The Correct Way To Hold A Bass

Largemouth Bass

A Science Behind The Correct Way To Hold A Bass

Lippin a Bass
Lippin a Bass

In the April 2017 edition of the North American Journal of Fisheries Management (Volume 37, Issue 2), there was a paper by J. Skaggs, Y. Quintana, S. Shaw, M. Allen, N. Trippel, and M. Matthews titled, “Effects of Common Angler Handling Techniques on Florida Largemouth Bass Behavior, Feeding and Survival.  In their study they handled large mouth bass weighing from 2.4 to 8.5 pounds in one of three ways:  

•    Held vertically with a lip-gripping tool.
•    Supported horizontally by two hands.
•    Tilted to a horizontal position with a one-handed lip-grip.

In short the study found no significant differences in recovery times, feeding success and survival of the bass handled in those three different ways–yep, the bass jocks that say lip ’em and forget about it are partly right.  However, the authors did suggest that fish horizontally supported by two hands did recover quicker after release and although the differences were not statistically significant they also were more successful feeding after release.  Horizontally supporting the fish with two hands was best.

Like most scientific studies dealing with wild creatures, results were not “black and white”, and more questions always arise from good research.  Perhaps the best conclusion at this time is that there is a “good”, “better” and “best” way to handling all fish for that matter?

Too many anglers like to get isolated in their own little world.  Too many anglers develop tunnel vision for only one species of fish or only one fishing technique.  Maybe bass anglers could learn some things from the Muskie guys?  

Handling Fish

Are there good, better and best ways to handle bass?  To handle any fish?

Fish should be handled in the best way possible, especially those that are going to be released.  Yep, tournament bass jocks can and will continue to lip ’em and go with it, and with most bass that is probably fine.  But, understand that larger bass especially should merit extra care, extra support.  Why wouldn’t an avid bass angler be in favor of handling bass, all bass, in the best way possible?  Bass are readily catchable, readily releasable, and can be caught over and over again.  Research has proven that.  Why not handle all of those bass in the very best way possible?  The fish, the resource, the fishing, will benefit from it.  And, yes, flipping bass, any fish, onto the bottom of the boat isn’t the best way to handle ’em!  

Fish are Slimy!  Flopping fish onto the bottom of a boat, even a carpeted bottom, or worse yet letting them flop on the shoreline in the sand or leaves absolutely is NOT the best way to handle them.  That is not even a “good” way to handle them.  NO “shake and bake” fish, not in the dirt and leaves, not even on the carpet!

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