Keep the fish in
water as much as possible. Bass can only hold their breathe as long as you
can. Wind and other elements can damage their skin, too. Wet your hands
before touching the fish so that you don't remove the slime coat that
protects the fish from infections and fungus. Don't handle the fish any
longer than you have to, and be gentle, don't drop the fish if you can keep
from it. Bouncing off the carpet also destroys their protective slime.
2. Never hold fish through the gills or stick your fingers in their
eyes. Lip the fish gently and do not bend back the lower jaw as it can break
easily, particularly in larger bass. For larger bass give support to the body
under the wrist of the tail so that you are not holding the fish's weight
balanced on it's own jawbone.
Do not rip or tear out hooks. Gently remove by backing off the barb or use
needle nose pliers. If the fish is deeply hooked just remove the lure portion
(lizard or whatever) and cut the line at the hook and release the fish. The
hook will rust out or tissue will grow around it and it will eventually come
out. Some of the newer hooks will not rust, try to cut out as much of the
hook as you are able, particularly the eye so that there is an open end that
can come free. There are ways to remove deeply embedded hooks, but do not do
this without having a demonstration beforehand. The barb has to be backed off
by applying pressure back against it and on small fish this is tough to do as
you can't get both hands in their mouths. Not all hooks deeply embedded can
be removed, but don't necessarily kill the fish, however if you see dark
colored tissue or entrails coming up through the throat you have gut-hooked
the fish and should clean it for dinner. If the fish is not a legal size you
will have to cut the line and release it anyway due to state law.
Try to land the fish you catch quickly, don't wear them out by making them
fight longer than they have to as this expends so much energy the bass can
not recover and has no chance for survival if released.
If you feel you
must use a dip net try to purchase one specifically designed for fish. Nets
can remove the slime coat and leave the fish open to infection
release the fish back into the water. Do not throw or toss the fish. It has
said that if you "gut hook" a fish, it would be better to cut your line and
leave the hook in the fish, than trying to remove. Biologist had stated that
the acid in the fish's body will dissolve the hook after a short period of
Don't use stringers for fish that will be released. Just as sticking your
fingers in the gills is bad for them stringers can destroy their gill
filaments. Regardless of where the stringer is placed in the fish, there is
no good way to use one, all do damage to lips, gills, etc. How would it feel
if someone stuck a stringer in your lungs? However, if fish is bleeding a
little from gills because of a hook injury you have not necessarily killed
that fish. Hold it in your livewell with Catch & Release treatment in the
water for several hours until the bleeding stops. Much like you pricking your
finger, a little blood does not signify death in all cases.
Once you have the fish in your livewell use the information provided in this
package to assist you in proper care of that fish while in your possession.
Don't just fill your livewell and forget about it.
Treat the fish in
your care as you would want your children treated and always use Catch &
Release, year-round, never be without it. This product carries medicine that
can save the fish you catch from disease and death. It replaces slime knocked
off during the catch, treats antibiotically to reduce fungus and infection
that can occur after you have released the fish back into the lake, and it
calms the fish so that it doesn't do more harm to itself in the livewell.
catch and release is your goal follow these steps and others discussed in
this package to the best of your ability. Delayed mortality is not generally
seen by those who cause it, but shows a lack of respect for the bass by those
who see it after you have gone. Live catch and release requires more than
just the act of doing so.