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11 Best Tasting Freshwater Fish in the World

Last Updated: 01.12.23

Not eating enough fish? Unfortunately, many people consume much less than the recommended amount. Eating fish each week could reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, boost your bones and improve your memory.

Therefore, it represents an important protein source that can be added to your diet without too much effort. You won’t need excellent fishing tackle or the most effective sonar system to be able to catch your own dinner. Bought, caught or ordered, fish can replace less healthy foods in your diet and provide a reliable source of protein and omega-3 for those looking to lose some pounds, and not only.

Best tasting freshwater fish

First of all, we must understand what gives fish its distinctive taste and flavor in order to be able to judge which species could taste better. Of course, the way of cooking fish drastically changes its taste but other factors are involved, too: the temperature, the environment, the region, our diet or our physiology make the fish different from each other, and from other types of meat.

Fish stores fat along its whole body and its muscles are segmented to facilitate movement. That explains why white fish tends to be less strongly flavored than meatier fishes.

Fish odor is given by a compound called trimethylamine while its taste is determined by oxidized fatty acids and amino acids. Fresh fish does not have a sour smell or a soft texture. The sour smell can tell us that bacteria and fish enzymes started breaking down to trimethylamine, and in consequence, the fish is not fresh.

Trimethylamine and amino acids such as glycine and glutamate offer the sweet and appetizing taste that some fish have. The natural flavor intensifying degree of glutamate in food varies greatly but is intense in fish. What is the purpose of amino acids? They regulate water absorption in the fish’s body depending on its surroundings.

Freshwater fish have a higher concentration of salt in their bodies than the water they live in. It’s important to know this, because you can make use of this information when cooking or try to get rid of the fish smell in your dish.

No one likes smelly fish but unless you cook it right after you’ve caught it, most probably it has been out of water for several hours. Unless it was frozen, the fish smell lingers, even refrigerated. Its smell can turn out to be persistently more prominent.

In this case, relying on an acid such as lemon juice is a solution. Bathe the fish in lemon juice or dip it in milk for 20 minutes to get rid of the odor. Wash the fish with cold water as that may help, too, but do not use warm or hot water. That being said here is a list of the best tasting freshwater fish.



The Bluegill is native to North America, it lives in streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds and can grow up to 12 inches long.

These fish feed mostly on other small organisms both near the shore and in depths depending on the water temperature and the moment of the day. They spawn in spring and early summer near-shore. Fishing bluegill is most productive in the spawning season in shallow waters where they thrive along with largemouth bass.

Although bluegill seems to be more preferred by some consumers rather than crappie because of its firm and flaky texture, the disadvantage seems to be the size of this fish. The dense fillets obtained from its flesh can make it a favorite of some folks, though.



If you prefer a light and flaky texture, then crappie should be your choice.

Crappie is a freshwater fish whose habitat is in the North American area. White crappies live in large rivers, reservoirs and lakes, and can be found in murky water as well. Black crappie prefers clearer water compared to other subspecies. They spawn in May and June and feed on other fish and some large invertebrates.

They reach 19 to 20 inches in length when they’re adults and prefer water with dense vegetation. They are schooling fish which can be found in shallow waters during their spawning period.

Fishing crappie can take place even during cold seasons due to their active metabolism during this period. Because of this fact crappie is a popular catch when ice fishing.


Largemouth bass

Like the previous two, largemouth and smallmouth bass are native to North America. They are a part of the sunfish family and feed on smaller fish, snails, frogs, snakes and even baby alligators.

They are some of the most widespread and sought after fish species. This fish puts up a fight, which makes the angling experience even more thrilling for those trying to catch it. Because of their meaty and muscular bodies, this type of fish is one of the most tasteful to cook.



Salmons are anadromous fish. They reproduce in freshwater and live in saltwater. They mainly live in the North Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. The taste of this fish depends on the breed.

Atlantic salmon has a strong “fishy” flavor while pink salmon is much more mild tasting. Salmon is an abundant source of Omega 3 and proteins and it’s highly recommended for weight loss diets.



There are three different species of perch that inhabit different geographical areas.

Yellow perch, native to North America, feeds on invertebrates, fish eggs or juvenile fish. They school in small weed waters and sandy bottoms. Perch is one of the finest flavored panfish and its texture is firmer than that of crappie. It is one of the most targeted species in ice fishing.

European perch can be found in Europe and northern Asia. This subspecies feeds on invertebrates and fish, mainly sticklebacks. Gluttony is one of the characteristics of this fish that makes it an easy catch. Its taste is very similar to sea bass and the texture is quite firm and it has white flesh.

Balkhash perch lives mainly in Kazakhstan. They make a good catch regardless of the fisherman’s skill level. They feed on larvae, crustaceans, and small fish and zooplankton. The best period to catch them is during winter when it’s their spawning season. Their taste is similar to their European and American counterparts.


Rainbow trout

Another anadromous fish to put on your catch and eat list. Their diet, made of aquatic insects, shrimp and crustaceans, is what makes them delicious.

They live in coastal waters and are a highly regarded game fish. The fresh taste is vaguely reminiscent of salmon but milder, sweeter, and more delicate. Its texture is a little flaky and tender and its fat content is similar to that of salmon.



Native to Northern US and Canada, walleye is a fish that yields a lot of meat for its size. Fishing for walleye is a popular sport. It’s the biggest of the perch family and prefers feeding in dark.

They are known for their delicious, succulent meat and they feed mainly on other fish. Another advantage is that walleye have very few bones so they are much more appealing than other kinds of fish.


Northern pike

Pike are found in languid streams, shallow, weedy lakes, and in cool, clear, rough waters. They occupy any water body that contains fish and reasonable spots for reproducing, which are fundamental for their numbers. The youthful free-swimming pike feasts upon little invertebrates and rapidly proceeds onward to greater prey.  

When they reach adulthood, their sustenance is comprised of little fish. Pike will attack nearly anything that moves. Hence, the sort of bait you pick won’t radically change the result of your angling trip. Northern pike really is a flavorful, delectable fish provided it is cooked correctly. A drawback for this fish type is the high number of bones. Its meat is white, flavorful, and has a flaky texture.


Gars usually prefer the shallow and weedy areas of streams and lakes, regularly grouping in little schools.

They are ravenous predators, getting their prey with their needle-like teeth, and with a sideways strike of the head. They all set up an incredible battle when they’re caught. This type of fish can reach a weight of a hundred pounds or more

Gar flesh isn’t flaky and it lacks the ‘fishy’ odor you might encounter in other species. In fact, its taste and consistency is similar to that of chicken.


Coho Salmon

The Coho salmon is a type of anadromous fish in the salmon family. It is one of the few types of Pacific salmon with less greasy oils than the king salmon.

The coho salmon has a lighter taste, which means you can influence its flavor with seasonings and anything else you might want to use in your fishes. It’s less nutritious compared to the King salmon, but it still makes for a healthy meal choice.


Dover Sole

There are two types of Dover Sole — Flounders and Soles. There is a major flavor distinction between the two.

This flatfish generally lives on the sloppy or sandy seabed of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern Atlantic. Dover sole are also called “ooze” or “elusive” sole since they discharge mucous that makes them slimy. Dover sole is sold fresh, whole, headed, gutted, dressed, or in fillets. Dover sole from the Pacific has a mellow taste and is frail compared to other species, even though its not as mild-flavored as its European counterpart.

Since flatfish quality can differ tremendously, many aficionados recommend searching for Dover sole that has a uniform color.

Flounder has a pinkish to tan flavor. When cooked, it becomes white. It’s flaky and its taste is mildly sweet. The texture is a bit firmer compared to that of other fish. Since its taste can be influenced by sauces or herbs, it’s recommended that you add them at the end of the cooking process.




1) Crappie vs. Bluegill: All You Need to Know

2) Bluegill – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

3) Is it safe to eat salmon every day?

4) All you need to know about gars 



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