Did you realize that you can cause significant harm to a bass just by how it gets landed and held before release? Over-extension of the lower jaw can result in damage to the jaw bone and permanent injury to the fish. This frequently happens when the bass is held out vertically with the only support point being the lower jaw grip.
Fishery biologists at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reports that they have had largemouth bass come in for the ShareLunker progam that have died at the fishery center, or died when they were put back into the lake after spawning. The only thing that may have attributed to the fish mortality were broken jaws created by the way the angler grabbed the fish while landing it or holding for pictures.
Broken jaws can kill the fish by two ways. An infection can set in after the injury, or the fish may starve to death because of the injury.
A landing net should always be used when landing a seven pound or better fish; don’t lip it. Handling the fish out of the water should be supported by gripping the lower jaw of the fish with one hand and the other hand under the tail of the fish. The lower jaw should never be rolled under as the fish is held.
Consult the TPWD ShareLunker page http://tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/sharelunker/ for additional information on how to handle a big bass.