How To Clean, Prep, Season and Grill A Whole Calico Bass

Recently I went after calicos out of Dana Point with my buddy Manny. He bought the kayaks and in turn, I showed him some of my bass spots in Capo beach. The morning starter out foggy but soon cleared by 8 am. We ran into a bite just as soon as the sun peaked through the fog. I brought a nice three pounder home just to make a grilled calico bass recipe.

My new recipe teaches you how to cook a whole calico. Starting with how to scale it, then gut, gill and clean it. Finally how to prep it for the grill and then cooking it. This recipe also includes a very citrusy baste that bathes the whole fish with juicy fresh orange and lime juices. If you’ve ever wanted to cook a grilled calico bass recipe, this is it.

Grilled Calico Bass Recipe

  • 3-4 whole calico, scaled, gutted, gilled, 2 slits on each side
  • 2 medium oranges, 1 juiced, 1 sliced 
  • 3 medium limes, 2 juiced, 1 sliced
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Start Cooking the Grilled Calico Bass 

1. Start making the baste. Add the juice of an orange and two limes into a mixing container. Add the salt and pepper, and then add some molasses. Mix until the molasses dissolves. Now start slowly adding the extra virgin olive oil, while vigorously whisking. Add enough olive oil so that the final ratio between the citrus juice and olive oil is 2:1.

2. Start prepping bass by lathering its skin with olive oil and black pepper. Also lather the inside of the gut cavity olive oil, salt and pepper. Do not add salt to the outside skin of the calico, which will cause steaming of the skin and not crisping of the skin.

3. Now it’s time to grill the bass, along with the orange and lime slices.  Make sure your grill is hot (at least 500F), and clean. Wipe your grill off with either a paper towel or a clean rag with veggie oil on it. Place the bass and orange and lime slices on the grill. Cook one side for at least 5-6 minutes. Flip the bass over and start basting the fish. Cook the other side for 4-5 minutes, depending on how big the bass is. Check inside the slits for doneness.

4. Plate the bass and citrus slices, and then pour the remaining baste over fish and citrus slices. Enjoy!!

Get the full video recipe here from Fisherman’s Belly!

Fisherman's BellyPlease visit Fisherman’s Belly for many more delicious recipes and unique ideas for preparing your seafood and fresh catch or visit the “FishermansBellyChannel” on Youtube to subscribe for weekly updates:

Fisherman's Belly is the brainchild of Yanni Hassir, a SoCal waterman whose passion extends from the ocean to his kitchen. offers a growing list of seasonal SoCal sport fish recipes. There are tips and tricks for cooking yellowtail, rockfish, white seabass, halibut, lobster, tuna...