The Gentle Grip: How to Safely Hold a Bass Fish

spotted bass, fishing, angling

Catching a bass is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s essential to know how to properly handle the fish once you’ve landed it. Properly holding a bass not only ensures your safety and the fish’s well-being, but it also makes for a great photo opportunity to show off your catch. In this blog post, we’ll explore the best techniques for safely and securely holding a bass fish.

Why Proper Handling Matters

When holding a bass, it’s crucial to consider the safety and well-being of both the angler and the fish. Improper handling can lead to injuries for the angler, such as cuts or puncture wounds from the fish’s sharp fins and teeth. For the fish, improper handling can cause stress or physical harm, potentially leading to delayed mortality after release. By learning how to correctly hold a bass, you can minimize these risks and ensure a successful catch and release.

How to Hold a Bass Fish

  1. Wet Your Hands: Before handling a bass, it’s important to wet your hands. This helps protect the fish’s sensitive slime coat, which serves as a barrier against disease and infection. Handling a bass with dry hands can remove this protective layer, leaving the fish vulnerable to illness.
  2. Lip Grip: One of the most popular and secure ways to hold a bass is by using the lip grip technique. To do this, firmly grasp the fish’s lower jaw between your thumb and index finger, placing your thumb inside the mouth and your index finger on the outside. This method provides a secure grip without causing harm to the fish. Bass do not have sharp teeth, so there is minimal risk of injury to the angler when using this method.
  3. Support the Body: When holding a larger bass, it’s important to provide additional support for the fish’s body to prevent injury. While maintaining the lip grip with one hand, use your other hand to gently cradle the fish’s body beneath the pectoral and pelvic fins. This helps distribute the weight of the fish and reduces stress on its jaw and internal organs.
  4. Keep the Fish Horizontal: Whenever possible, hold the bass in a horizontal position. This maintains the fish’s natural orientation and minimizes stress on its body. Avoid holding the fish vertically, as this can put unnecessary strain on the jaw and internal organs.
  5. Be Mindful of Fins: Bass have sharp dorsal and anal fins, which can cause injury if not handled carefully. When holding a bass, be aware of these fins and avoid placing your hands or fingers near them.
  6. Minimize Time Out of Water: To ensure the well-being of the fish, minimize the amount of time it spends out of the water. Quickly take any photos, remove the hook, and then promptly return the bass to the water to maximize its chances of survival.


Knowing how to properly hold a bass is an important skill for any angler. By following these tips, you can safely and confidently handle your catch while protecting the fish’s well-being and ensuring a successful catch and release. With practice and care, you’ll be able to show off your impressive bass catches while knowing you’re doing your part to promote responsible angling practices.