Do Bass Have Teeth?

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Do Bass Have Teeth?
Do Bass Have Teeth?

Bass fishing is a very enjoyable experience. And after reeling in a bass you may want to hold it for a picture. You also need to remove the hook from its mouth.

However, you do have to watch out for the teeth. Yes, bass do have teeth.

Anyway, this article will cover everything that you need to know about the teeth on bass. I’ve even included a section on properly handling bass and removing a hook from their mouth.

Do largemouth bass have teeth?

Yes. Bigmouth bass definitely have teeth. Now, the teeth aren’t similar to shark teeth or snapper teeth, but bass still have teeth. And the teeth are sharp enough to cut you.

Fortunately, the teeth are pretty small, so you won’t have to worry about your finger getting bit off or something disastrous like that. It only hurts a little bit if your finger brushes up against their teeth.

Overall, the teeth on bigmouth bass aren’t really that big of a concern for bass fishermen. It’s such a small problem that most bass fishermen aren’t even aware that bass have teeth.

Do smallmouth bass have teeth?

Smallmouth bass have even smaller teeth than bigmouth bass. The teeth on smallmouth bass feel somewhat similar to rough sandpaper. And I find them a little less sharp than the teeth on bigmouth bass.

With that said, you definitely don’t want to touch the teeth if at all possible, but they don’t hurt much if you accidentally brush up against them.

What is bass thumb?

Bass thumb is a term used to describe your thumb after you have handled a large amount of bass in a day. Basically, the skin on your thumb will have some damage from the sandpaper-like teeth on bass. The damage isn’t usually permanent. Your thumb will just look dried out and flaky, though.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt. In fact, bass thumb signals to other bass fishermen that you had a good day, so most fishermen view it as a badge of honor.

Fun fact: Bass thumb was the only way catch and release bass fishermen could prove they caught a bass before cameras were common.

Closely related to bass thumb is bass palm. If you have bass palm, then you had an excellent day because that means you caught a bass big enough to leave some light scarring on the palm of your hand.

Why do bass have teeth?

Bass have teeth to help them eat. However, bass do not rip apart prey like sharks, pike, or walleye. Instead, bass trap prey in their large mouth. They will then use their inward pointing teeth to grind the prey into an easy to swallow mush.

This method of swallowing prey is why bass have a huge mouth – they have to fit whole prey into it. Simply put, bass don’t have the luxury of ripping apart their prey.

Can bass fish hurt you?

No, bass can’t hurt you. Even if they did bite humans, they simply don’t have the teeth or jaw strength to cause much harm. However, they can still cause some minor damage to fishermen (ex. bass thumb and general frustration).

What you do to catch a bass can hurt you, though. Boating, dock fishing, and bank fishing all have risks. Fortunately, the bass themselves don’t pose much risk.

How to Safely Handle a Bass

Handling a bass isn’t that dangerous for fishermen. But it can be quite dangerous, even fatal, for the bass. This section will tell you exactly how to handle a bass to ensure the safety of the fish.

Hold bass with your thumb

Holding a bass is fairly easy. Simply hold it from the lower jaw using your thumb. I don’t recommend holding a bass any other way as it can injure the fish.

Hold bass vertically

The most important rule of handling bass is to hold them vertically. If you improperly hold them horizontally, then you will damage their jaw. And damaging the jaw is basically a death sentence for a bass since it will lose the ability to close its mouth.

You obviously don’t want to accidentally kill the bass you plan on releasing, so please hold a bass as vertically as you can. Yes, this means you should angle your hand so the bass is basically perfectly straight.

Don’t touch the gills

Don’t grab a bass by the gills as you can easily damage the gills by doing that. The gills are the most sensitive part of a bass.

I can’t even think of a reason that you would need to touch the gills on a bass, but don’t do it.

Don’t squeeze the bass

Obviously, don’t squeeze a bass when you handle it. Doing so can damage the internal organs and it will wipe off the protective slime. It’s also uncomfortable for the fish, and it can cause them to wiggle around.

There isn’t a good reason to squeeze a fish, so don’t do it.

Hold bass horizontally while supporting the tail

You can actually hold a bass horizontally. However, you must support the tail, or lower body, of the bass. You do not want to hold the bass horizontally without supporting the tail as this will almost always damage the jaw.

Also, grabbing the tail will remove the slime, which is bad. You should rest the tail on the side of your hand. Personally, I find holding bass horizontally a little annoying. It’s also slightly more difficult since it’s much easier to drop the fish.

Holding a bass horizontally does make a better picture, though.

Don’t drop the bass on the ground

Bass will wiggle around when you try to remove the hook. It’s especially important that you hold on tight and avoid dropping the bass on the ground, though. The ground is dry, which will remove the protective slime on fish. And removing the slime can actually kill fish.

With that in mind, I recommend removing the hook above water. You’ll lose the picture if you drop it, but you will save the bass.

Don’t use a rag to hold/handle bass

Beginners will often handle a bass with a rag to avoid the slime. Unfortunately, that mistake results in lots of dead bass every year. Using a rag removes the bass’s protective slime, and that will eventually kill the fish.

Never use a rag to handle bass. Honestly, you shouldn’t use a rag to handle any fish you plan on releasing.

Don’t keep the bass out of the water too long

This tip should be obvious, but don’t keep the bass out of the water for over 30 seconds. Bass can actually survive a few minutes out of the water, but it’s not safe. If the fish starts flopping around or acts stressed, then it’s time to return it to the water.

It’s also important to note that keeping a bass out of water for a long time will cause it to flop around, which makes it more likely to fall on the ground. As mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t let a bass fall on the ground.

Don’t land bass near rocks

Bass will thrash as you reel them to the surface. It’s for this reason that I recommend not landing a bass near rocks. The bass is much more likely to get injured near rocks. You can also get hung up on the rocks.

It’s just an overall bad situation.

I recommend landing bass, and all fish, in deeper water that has no rocks. I know it’s not always possible to do that, but it’s a good habit to get into when bass fishing. Of course, this doesn’t matter if you plan on eating the bass.

How to Remove a Hook from a Bass

The huge mouth, unique eating behavior, and lack of sharp teeth make bass fairly easy fish to unhook since they rarely swallow hooks. However, there is still a correct way to remove the hook from a bass. Here is that method:

Step 1: Land it in an open area

Removing a hook from a bass starts before you even land the fish. Don’t try landing a bass in a rocky area. The bass will thrash around, and it can really injure itself on rocks. As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t always possible, but it’s a good habit to form.

Step 2: Pull the bass out of the water with your hand

If you’re on a boat, then you should remove the bass from the water with your hand. This is better for the fish, and it’s better for your reel.

If you’re fishing from land, then you don’t have much choice. Try to vertically pull up the fish, though. Don’t drag it across the grass.

Step 3: Use needlenose pliers to gently remove the hook

This step is easy. Simply grab the stem of the hook with the needlenose pliers and push the opposite direction of the hook. Don’t use too much force as that can easily injure the fish.

Step 4: Gently lower the bass into the water

“Throwing it back” is a figure of speech. You don’t actually want to throw a fish back into the water. For bass, simply lower them tail first into the water. If they don’t swim off, then gently pull their head upstream. This will force water through the gills, and it usually gets them swimming.

How to remove a hook from a gut hooked bass?

If you gut hook a bass (it swallowed your bait), simply cut the line off as close to the hook as possible. The hook will eventually rust or dissolve, and the bass might live.

Don’t rip the hook out. I guarantee you that ripping the hook from a gut hooked fish will always kill the fish. You will usually see it floating 5-10 minutes later.

Gut hooked fish will often die later, which is why I recommend eating a gut hooked fish. I know it’s not common to eat bass, but the fish will likely die.

How to remove a hook from a tongue hooked bass?

A tongue hooked bass will always die because the tongue has a lot of arteries and veins. I recommend eating a tongue hooked bass.

Final Thoughts

That about covers it for everything you need to know about bass teeth, handling bass, and dehooking bass. In my opinion, bass are the easiest fish to dehook and handle. The big mouth, small teeth, and relatively light weight really does make handling bass so much easier.

Bass are also really fun to catch. They’re just an overall great fish.

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