Most big bass are caught from fall into spring. With that in mind, Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) has provided a great primer on how to care for those trophy fish. It’s specifically targeted to Texas anglers, but most of the information applies no matter where you are fishing.
Before we get to the TPW information, here are a couple of additional tips for handling bass so that you can release them unharmed.
1. When you’re reviving a fish, do NOT pull it forward and then push it backward in the water. Think about it. When a fish swims, water flows in only one direction across the gills. Pull; don’t push.
2. When you lift a bass by the lower jaw, do NOT pull down on that jaw. Keep the fish as vertical as possible as you lift, to relieve stress on the jaw. If the bass is more than 3 or 4 pounds, get a hand under its belly as soon as possible.
And if you want a trophy, consider this: A fiberglass replica is a much better option than a skin mount. It might cost a little more, but it will continue to look good long after the skin mount starts to fade and show signs of age. Most importantly, you don’t have to kill the fish to get your trophy.
Take a couple of photos, weigh the fish, and measure the length and girth, and you’ll have all you need for the fiberglass mount.
Personally, I prefer just a “hero shot” photograph of me grinning broadly with my fish, seconds before I release it. Only cost for that is making a print of the photo and framing it.
Here’s the TPW article: