Does it do damage to hold a fish by the jaw?

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A study from the US has found that some ways of holding fish are better than others when it comes to causing soft tissue damage in the mouth,

IN recent years, cand release fishing has become more and more popular all around the world, with many modern anglers opting to take a photo of their catch rather than kill it. Commonly, fish are held aloft by their jaws while the successful angler gets their happy snap. This practice raises the question of what, if any, physical impact does holding a fish have on its jaw?

There isn’t much scientific research on this topic, so a group of US fish biologists and veterinarians got together to design and conduct an experiment to help shed some light on things, using bass as their subject species.

During the experiment, the researchers took detailed radiographs of bass being held in four different positions, including with a lip grip.The veterinarians then examined the radiographs of each position, looking for any noticeable breaks or injuries to jaw bones, with an emphasis on the dentary bones that make up the bottom jaw. The results and correlating imagery were nothing short of fascinating.

You can read the full article on the Wired2Fish website, by the most important findings were:

  • Larger fish do require an increased emphasis on proper fish handling, by supporting their weight with a second hand.
  • Applying too much pressure to soft tissue areas can cause damage. Any angle that deviates 10 percent or more from vertical or horizontal has the potential to damage the jaw.
  • Holding fish with a fish grip or by a hanging scale is beneficial.
  • The recommendation that it is acceptable to hold fish horizontally with a second hand supporting its weight or completely vertical was supported by the research.
  • Holding fish vertically with the weight of the fish being placed on the jaw in an exaggerated fashion is not acceptable.
  • Injured fish will likely swim away and appear completely normal.
  • Long-term affects of soft tissue injuries are currently unknown.
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