Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

Not certain about the most of us, but since I'm a float tuber and a pontooner, I'm close to the surface of the water, already at arms level to hold the fishes in horizontal, double-handled method, wetting my hands before man-handling the fish. When I'm on the shoreline, I always have a 5 gallon bucket filled with the local water, preserving the natural biomatters and organics within that water to wet my hands with before handling the fish.

However, I can confidently say 90% of us still hold the fish vertically when we CPR (capture, picture, release) holding large species, aside from the smaller, lighter, bubble weight BGs. Why would this matter?

Fishes in the water swim horizontally. They descend and ascend horizontally, in an angle. They don't go vertical in the water. When being pulled out the water, the majority of the body mass suddenly shifts from horizontal to vertical, creating stresses both on the jaw and the body. Imagine you're wearing a 100lbs weight in additional to your own body weight, and someone grab you by the jaw, lifts you up, and suspends you from a minute to probably 3 minutes. What's the damages resulting from that event?

The comeback statement probably fired back like, "Well, I CPR, and nothing happen to the fishes."

How would you know? Do you swim with the fish for the next 3 to 5 days, to monitor their physiological damages before they go belly up? There are many documented events at my waters where double digit bass bellied up, not only being dragged from the depth too quickly without proper deflation, but also jawline damages due to improper handling. There goes the prized sport fishes the bass chasers are so happy to nurture.

"I handle my fish with one hand horizontally with no problem."

Sorry to say, but you just damage the fish's jaw, preventing it from properly feeding due to permanent opened jawlock. You might as well have kept it.

"I properly handle the fishes using both hands during CPR."

Did you actually protect the fishes by wetting your hands first, or place it on a wet towel to prevent the protective slime layer from being stripped off?

Sport fishermen like to toss their catches right back into the water like the fishes are dolphins. My gosh, I see 10 to 25 years veterans, holding the huge fishes by one hand on the jaws, and just swung those poor thing right off into the waters like their yesterday dead baits. I'm just baffled of their knowledge in handling prized fishes that they are chasing after. For me, I don't really care. I chase after fishes that I can eat, not released to be caught over and over again. However, catching a water monsters and release it will be a blessing to brag about in the decades to come, with cautious handling tactics.


We're all guilty of mishandling the CPR fishes. I'm included at time when I have to handle an aggressive fish for CPR. However, since I'm on the float, I tried my best to hold onto the fishes in the water, setting up the CPR station/deck/apron, and get the fishes into/onto it. But, the fishes that I will hold onto for my dinner, I will manhandle it vertically, or with one hand, clearly indicating that those victims will be my meals.


What's your take?

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Sorry Leo, now I'm a bit confused... (You're post made perfect sense but I'm just confusable) The vertical hold is BETTER than the horizontal one hander right? 

Jacob, it's a confusing and very touchy subject. Let's clear thing up even more.

If the fish is small enough to be handled one handed horizontally, safely, due to it's light weight, yes, one handed is not a problem. However, lipping using one hand with merely two fingers without support from the rest of the other fingers under its belly, you are placing massive strains to the jaw muscles, as Tim Overbaugh has provide to such beautiful insights based on his taxidermy skills.

As the fish gets bigger and longer than we are able to handle with one hand, due to its ferocity in fighting back during the horizontal lipping, second hand for craddling and support then become a must.

However, whether it's a light weight or heavy weight, it's always good practice for CPR using both hands, and horizontally, unless it becomes your dinner.

Thanks Leo

LOFR, what constitutes free range in the fish world? And here at BBG, tolerance and respect is extended to ALL manner of practices, and harvests, provided they are within the law for the area in question. If you want to eat  your limit of 2-3 pound BG......more power to you, and  you are perfectly within your rights to do so.

And for the record, pond management is a balancing act.....working together with Mother Nature is the idea...and that's why when man gets involved we see numbers of 2-3 lb fish, and not just the occasional individual. Mother Nature doesn't manage for big numbers of big BG. But big, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.winking

Mike, you are right about some species of fishes that are much hardier than other, while they are in or close to their adult sizes. For example, if you take a bass/BG/crappie/trout, a young fry would suffer much more than an pre-matured to fully matured sized fish, since they can effectively fight off diseases and physiological damages as they reach their optimal growing phases. However, like human, young a fry (like human baby) or older matured adult (like a human elder) is much more susceptible to viral, bacterial, and fungal infections when there's physiological damages/injuries from the battles with other species, or the hooks.

The hardiest of the fresh water would be the catfish species. Either young, matured, or aged, they are resilient, battles after battles, injuries after injuries. Next to the catfish would be the carp. I'm not lucky enough to study any other fresh water species since they're not available in larger sport fishing population to catch, so, I can't make determination beside the ones I'm exposed to.

And, contrary to popular belief, mortalities don't always float...definitely not right away. It takes a few days for gases to build up and bring the carcass to the surface, and the fish may be scavenged long before that happens.

I do think, (and this is just my opinion), that deeply hooked fish account for more morts than improperly held fish, at least where  your average BG are concerned.

Again though, not to beat a dead horse but while your article was about handling caught fish correctly, an impressionable angler may read it as "most of the fish you catch are going to die anyway so you might as well keep them." I know that wasn't the point of your article but we must stress C(P)R is good, good, GOOD! And while mishandling fish is bad, studies (http://www.acuteangling.com/Reference/C&RMortality.html) show that the mortality rate of a well-handled fish, shallow hooked fish is almost negligible. That doesn't mean handling a fish correctly isn't important, it really is. Thanks again for posting and it is something that can help all of us become better anglers.

Mike brings up a good point, and I must agree with him. With todays influence of catch and release, most anglers I know, and most that I see out on the water, are using good common sense in fish handling practices and I beleive that a very high majority of the released fish are surviving to be caught again. Even as panfishermen continue to become catch and release fans, big fish are being recycled for all to enjoy.

You must never watch any fishing shows. It is quite apparrent that the jaw holding method is the 'Pro" way and must be correct. Look at the pics on this forum and you will even see BG being held this way. How silly

Although I may or may not agree with all you have said I would say that everybody's circumstances may not be as clear as yours or some others and the opportunity to get out on the water it sketchy. I will say that everybody don't have the same circumstances and may not be as lucky as some that can get out at almost will as some of off the others of us. There are many reasons, could be work related or heath issues something none of us plan on but I'll be the first to say they are out there I promise you that. The people still love to eat fish and knowing they really don't know when they'll get out again as long as they have not broke any state laws more power to them put some in the freezer for a later date. Now that's not saying some of us don't overdue on the keeping of fish that we don't have more fish in the freezer than we will ever use that is just plain greedy. I'm sure there are I just wanted to make it clear unless we are in the another persons shoes we shouldn't judge and be judged. So that being said it's a hard topic and iffy at best but we just have to hope that if and when we get out we do the right things and if we all practice good stewardship things will work out. GOOD FISNIN to all my BBG friends

You're good Bill, you're welcome to share any opinion about fishing on this site. Mr. Tabbert was just giving another perspective which is also fine. But please, don't ever feel bad for sharing what you do. No two people have the same set of beliefs and that's part of what makes BBG great 

No offense taken sir. By no means am I an advocate of keeping loads of fish just wanted to put out there than everybody circumstances are different. I'm like you If I want a few I take them but I usually lucky to keep 20 fish all year my enjoyment is the catching and I want the resource there for many years for my kids and grand kids and great grand kids. Enjoy kind sir and GOOD FISHIN.....for years to come.

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