Do Bass Have Teeth? How to hold a bass properly

Bass is quite popular in North America and their teeth have been a matter of debate to avid anglers. You hold the bass by the lower lip, so they seem more likely to not have any teeth. Is that correct though? What about their eating habits? Different species of bass such as the striped bass, largemouth bass, and black bass are all opportunistic eaters. That means they will eat anything they cross upon, even if it means eating other bass! Now that you know what these gentle looking giants can do, it’s worth exploring more about their eating habits, proper methods to catch and hold them, and most importantly, do bass have teeth?

Do Bass Have Teeth

Yes, many of the species of bass have teeth. Their lips are lined with razor-like teeth facing inwards. Weird part is that even though largemouth bass are smaller in size, they have bigger teeth than the smallmouth bass. These teeth may seem tiny and insignificant now, but wait till you’re out on a day of fishing. Once you hold these fish by the lip a little while longer, they’ll start thrashing around and that’s when you feel the teeth.

Do Largemouth Bass Have Teeth?do largemouth bass have teeth

Largemouth Bass have a raspy row of tiny teeth instead of the general structure. They may not resemble that of a walleye or a pike, but they’re rough enough to damage your skin. Then again, the teeth are directed towards the jaw, so the most you feel is the sandpaper texture. This is designed to harden their jawline so they crush their prey.

Do Smallmouth Bass Have Teeth?

do smallmouth bass have teeth

Even smallmouth bass have sandpapery teeth but they are finer and designed to grasp prey and shove them inside their throat, after which they are crushed by the smallmouth’s secondary “jaws”. The lining of teeth is located both in the upper and lower jaws to support the jaws when holding on to prey. These small rough teeth are required for them to hold the hard shell of their prey for enough time that they can kill them.

Do Striped Bass Have Teeth?

striped bass

These fish are indeed powerful and tough. They are known to be aggressive and be huge unlike the other species. They have two separate patches of teeth at the back of their tongue towards the midline. The teeth of striped bass also have the major function of grabbing and holding their prey instead of tearing. Their sandpaper teeth also help them hold on to slippery food such as eels and alewives.

Do Rock Bass Have Teeth?

rock bass

These are also aggressive predators like cousin striped bass. They can be related to fish like bluegills but you can compare their behavior with the smallmouth bass. The rock bass have small teeth also designed for holding than ripping the flesh of their prey. Many fishermen consider them menaces because they fight for lure and steal bait from the straight mouth of the smallmouth bass.

Do Peacock Bass Have Teeth?

Peacock Bass of cichla ocellaris is larger predators and they have impressively grueling teeth designed to grasp their prey. Their teeth are located in their jaws as well as the pharyngeal bones along the throat.

Why do Bass Have Teeth

Bass have teeth that help them to eat. They don’t have the luxury to rip their prey apart like sharks. Instead, they trap their prey in their large mouth, and slowly push it down using their teeth. However, bass teeth are not capable of causing major injuries to humans as the bass don’t have the jaw strength.

Bass can often be mean and strike things just like that. However, when they actually feed on their prey, they flair their gills and create a vacuum-suspension that sucks in their prey. At this point, the pharyngeal (throat) teeth crush the exoskeleton of their prey. That is why the teeth of bass are popularly known as “crushers”.

To ambush their prey, the needle-like teeth on their lips hold the prey and move it inside which is quite easier due to the inward facing position of their teeth.

Also, don’t forget to read – What do bass eat?

What is Bass Thumb

As we got the answer to the question – do bass have teeth, let’s discuss what it can do. After a day of catching fish, outdoorsmen and anglers enjoy talking about their bass thumbs. No, their thumbs have not been eaten by the fish but they do create some damage.

When bass anglers catch enough fish for the day, their thumb pads become tender and extremely scratched up. This happens due to the sandpaper teeth of the lower jaw. When fishermen lip bass, the bass thrash themselves causing them to injure their fingers.

Although most experienced folk laugh at it or wear it as a “badge of honor”, the abraded skin can lead to infection or more serious issues if not taken care of. While it’s not as detrimental as when holding fish with bigger and larger teeth such as the wolf fish, they can cause discomfort for the next few days.

You should know that the bass thumb isn’t caused by catching three or four bass fish. So, if that’s stopping you from a day of fishing, it shouldn’t. Your phone should.

How to Hold a Bass Properly

While holding bass might be easy, especially to fishermen who have been out in the sea for a few years, most people, amateurs and professionals alike may not know how to hold a bass properly if they haven’t received the proper training. In fact, holding bass the wrong way may damage the fish, decreasing its value or even kill it.

Holding bass at an angle greater than even 10° puts pressure on its jaw, causing it to dislocate. This may result in the fish not being able to close its mouth correctly affecting the fish’s hunting ability. Due to hampered meals, the fish will probably die.

If you don’t want to injure them, hold them vertically. That being said, you can also hold bass of bigger size horizontally with one hand holding the weight from below. While holding them at an angle can be injurious to some fish, we are going to elaborate on the methods of holding bass here.

Vertical Hold

vertical hold

This is the safest way to hold bass as the tail is positioned underneath the mouth. The weight is uniformly distributed and the weight does not affect the placement of the jaw.

The proper way of using your hands is to insert your thumb in its mouth in order to grip the bottom lip while the rest of the fingers hold the bottom of the mouth. The fish may try to wriggle and slip off your hands, but keep a firm hold so that it doesn’t drop. Falling from a height can cause more damage than holding the fish improperly.

Horizontal Hold

horizontal hold

You may frequently find pictures of people holding bass vertically as prizes. While holding in this manner may look more appealing, we wouldn’t recommend it if you have never learnt how to hold it properly.

The first step is to grip on to the fish the same way as you would in the vertical position. You grasp the lower lip firmly this time and place the other hand underneath the body towards the caudal fin or tail. Your palm can go under the anal fin to support its body.

As for smallmouth bass, you can hold the body of the bass lightly to support. Ensure that the weight is evenly distributed throughout the body. Holding bass vertically is the ideal way to hold all bass, especially those of larger sizes.

Angled Hold

angled hold

Holding fish at an angle higher than 10° can injure its jaw. Having an angled hold is only appropriate for smaller sizes of bass. This is because smaller bass do not have the same pressure of weight as heavier and larger bass feel when held the same way.

Don’t Keep the Bass Out from the Water Too Long

Bass are like sharks. They can’t breathe if they are not moving, even in water. So, they’re in real trouble if they’re out of the water for too long. Catfish and some fishes may survive being out of the water for some time, but that’s not the case for bass. If they’re not put into a water body soon enough, they will not survive.

While holding a bass, it’s possible that you’ll not always think about their teeth as you can’t see them easily. But, that doesn’t mean you’re safe from them. If you keep the bass out of the water for a long time than it can endure, it’ll get annoyed and can start trying to escape from you.

And at that moment, you may feel its little teeth on your hand. To make sure that doesn’t happen, do not keep the bass out from the water for too long, and put it back in the water as soon as you can.

Don’t Try to Pull the Bass into the Boat Using the Line

Among many unknown mistakes you could make while catching a bass, a significant one is pulling it into the boat using the line. When you try to do that, the fishing line goes through a lot of stress or pressure. It doesn’t matter much if your line is heavy or not. If the lure is choked by the fish, the line will get weak due to the rub it’ll face from the bass’ teeth a few inches up from the knot. The line can break easily as it’ll get weaker from all this fight.

Also, people have faced rod failures numerous times while trying to catch a bass. There are times when the rod might even get snapped in half when the bass starts to flip. So, it’s always better to not try to pull the bass into the boat using the line.

How to Lip a Bass

When the fish is on your hook, reel it in closely until you can grab it. Hold it firmly by the underside and slide the hook out of its mouth. Now, lipping a bass may be easy, but it also could be dangerous if not done properly. The term “lipping” means getting a fish out of the water and putting it into same water body before it dies. While doing that, you have to hold the fish by its lips to make sure you don’t lose control.

Like many other techniques, it has proper steps to follow to make it easy. Avoiding “bass thumb” is the most important step here. To make sure it doesn’t happen, push your thumb as far as you can into the bass’ mouth. Make sure it’s all the way in as far as it goes. The webbing of your thumb should hit the lower jaw of the bass.

Bass Thumb may occur if you hold the jaw with the upper part of your thumb rather than the lower part. Also, you have to hold it firmly to make sure the fish can’t thrash or slide. Keep in mind that if not handled properly, bass can hurt you. And it doesn’t always need to use its teeth to do that. Other than their teeth, they have gill plates that are very sharp. They also have sharp dorsal fin which they use if they feel nervous. So, make sure you’re holding it properly to avoid any sort of injury.

Final Words

After the discussion on “Do Bass have teeth”, and everything else, we hope that you know the “dos and don’ts” of catching a bass. And by following these, you’ll surely be able to enjoy your fishing trip more than before. With these techniques, you’ll not be causing any harm to the fish or to yourself.

By making sure that you’re catching and holding the fish properly, you’ll not cause any undue stress to your prized catch. Once again, do not get scared if you feel that the bass has started to give you a “bass thumb” as it can’t seriously hurt you. Happy Fishing!

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