There are many different types of freshwater trout and bass, some of them in the same waters. For this reason many people wonder about their differences. Therefore, what is the difference between trout and bass?
Freshwater trout and bass are different species. Trout can be tougher to catch than Bass. Freshwater bass grow longer than trout and weigh between 10-20 pounds while trout weigh 2-6 pounds. Largemouth bass and brown trout taste stronger and fishier than smaller trout and bass.
This article will do a side-by-side comparison of their tastes, textures, nutrients, costs, cooking methods, mercury levels and whether one can substitute for the other in recipes. In addition, I’ll compare their habitats, size, weight and how to tell them apart.
Many of my health coaching clients ask me about these two fish for their diets. In addition to coaching clients about them, I’ve purchased, researched and consumed both prior to, during and after writing this article.
Trout vs Bass: Habitats, Size, Weight and Appearance
Bass is a name shared by many different species of fish. The more common freshwater are found in similar areas and waters as freshwater trout. Those include spotted, smallmouth and largemouth.
Trout is also a name shared by many different fish. The more common freshwater are found in similar areas as freshwater bass. The more common ones are brown and brook trout.
For this reason, this article will discuss the more common and similar spotted, smallmouth and largemouth bass. In addition, the more common and similar brook and brown trout. Therefore, let’s move on to our comparisons.
Since many of these fish can be found in the same waters, many people wonder how their appearance compares to each other. Therefore, let’s examine all their physical differences and how to tell them apart.
Freshwater bass have a greenish to brown body while trout have more orange, red or creamy color on the sides with an olive back. Trout have tiny, round speckled spots colored yellow, red or black while bass have more dark, blotchy spots or bars. Bass have two dorsal fins close together while trout have one isolated dorsal fin.
Other ways to tell the difference:
- The trout’s jaw extends past the center of the eye line. Freshwater bass, except for the largemouth, jaw doesn’t extend past the eye line.
- Bass are longer and weigh more. Adult trout average 2-6 pounds. Adult bass average 10-20 pounds.
- Bass are typically darker and have a more rounded body.
Scientific Classifications, Families, Species
Smallmouth are from:
- Family: Centrarchidae
- Genus: Micropterus
- Species: M. dolomieu
- Common nicknames: Brownie, brown bass, bronze bass, small and bronze back.
Largemouth are from:
- Family: Centrarchidae
- Genus: Micropterus
- Species: M. salmoides
- Common nicknames: Bucketmouth, largies, green bass, bigmouth bass.
Spotted are from:
- Family: Centrarchidae
- Genus: Micropterus
- Species: M. punctulatus
- Common nicknames: Spots, spotty.
Brook trout are from:
- Family: salmonidae
- Genus: Salvelinus
- Species: S. fontinalis.
- Common nicknames: Speckled trout, brook charr, mud trout, squaretail.
Brown trout are from:
- Family: salmonidae
- Genus: Salmo
- Species: S. trutta
- Common nicknames: German brown, lake trout.
They are a different species of fish from different families.
Fishing: Where Bass and Trout Live
- They are native to the upper and middle Mississippi River Basin, the Great Lakes, Saint Lawrence River and the Hudson Bay Basin in Canada. They have been introduced into many cool-water rivers and lakes in the United States and Canada.
- They prefer colder waters.
- They are native to the eastern and central United States, southeastern Canada and northern Mexico. They have been introduced into many other areas as well.
- They prefer warmer waters.
- They are native to the Mississippi River and across the Gulf states from Texas to Florida. In addition, they are found in the western Mid-Atlantic states. They have been introduced to Virginia, North Carolina and southern Africa.
- They prefer warmer waters with strong currents and turbulence.
- Prefer clear, open waters.
- Commonly found in reservoirs and streams.
- Brook trout are found mostly in the northeastern United States and Canada. They have also been introduced to Europe and Asia.
- They prefer cool, clean mountain streams.
- Commonly found in streams, small rivers and lakes.
- They have been introduced to North and South America and are also found in Europe, Africa and Asia. They were first introduced to the U.S. from Germany in 1883.
- They have a high tolerance for warmer waters.
- Commonly found in rivers, ponds or lakes.
- Many trout live in lakes which is why one nickname is lake trout. My cousin always said he was fishing in the lake to catch trout.
Both species are commonly found in The United States and Canada.
Trout and Bass Fishing
Before going fishing, be sure to check your State park’s education programs and wildlife websites. To catch bass or fishing trout, refer to the State for any limitations and waters where fishing may have regulations.
Many people target April to mid May a good time for bass fishing and trout fishing. The water temperatures begin to warm up. Depending on your location late March may be good for fishing.
Trout and Bass Appearance
- Spotted have a greenish gray body. They have dark, black spots forming a jagged horizontal line down the body.
- Smallmouth have a golden olive to brownish body. They have brown vertical bars or thick stripes down the body. The head has dark brown horizontal bars.
- Largemouth have a greenish gray body. They have dark, black blotches forming jagged horizontal lines down the body.
- Brook trout has an olive-green back. Along the sides the color transitions to an orange or red color and the belly is milky white. They are covered in yellow round spots which are wormlike near the back.
- Brown trout are brown to an olive green near the top. The sides are a creamy, golden and off white on the belly. They are covered in black and golden, brown spots.
- Spotted has two dorsal fins clearly connected to each other.
- Smallmouth have two dorsal fins separated by a shallow notch. The front dorsal is shorter with spine rays. The second dorsal is taller with soft rays.
- Largemouth have two dorsal fins with no separation. The front dorsal is shorter with spine rays. The 2nd is taller with soft rays.
- Brook have a larger front dorsal fin followed by a small fin closer to the tail.
- Brown have a larger dorsal fin followed by a small fin closer to the tail.
- The spotted bass jaw does not extend past the eye line.
- The smallmouth protruding jaw doesn’t extend past the red or brown eyes.
- The largemouth upper jaw extends past the eye socket.
- Brown trout’s jaw extends past the center eye line.
- Brook trout’s jaw extends past the center eye line.
Size and Weight
- A spotted bass can grow up to 25 inches long and weigh up to 11 pounds. The average spotted bass is 8-15″ long and weighs 1-2 pounds.
- Smallmouth average 12-16 inches long and weigh up to 10 pounds.
- Largemouth are bigger and average 15 inches and grow up to 20 pounds.
- Brook trout grows to an average 9-10″ in length and weighs 1-6 pounds.
- Brown trout in smaller rivers and streams average 7-14 inches long and 2 pounds. In the larger waters brown trout are longer and heavier.
- Spotted average lifespans is 7 years.
- Smallmouth oldest reported age is 26 years.
- Largemouth average lifespans are 10-16 years.
- Brook averages 6 years.
- Brown’s age varies from habitat to habitat. In smaller waters they average 5 years and up to 10 years in larger bodies of water.
Spotted consume the following:
- Other smaller fish
Smallmouth consume the following:
- Other small fish
Largemouth consume the following:
Brown trout consumes the following diet:
- Small fish
Brook consumes the following diet:
- Small mammals
For a complete comparison between small and large bass check out my article.
The following table is a side-by-side comparison of all the nutrients:
|Brown Trout, raw (4 Ounces)
|Brook Trout, raw (4 Ounces)
|Freshwater Bass, raw (4 Ounces)
Both fish contain a good number of minerals and vitamins. At first glance it’s difficult to determine which fish provides more. Therefore, let’s examine if trout is a lot better than bass.
Trout is healthier than bass due to its higher percentage of B vitamins and minerals. It provides more B6, B12, B5, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, potassium, phosphorus and selenium. Both have similar amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and zinc.
Bass is also healthy and provides a wide variety of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. They provide more folate, magnesium and calcium. All these nutrients are beneficial to health explained down further in the article.
Disclaimer: The Keto link and some others in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Both fish are renowned for being a part of many diets like keto or heart healthy.
If you’re eating low-carb or want to give keto a try, many of my clients have followed this 28-Day Keto Challenge with great success. Visit their website and check it out.
Trout and Bass: Tastes and Textures
One of the most important things people takes into consideration when choosing a fish or fishing is its taste. When comparing the two fish, let’s take a close look at which one tastes better.
Brook trout, spotted bass and smallmouth bass have a similar mild to sweet taste. Brown trout and largemouth bass have a stronger, fishier taste. Trout’s texture is medium compared to the bass firmer flesh. Trout is a little more flakier.
- Brook trout is mild and somewhat sweet. It doesn’t taste or smell fishy. It’s texture is medium flakiness and delicate when cooked.
- Brown trout has a stronger, fishier taste. The larger the fish when caught, the more fishy taste the fillet will contain. The texture is delicate and flaky when cooked.
- Spotted bass has a mild to sweet taste. It is only slightly fishy but not overly strong. It’s much less fishier than a largemouth bass. The flesh is white and has a firm texture.
- Smallmouth has a mild to sweet taste. It is only slightly fishy but not enough to turn people away who don’t prefer a fishy taste. The flesh is white and has a firm texture.
- Largemouth has a strong flavor and is a little fishy, more than smallmouth. It has white flesh which can be watery but is firm and meaty.
Many people soak fish with a fishy taste in milk overnight. This helps remove some of the fishiness by drawing out some of the oil.
If you’re wondering how rainbow trout compared, check out my article.
Keto Bread Tip: Great News! Did you know, you don’t have to give up your favorite bread, pizza or sandwiches to follow a 100% Keto diet. Find out more in the KetoBreads website by clicking here, Keto Breads.
When preparing recipes for dinner or fishing it’s not always possible to locate the type of fish called for. In addition, you may already have one type of fish and want to use it. If you have some trout, you may be wondering if you can substitute it for bass.
Trout and bass can substitute for each other in recipes due to their similar medium to firm textures. Brook trout, spotted and smallmouth bass have similar mild to sweet flavors and can substitute for each other. Largemouth and brown trout can substitute for each other due to their similar strong to fishier flavor.
The best brown trout substitutes include the following:
- Rainbow trout
- Northern pike
The best brook trout substitutes are:
- Atlantic cod
- Alaska pollock
- Rainbow trout
- White Sea bass
- Freshwater trout
- Lake herring
Spotted substitutes are:
- Freshwater trout
- Lake herring
- Mahi mahi
- Black Sea bass
Check out the best replacements in my article, Trout Replacements: The 12 Best Healthy Substitutes.
How To Cook Bass
- Smallmouth doesn’t have the same fishy flavor and smell that a largemouth contains. It doesn’t have to be seasoned as much to cover up the fishiness.
- Frying largemouth indoors can create a fishy smell which many people dislike. By adding many of the spices below can help lessen the fishy smell or taste. In addition, removing the skin and bloodline before cooking will help with the fishy taste.
- Spotted doesn’t have the same fishiness and smell that a largemouth contains. For this reason it doesn’t have to be seasoned as much to cover up the fishy smell and flavor.
They can be pan fried, deep fried, grilled, baked, sautéed and broiled.
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
How To Cook Trout
- Some chefs fry brown trout in a beer batter. Others like baking it wrapped in foil with some potatoes, onion or garlic. The stronger flavor doesn’t require heavy seasoning like some other white fish.
- To lessen the fishy taste soak it in milk overnight to draw out some of the oil.
- Many people cook fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side until lately browned and opaque. For whole fish, cook 3-4 minutes on each side until the flesh lifts from the backbone. The minutes may need to be adjusted depending on their size.
- Cayenne pepper
- Smoked paprika
- Chile powder
- Barbecue sauce
- Fresh herbs
Check out all the differences between spotted and largemouth in my article here.
How Much They Cost
The costs for fish will vary depending on how they are caught and the location. Therefore, let’s take a close look at their prices.
Brown trout and brook trout costs are similar. The average cost for brown and brook is approximately $28.00 per pound. Live trout for stocking cost $10.00 per pound and live largemouth costs $5 for a 6-8 inch fish.
Both species will probably not be found in a local store. I was unable to find any freshwater bass fillets. You may have a better chance fishing.
I checked online at the Fulton Fish Market and found the following prices:
- Previous frozen brown trout fillet
- $28.32 per pound
I checked online at Russ & Daughters:
- (2) fresh whole brook trout for $20.000
Online I checked the prices of live fish for stocking.
- $10.00 per pound for brook trout
- $10.00 per pound for brown trout
- $5.00 per 6-8 inch largemouth
To save some money on fresh seafood, would you believe some can be purchased on Amazon? Check out their current prices and selection, Fresh Seafood.
The FDA and EPA have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and how often they should be consumed 3. This is especially important for the following:
- Developing children
- Young infants
- Pregnant women
They established a list of the following:
- Fish to avoid
- Good choices
- Best fish
Since mercury levels are so important, let’s take a look at which of the two fish have more.
Freshwater bass have higher levels of mercury than freshwater trout. Freshwater trout is listed on the FDA’s best choice of fish regarding mercury levels. Bass has been listed on some states advisory warnings in regards to high levels of mercury.
If you’re pregnant, breast feeding or has a young child, Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.
Mercury warnings can change over time or affect only a particular area or state. Please check with your local EPA and FDA for the current recommendations 4.
Check out the detailed comparison of the spotted and smallmouth in my comparison article.
Trout and Bass Health Benefits
Editor’s Note: The information on Foods For Anti Aging is meant to be informative in nature and not meant to be taken as medical advice. The articles and opinions on this website are unintended to be used as as a treatment, prevention or diagnosis of health problems. Before modifying or starting any new nutritional, food, fitness, exercise or/and supplement routine, always check with your doctor first.
One major reason most fresh fish is healthy is due to their healthy fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids. This section will explain why the omega-3s, vitamins and minerals are so important.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The omega -3 fatty acids provided help keep arteries healthy and are considered heart healthy.
The omega-3s may help with the following:
- Reduce plaque buildup.
- Help regulate heart rhythms.
- Reduce inflammation.
- Lowering triglycerides.
- Keeping bad cholesterol low.
- Keeping good cholesterol high.
Many studies suggest omega-3s boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs. In addition, they’ve been shown to help reduce joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
DHA and EPA, two of the fatty acids, are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels.
Researchers believe the fatty acids help keep a body’s blood vessels strong, capable and flexible. This allows for better blood flow and improved circulation of oxygen 5.
The B vitamins provided include the following:
- B1 (thiamin)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B9 (folate)
B vitamins help support the following:
- Brain function.
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Red blood cells.
- Nerve function.
- Energy levels.
Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium which helps reduce fluid build-up. The result keeps systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 6.
The more potassium you consume, the more sodium your body will lose. Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 7.
According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure 8.
Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels balanced and stable. A recent study researched 22 studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased diastolic and systolic blood pressure 9.
Magnesium helps control the following:
- Nerve function
- Blood sugar
- Blood pressure
It’s able to accomplish this because it helps calm the whole body including blood vessels.
In the muscles and heart, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting. When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat 10.
Selenium is a nutrient which doesn’t receive much attention in health related articles. I’m unsure why many people don’t write about it more. Many studies 11 show selenium may help to protect the following:
- The immune system
- Cognitive issues
- Heart disease
Calcium is important for blood pressure and the heart.
Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure because it helps to control the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 12.
Calcium also helps the following:
- Improve nerve function.
- Helps muscles function properly.
- Build and maintain strong bones.
Do trout eat bass?
Adult trout are smaller than adult bass, therefore they typically don’t eat bass. It’s more common for the larger bass to consume trout when sharing the same waters.
Do bass fight harder than trout?
Bass fight harder than trout because they typically weigh more and require heavier tackle.
Are bass smarter than trout?
Bass are smarter than trout according to the International Gamefish Association. Largemouth bass have the highest IQ, remembering a single counter with a lure for longer than one year. Trout will repeatedly strike a lure before realizing it’s not a real fish.
Read Next: More Fish Articles
- ScienceDirect: Addressing information gaps in wild-caught foods in the US: Brook trout nutritional analysis for inclusion into the USDA national nutrient database for standard reference
- Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, mixed species, fresh water, bass
- FDA: Advice about Eating Fish
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mercury accumulation in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in a Florida lake
- National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease
- American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach
- Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis
- National Institutes of Health: Magnesium
- National Institutes of Health: Selenium
- Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Largemouth bass
- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: Spotted Bass
- National Park Service: Brown Trout
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Brook trout