How do I catch and release bass?

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to more actively practice conservation so I’ve decided to catch and release my Bass this year. Is there anything particular I need to know to make sure I’m doing it correctly?

There are some important things you should know when practicing this techniques with Bass to make sure that you’re not releasing hurt or damaged fish back into the water.  If you run into difficulty taking the lure out, avoid twisting and yanking them.  Needle-nose pliers work well to pry the hooks free without causing damage.  If the hook is actually stuck in the throat of the Bass, just cut the line.  If you leave about a foot and half of line on the hook, the Bass will probably get it loose himself.  If you try to remove it by prying, you’ll end up killing the fish.  It’s important to remember that the Bass has a protective coating of slime on his body, if you use a net, you’re probably going to rub that coating off which will subject the fish to a higher risk of infections and illnesses.  If a net is a necessity, purchase one that is made of rubber to minimize the danger.  If possible, don’t use one at all.  This coating can also be damaged by your measuring board, especially if it’s hot.  Before laying your fish on the board, dip it in the water first.  If you catch a Bass that weighs over 3 pounds support his weight with both hands by holding his stomach, grasping a Bass of this size by his lips may break his jaw.  Since Bass expel ammonia into the water when they breathe, it’s a good idea to use Catch & Release chemicals in your live-well in addition to recirculating the water with a pump.  You also need to make sure that the temperature of the water in the live well is as close to the lake temperature as possible.  A difference of as little as 8 degrees kill the Bass.

Dan Eggertsen is a fellow bass fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on bass fishing since 2004.

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