Lip Grip is OUT!
|Click on Show 425 for interview w/ Les Booth on Lip-Grip is Out! Interview runs
18:10 thru 29:15
We’ve all seen it done.
On TV, in magazines and books, at every tournament and all over the Internet. All – of us if we’re truthful! – have done it. Many still do. Many more will, unfortunately, continue to do it. Despite the facts. The results of this all-to-common action, is death. What is it you say?
The answer is: the Horizontal-One-Hand-Lip-Grip-Hold.
You know, the one. Yeah, it’s grip part of the ‘Grip-n-Grin’; used to show off that beautiful big bass you’ve just caught. Showing you holding your trusty rod & reel; kissing ‘da bass, ‘Dance Style’; mugging for the camera – someone else or, worse yet!, a self-portrait; encouraging envy among your fishing party … and many other routinely justified purposes.
It may be popular and one could even say, “Well, everyone is doing it!” And about that part, you would be correct; nearly everyone IS doing it. But, there is no support for continuing to do it.
Fishermen must STOP using this damaging hold and STOP NOW.
Here’s HOW and WHY we must stop the damage.
Despite the fears of some, we can fish, enjoy the catch and protect the resource. If we execute the process correctly, we can also begin to regain credibility among the non-fishing population.
The Problem: Gripping the lower lip (dentary), while holding the fish horizontal with one hand. Thus, forcing the entire body weight of the fish to be supported at the operculum fulcrum point [OFP](jaw).
The Result: The muscles, ligaments and sinew connecting the OFP with the rest of the skeleton and supportive muscles and tissue, are subjected to extreme flexion. At the minimum, such a hold will expose the fish to severe muscle stress and strain, resulting in an inability to use the systemic complex for eating. This puts a fish at high risk of being a fatal release. In the worst case, the stressed muscle and cartilage are damaged, along with the connecting tissue, with possible socket dislocation. This would be roughly, a broken jaw, and a 100% post release mortality: aka, dead fish.
History of ‘Lip Grip’ method: This technique has been around since bass have been caught, landed and admired. However, since the advent of TV Fishing shows many more people are now suddenly influenced by the visual experience. A far more effective and powerful medium, TV, than the photos published in outdoor magazines, its influence: in this case: is tragic.
TV fishermen such as Roland Martin and Bill Dance became celebrity’s for their action-packed fishing display antics. Because of the outdoor TV personalities growing popularity and the desire of people to emulate, the problem has been perpetuated and a damaging trend established. It’s now an extensive problem and needs to be reversed. Far too many bass – many of trophy size – are ending up as turtle food that were released with the intention of maintaining a healthy recreational fishery.
The ‘lip grip’ problem is not as pervasive with ‘toothed fish’ – for obvious reasons. This is not to say they are free from the problem. Mechanical devices such as the boga-grip, if improperly used, will also cause serious damage to the fish.
Cause of the PROBLEM: It’s a muscle thing. Bass (all sunfish) eat by sucking prey into their buccal cavity (mouth). Open Jaw > Suck in water and prey > close Jaw > expel water out gills > swallow prey (food). It is that simple. However, the force generated to perform the ’suck’, is considerable and requires a great deal of muscle strength. The muscles needed to do this are all jointly connected to the operculum fulcrum point (OFP). This is the same point where, in an improperly held fish, all the pressure of the fishes body weight – suspended without support – is focused. When those muscles are strained or injured; let alone torn; the ability to generate the suction necessary to capture prey is greatly reduced or, eliminated.
Recovery time is proportionate to the severity of the injury. In studies conducted on the suction power generated during feeding, results have shown the stresses generated during the feeding process to be just short of resulting in injury. Thus, a fish with an injured muscle or set of muscles, needed for feeding, is just not going to be able to eat. A fish that cannot eat is a dead fish. The dangerous complexity of uch a scenario is compounded with a competitive population density for available prey, the mortality probability rises to unacceptable levels. This is a problem that can – and should – be totally avoided.
Solutions: There are several workable solutions to alleviate the problem inherent in the ‘lip grip’ technique.
- simply holding the fish with two hands, in a horizontal position will work best.
- a purely vertical hold, by the lower lip (dentary) will work on smaller fish.
- Large bodied bass – actually all fish over 3lbs – suffer an elevated potential for internal damage from the vertical position and thus should be avoided.
- use of mechanical lip-grip tools have been widely publicized. These tools work very well on restraining large fish – especially those with teeth that obviate a ‘lip grip’ by hand or to remove aggressive hooking methods (treble and barbed hooks) in fresh and saltwater. They are, however, not without their damage potential and controversy.
- Studies on popular sport angling fish species, like the tarpon and bone fish, have shown mortality rates as high as in the 80% range. Far too high to maintain any kind of a sustainable release population.
The best solution to the problem is:
- minimize handling of the fish using a Lite-Touch™  method
- release in-the-water whenever possible (read: ALWAYS for big fish; safety for both fish and fisherman is primary with big, trophy sized fish. Big fish do damage to themselves, fishermen and tackle when removed from the water; a primary concern regarding the ‘toothed fish’. ‘Avoidance of any action that might cause harm to a non-harvested and to-be-released fish‘ – should be the prime directive for any large fish.)
- use barbless hooks for faster, easier removal
- use protective coverings on hands (wet, or glove) to minimize skin-to-scale contact
- keep the photo sessions short and in-the-water; when out-of-water photos are to be taken, do so with a full-body support hold; pre-wet your hands (dip your hands in the water BEFORE handling the fish – or better yet, wear protective holding gloves and pre-wet;
- then quickly return the fish to water.
The Lip-Grip is OUT. The Lite-Touch™ is IN!
[Read the first online commentary on this subject, posted on Bill Anderson's blog, Muskoka Outdoors 13 JULY 2006 .. http://muskokaoutdoors.ca/blog/2006/07/13/dont-kill-the-fish-you-release/ ... in which I commented on Paul White's Muskoka Outdoors blog, regarding a bass he was holding in a vertical orientation]
 Lite-Touch™ (Pending) … it’s really quite a simple idea. Amazing isn’t it, how simple methods do work the best.
Lite-Touch™ is just what is sounds like. If you are going to release a fish, instead of killing it, then follow the three…
M+H+S = LFR
- MINIMAL contact with the fish
- HORIZONTAL, 2-hand-support… ONLY!
- SHORT duration – DO NOT exceed a 2 minute maximum out-of-water-timeline!
- M + H + S = LFR (Life Following Release)
It works. Simple as that.
—- Editors Notes —
The article was updated to include the new (1) Lip-Grip NO! logo. (2) Minor, no meaning change, edits for clarification. (3) Expansion on the Lite-Touch™ terminology; typography; definition; and, addition of the M+H+S = LFR formula. (4) Links were added to the Lip-Grip NO! page of images and code, being made for public distribution. (5) A link to the Dan Small Outdoors Radio show interview of the topic Lip-Grip is Out!, was added under the Lip-Grip NO! logo.
The article received additional editorial changes for clarification and a correction. (1) Clarifications were minor word corrections [ to > too; your >you're; a > an; etc.]. (2) Correction was for a typo error: operculum fulcrum joint was corrected to read operculum fulcrum point. Also two incorrect acronyms typos were corrected (3) from OFJ to OFP; and one additional (OFP) was added.