Holding a Fish
Holding a fish presents many of the same problems as landing a fish by hand. You don't want to injure yourself or the fish while holding it. There are ways to remove hooks without creating problems or exposing yourself to dangerous fins and teeth. And there are ways to pose for pictures to enhance the shot without harming you or the fish.
Always look where you're putting your fingers. Holding a bass with your fingers works fine but fish with teeth can't be held that way. Putting your hand in the gills of a pike works but if your fingers go too far inside they can damage the fish, and the gill rakers will cut you.
Removing hooks creates special problems in handling fish. You need to hold them securely and take the hook out of their mouths. If you're keeping the fish, it doesn't matter if you squeeze them tightly with a glove and jerk the hook out with a pair of pliers; but don't do that if you plan on releasing the fish, because you'll seriously injure them.
Needlenose pliers are a staple in every fisherman's tackle, and they're useful for removing hooks as well as doing other jobs. But for removing hooks, a hook disgorger is a better tool. This is a device with a squeeze handle that operates little jaws at the end of a long shaft. You can dislodge the hook by grabbing it with the small jaws and twisting it out from the mouths of fish with teeth without getting your hand too close. A jaw spreader, a simple wire spring that holds the fish's mouth open, will help, too.
Posing for Pictures
When posing for pictures with your catch, hold the fish carefully, avoiding parts that might hurt your hand. Hold the fish up just below your chin in front of you or at eye level beside you, and let the fish hang naturally if you're holding it with one hand. Don't try to twist is sideways unless you put your other hand under the body to support it. If you plan on releasing the fish, remember that each place you touch the fish is another place you damage the slime layer and expose the fish to infections. Hold the fish toward the camera some because that makes it look bigger. Always get the eye of the fish in the shot, because the picture won't look right without it.
Don't keep the fish out of water any longer than absolutely necessary if you're going to release it. The longer it's out of water, the less likely it is to survive. Dip the fish back under the water if there's a pause between shots. Keep it wet and keep the gills in the water as much as possible.
If you plan on keeping the fish to eat, it will taste better if you put it on ice immediately. Keeping the fish in the water on a stringer or in a live well is not as good as cooling it off quickly. Handle a fish you plan to eat as little as possible, not to protect it, but to protect its flavor.