How to Hold a Bass Fish [The Ultimate Guide for Beginners]

It is time to bag the trophy you’ve been eyeing. After setting your cast, hooking, and reeling a big bass, what next? It would be best if you got bass out of the water for the glorious moment of all time. It is not as easy as it sounds, especially for beginners; it requires a skill.

But since the hard part is complete (catching it), this one should not be a scare or so much of a struggle. Though, it can be harmful to both the angler and the fish if not properly handled. So how do you do it properly? Read on.

Short answer

Holding a bass vertically, with its tail just beneath its mouth, is the safest way to hold it. This means that the weight of the bass’s body puts no strain on its jaw.

Place your thumb inside the mouth of the bass to grip its bottom lip, or dentary, to hold it vertically.

Why Is It Important To Hold A Bass?

Apart from fishing for livelihood and food, other anglers fish for credibility and status ranking. For example, fishing bass is usually more for trophy than food. Most anglers do not eat the bass they catch. They end up returning them in water, soon as they take the photo for show off.

Catching the fish is just half of the task. Now you have to hold it the right way to complete your “mission”. The way you hold it could cause a significant problem to its jaws alignment. Hence, it could face hard time hunting and capturing its prey once back in the water. What’s more?

Improper handling can rip off its slime coat. This slime coat is a mucoprotein and acts as a protective layer as part of its immune system. So when you catch bass and let it slide, hitting a rock or a bank, it could harm the coat, bringing it at risk of severe factors.

Other times, anglers forget to carry a landing net while fishing for bass. So after catching the bass, they hoist it onto dry land, which can be very risky as it puts the bass in an uncomfortable condition. Let’s not forget the bass’s sharp teeth. For beginners who are unaware of the razor-sharp teeth, they end up with severe bites while holding the mouth.

Check also: Top 5 Spinning Reels for Bass in 2022

Do Bass Have Teeth?

Do Bass Have Teeth

As a matter of fact, very sharp teeth, especially the largemouth bass! Well, definitely not as sharp as that of a shark, but they are sharp enough to cut your thumb as you put them in the mouth while holding it.

Bass has small, needle-like razor-sharp teeth that face inwards in their jaws. In that position, they can hold their prey and push it deeper inside the mouth. Once inside, the prey will find another section or smaller teeth that will now grind the food ready to swallow.

Another way to avoid sharp bass teeth is by taking them back in the water as soon as possible. Fish is for water, and water is for fish, do not take out fish you intend to eat for a long time from water. When you take it out longer than it can handle, it will start to twist, trying to escape. In that act, you risk the sharp teeth cutting through your thumb.

Check also: The 5 Best Saltwater Spinning Reels For the Money in 2022

How to Unhook a Bass

Unhooking a bass is not different or unusual- it is the same way you would do in general fishing. After hooking your bass:

  1. Reel it until you can grab it with your hand.
  2. When it is in your hand firmly, hold its underside, and slide the hook out of its mouth.
  3. Remember to be gentle and careful when unhooking to avoid any tears on its mouth.

Fishing for bass is best in the spring season. However, some days are more fruitful than waiting for the spring. Be sure to know the best time for bass fishing so you can have more practice on its fishing techniques.

How to Hold a Bass

While holding a bass for anglers is a familiar task, you probably are not doing it right, or there are other better ways of holding it. So, there is always room to learn more and better. For beginners, here is your chance to take notes on the proper way of handling a bass. So the next fishing trip, you will be a complete angler, who can cast, hook, reel, and hold bass.

There are different styles of holding a bass, such as;

  1. Vertical hold
  2. Horizontal hold
  3. Angled hold

See more below.

1- Vertical Hold

This style allows you to hold the bass with its weight hence at a vertical position. This way, it hangs from your thumb and forefinger with a firm but not too tight grip. How?

The best approach to this method is grabbing it by its lower jaw. Put your thumb inside the bass’s mouth to clutch its bottom lip or denture as the other fingers go beneath the lip. This way, you will avoid the sharp teeth and also keep your hand off its gill plate. If you tamper with its gill plate, you will be damaging its respiratory system. Holding vertically will enable you to avoid its spines as well.

Furthermore, the vertical holding method allows even distribution of the bass’s weight with the tail directly under its mouth. When the weight is even, you will not have to apply excessive pressure to hold the bass. It feels more like a natural way of holding.

2- Horizontal Hold

Unlike the vertical hold, the horizontal hold is ideal for larger bass. This type of grip ensures you hold all its weight correctly. Of course, a good photo stunt as well.

Similar to the vertical hold, grip its lower jaw firmly with your thumb in the mouth to hold the lower lip. Once you are sure of a firm grip, place your other hand on the underside of the bass body gently. The perfect position on the bottom should be somewhere near the tail. Use about 3-4 fingers to support the entire weight of the bass. What’s more?

Do not squeeze the fish’s underside; hold it gently for support purposes with your lower hand. Rest assured of some slime and fish smell on your hands and even your clothes. Once you release the bass back in the water, rinse off the scent and slime from your hands.

For a large-sized bass, holding horizontally will avoid overextending the lower jaw and stretching its body.

3- The Angled Hold

Holding a bass at an angle is only ideal for smaller bass. It could seriously damage the jaw of a larger bass by overloading pressure. The appropriate angle size should be no more than 10 degrees. You can identify an angled hold by putting the fish’s body to its head. – if the body is greater than 10 degrees angle from the head, then it’s angled.

Even though most photos show this type of holding, be careful not to use it on the large fish in all circumstances.

Release Tips

After taking your photo, it is time to release your bass back into the water. But, it is not just throwing it back in; there are ways of sliding it properly. For instance;

  1. Slide fish in the water, gently with its head first and supporting the mid-section and tail till it swims away.
  2. Revive a tired fish by gently putting its head and body into the current. This way, you are forcing water into the mouth and over the gills.
  3. After releasing it, do not walk away immediately. Watch it for some time if it will swim away. If not, grab it and try rereleasing it.

See also:

Best Time to Fish for Bass

What Does Largemouth Bass Eat?


There you go! IF you hold the bass wrongly, you’ll be placing yourself and the bass in harm’s way. Besides, it will not be a prize if you are hurting it in any way. A perfect bass catching trophy is being able to catch it, hold it and release it without harming it. This way, you also extend its life for a more successful fishing trip next time.

Leave a Comment