how to hold a bass

Tips on How to Hold a Bass

Who doesn’t like snagging a large bass fish? Unfortunately, this can quickly fade away by holding the bass fish in the wrong way and having it slip out. This not only limits the survival of the bass but also possesses great danger to you.

That is why it is very important to learn how to hold a bass fish. You have probably seen many photos of anglers holding bass.

The sad thing is that a larger percentage of bass fishing anglers approach it in the wrong way. But, you should not be among these people, because I will show you how to hold a bass properly.

Why Holding a Bass Properly Matters

For many anglers, bass fishing is not just a sport. They follow some crucial principles for respect for the life of fish. This is intended to protect the fish cycle. It is part of a good approach and proper fishing technique your prized catch

This is characterized by ensuring they return the fish safely into the water.

Returning the fish to the water ensures it will be in a point to hunt and bleed efficiently like before. If you previously did not value returning the fish in the water safely, then you should start doing so.

Holding a bass properly is a key factor in ensuring you will return the fish in the water alive.  Most fish will have a slime coat so it pays to follow our tips. This is by using the three recommended ways to hold a bass. Holding a bass in the right way reduces causing damage on the jaw.

holding a bass proper way

When you catch fish and let it slide back to the water, it can cause great damage. I see this happening to many beginners. Doing this also possesses you in great danger. 

You can avoid this by holding the fish in the right way. After that, you can now lift the fish without any shortcomings.

Lastly, when you hold the fish in the wrong way it can lead to suffocation. When you cover the gills the fish will experience difficulties in breathing and finally die. 

Because we don’t want anything like that. It all boils down to Holding a Bass Properly.

How to Hold a Bass like A Champ

There are different ways you can hold a bass. You can hold it vertically, horizontally, or at a certain angle. These holding techniques are used for different purposes. 

Nevertheless, to hold the bass like a champ, there are some key guidelines you should implement.

Holding a Bass Vertically

Anglers and fishing experts agree, holding the bass in the vertical position, is the safest way. This is when the mouth of the fish is pointing to the sky, whereas, the tail is pointing downwards.

This is great because it reduces any pressure on the bass’s jaw. The weight of the body lies on one hand.

bass holding fishing tips

Holding the bass vertically is pretty simple. Place a thumb inside the mouth (at the bottom lip) and then use the other hand to hold the lower part. Then use the other fingers to get a firm grip on the bass.

Make sure your hands are not slippery, to avoid dropping them. Ensure you don’t twist the bass more than 10 degrees to avoid injuries.

Holding a Bass Horizontally

Want to capture a photo opportunity of your larger fish, then this is the right technique to use. It’s very right and accepted to hold the bass fish in a horizontal position. But, just like vertical hold, there are some important things you should do.

First, get a firm grip on the bottom lip with your thumb, then let the other fingers rest outside the mouth. Then carefully use the other hand to support the bass from the bottom, just near the anal fin.

Let the mouth be higher than the body, to avoid pressuring the jaws of the fish. Then there you can now take a photo of your prized catch however you want.

Angled Hold

Unlike the above two methods, the angled hold is only used for small bass. This is because it can damage the jaws of larger bass. When you hold the fish and cause the body to exceed 10 degrees from the horizontal. 

This when you will damage the jaw.  To use this angled hold to hold a bass you should:

  • Use it on a small and lighter bass
  • Avoid exceeding 10 degrees from a horizontal angle.

Safety Measure When Holding a Bass

Protection is better than cure. These safety measures will help you hold a bass better:

  • Don’t insert your whole thumb into the mouth of the fish.  It happens so getting a bass thumb is part of it.
  • It is good practice to wear waders.
  • Never hold the gills of the bass, to avoid damage.
  • Don’t place your hand on the belly of the bass.

Unhooking a Bass

It is not a crime to unhook the bass like any other fish. After a perfect catch of your trophy sized fish, elevate the bass until you hold it with your hand. Then hold the underside of the fish. Slide-out the hook out of its mouth. Then you can employ different techniques to hold the bass.

Note, you will need to use a sharp hook. This will ensure the bass is hooked appropriately. In the same way, it will ensure you can unhook easily.

Some key guidelines to implement when unhooking are:

  • Always hold the fish firmly before unhooking.
  • When pulling the bass from the water before you unhook, ensure the gills are not covered.
  • While hooking don’t exert too much pressure.
  • If you unhook the bass and realize it is having breathing difficulties, return it immediately in the water.

After unhooking it is easy to panic when trying to get a perfect grip. You can end up placing a larger part of your thumb into the mouth of the fish. 

This can cause the bass teeth (Yes bass do have teeth) to slide on your skin and cause severe damage.

Returning the Bass to Water

After all is done you will now need to return the bass to its habitat. You should do it modestly. It is very incorrect to drop it on water and expect everything will be alright. There is a safer way to do it.

To do that use one hand to hold the base of the bass, and the other supporting the belly. Then lower both hands into the water, and observe it for some seconds. Then release the tail and let it swim away. 

The success of its next venture relies on how you treated it when you held it.

There are also descenders (A tool used to incline a fish into water) to help you release the fish into the water. This is how to proceed when you have a fish descender;

  • Take the hook and fit it above the jaw.
  • Release the fish by letting the weight pull it some meters downwards.
  • When the bass reaches some meters down, pull upwards and remove the hook.

In any way, you decide to release the fish, do it in the right way.

Final Thoughts

You now know the does and don’ts when holding a bass, your next fishing adventure will be an amazing one. Having in mind you will not harm the jaw of the fish. It will also show you great concern as an angler to marine life.

When you hold the fish correctly, you extend the life of the fish. Which gives hope for a better fishing experience tomorrow. 

You will be doing a great favor to your fish appetite in the future.

Related Questions

Do Bass Have Teeth?

Yes, bass have teeth. They have some small but sharp teeth, which they mainly use when hunting for prey. Though they are nothing like those of the shark, they can tear your thumb.

Does it hurt to hold a Bass?

It only hurts when you hold it in the wrong way. When you exceed 10 degrees from the horizontal it will harm the jaw. Some even get what is called bass thumb.  It is a slight rug burn feeling and it is a good sign to get it since you catch many.

How many inches does a Bass have to be to keep it?

The accepted minimum length is 14 inches. This is for the smallmouth and largemouth bass. For the striped bass this the minimum length limit increases to 18 inches.

how to hold a bass tutorial

We at College Bass provide tips and guides for both beginners and advanced freshwater anglers and casters out there. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to
This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.