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These days where almost everyone has a camera phone and can take a picture, or even video of their trophy bass and upload it to the internet you get to see lots and lots of bass pictures and video. Unfortunately, one common thing I see is the way the bass are handled and held for that “hero” shot. I have been guilty many times of taking to many pictures, or holding the bass by its jaw with one hand. In this article we’ll take a look at proper bass handling.

Hero Shot

Hero Shot

When I was younger I loved to try to catch two bass and get the “Hero Shot” it looks awesome, but over time I’ve begun to wonder if it really hurts the bass. I have caught a few big bass in my days and sometimes have caught the same fish multiple times within a few months. On those occasions, I have noticed that a few of the mouths on a few of those fish didn’t close properly anymore. The lower jaw was extended a bit and no longer lined up with the upper lip.

20lb-12oz Bass

20lb-12oz Bass

In the picture above of the 20lb-12oz. bass I caught and as you can see, I did hold the fish by the lower jaw a few times. If you look to where the red arrow is pointing you can see some stretching has occurred. I have found no scientific studies to prove that this lower jaw stretching interferes with the feeding habits of these bass, but I have been doing underwater video now for over two years of big bass in their natural habitat and have noticed something. When filming during trout stockings, I have noticed that the big bass have a visual difference in their jaw, one that does not allow it to close all the way and these fish definitely struggle to catch trout and hold on to them.

Needle Like Front Teeth

Needle Like Front Teeth

Bass have multiple small needle like front teeth that slightly tilt inward and work to hold onto large prey and help direct food further into its mouth to the crushers, which also have small teeth on them.

Rear Crushers

Rear Crushers

The crushers push down and and slowly roll the prey into the stomach of the bass where digestive enzymes will start to break it down. So if part of this system is not working properly, it can lead to difficulties in successful hunting.

16 lb. Bass Help Properly

16 lb. Bass Held Properly

The picture above is a good example of how to properly hold and supporting the weight of the bass.

The Boys Practicing Proper Bass Handling

The Boys Practicing Proper Bass Handling

Even the boys have taught me how to properly handle and hold large bass.

Holding a Monster Bass

Holding a Monster Bass

In the picture above of a monster bass weighing over 20 lbs., I am teaching someone the proper way to hold and support it. Over the years I have helped quite a few people take pictures of their big bass and in doing so, teach them what I have learned in proper bass handling technique. I have heard through the grapevine that these same people were passing this information on to others, which is really great news. I do believe it is up to all of us to help teach everyone who is willing to listen, how to properly handle large bass so the next generation of bass fisherman will get a fair chance at catching a healthy trophy bass of a lifetime.

Below is a short video I shot a few years ago about proper bass handling:

 

Mike Long

Mike Long, is well known for monster bass, like the 20.12 oz largemouth bass taken from Dixon Lake in 2001. That fish put him at number ten on the world record list, but it wasn’t his only large fish. He is among a handful of bass fisherman with hundreds of fish over 10 lbs to his credit.

5 comments on “Proper Bass Handling

Proper Bass Handling... on March 3, 2013 11:04 am

Proper Bass Handling – Mike Long Outdoors I found this very informative. We need to keep those lunkers healthy and able to eat properly to keep growing.

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Brian Parker on March 3, 2013 2:26 pm

Mike,

You are a true ambassador for us guides, anglers, and tournament fishermen. Thank you for all the information and tutorials.

Brian Parker
lakeaustinfishing@yahoo.com

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Brian on March 3, 2013 6:17 pm

More good stuff Mike. I’ve been part of this conversation a few times online about how poorly fish are handled and it seems that one aspect that’s overlooked is when we weigh our fish. It stands to reason that hanging a fish from a hook on a scale or Boga Grip type of scale, some of the same stresses could occur. And if the fish shakes free the problems compound as it flounders on the bottom of the boat.

Do you think that exploring alternative methods for weighing fish (such as using a bucket with water, and a scale with a tare feature) is a worthwhile cause? I’m not sure myself but the current popular method seems like it has the potential to be just as harmful as some of these other more obvious poor handling techniques.

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Phil Griffin on March 4, 2013 1:55 am

Mike,

Great article we really need to protect the big bass we hunt. these ‘Big Girls” are a rare find. All big bass fisherman should pass this info on. Also tournement anglers should watch how they handle fish in their livewells.

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Mr.T on March 4, 2013 3:56 pm

You should also do an article on how to properly cull a fish (Bill Siemental had a great youtube video about this), when used in conjunction with your XL Stringer it really minimizes the damage done to big fish.

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