recipes. If you like seafood, you will appreciate the fishy flavor.

You can appreciate rich tastes and flaky meat so it’s pretty versatile when it comes to preparing pike. 

The most common way to prepare pike is baking. You can also grill or broil this meat and have pretty great results. Pike is also known for being mixed into other seafood dishes, like a seafood broil or even a pasta dish. 

Up Next: 7 Quietest Microwaves

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *