I kept the five bass I caught at Oconee in a tournament and filleted them when I got home. I know, I know - bass fishermen are supposed to let them all go, but I like fresh fish too much to put every one back. Those five bass produced 10 fillets and three meals for my wife and me.
In my opinion, there are very few meals that beat fried fish. When I fillet bass I end up with a skinless, boneless piece of meat. I wash them off and put them into plastic ziploc bags, dividing them into meal size packages. After the fish go into the bag I put about a tablespoon of salt in the bag and fill it with water, squeezing out any air and sealing them. Sitting in the refrigerator for a day or so in the salt water seems to improve the flavor.
When I am ready to cook the fish, I rinse the salt off and prepare them in different ways. For frying, I pat them dry, roll the fillets in corn meal and drop them into a "Frydaddy" deep fat cooker. They brown in about five minutes and are ready to eat. Fillets from a two pound bass are big enough that Linda and I eat about two each, along with cole slaw, French fries and a sliced tomato from the garden, this time of year.
A couple of nights after we fried the fish I wanted a little different meal. Linda and I split three of the fillets from the biggest bass, about three pounds each, and cooked them separately. Linda likes baked fish so she put hers in a baking dish, put dots of butter on it, covered it with a sliced onion and some garlic power and cooked it in the microwave for a few minutes.
I wanted something a little different so I took my fillets, put them in a small baking dish, covered them with Picante sauce and nuked them for five minutes. They were spicy and tasty with a baked potato and a salad. Cooking them in the microwave was very easy both ways we had done them that night - and very low fat. Linda and I had enough with 1 1/2 fillets each cooked this way.
We still had three big fillets left on Saturday night and we split them, too. Linda did hers the same way since she really likes them that way. I cooked mine in a way I discovered by accident several years ago. At lunch we had fried some deer burgers and I kept the grease in the frying pan. I got it very hot and put a fillet I had patted dry into the grease - with nothing on it.
When the fillets began to turn white around the edges, I turned them and poured a little Italian salad dressing on them. By the time they had cooked through, the dressing had flavored them and they were a nice brown on both sides. They taste a lot like grilled swordfish when cooked that way, and with a baked potato and salad makes an excellent meal.
Two other ways I like bass fillets are also easy. For a very good baked fish, I take some dry stuffing mix like Pepperidge Farms, crush it into a powder and coat the fillets with it. I put them into a baking dish, put a pat of butter on top of each and cook them in the microwave for about five minutes. They have a completely different taste than any other way I cook them, the stuffing mix gives them a very good flavor.
Another way to fry fillets is to make a batter of half-and-half flour and corn meal moistened with milk. Make a thick coating on the fillets and drop them into hot oil in deep fat fryer. The fillet inside the crust is moist and will put any fast food fish to shame.
There are lots of good ways to cook fish, these are just a few of my favorites. There are also several good fish stews and chowders that are great on cold winter days - or any day, for that matter. Let most of your bass go, but keep a few to eat. They make great meals!