Protecting Your Hands
Many fish have sharp fins, teeth, and gill plates that will hurt you if you're not careful. The gill plates on some fish can be as sharp as a razor and cut you badly. Even the skin on some fish can scrape and cut you. If you are not familiar with the type fish you're catching be extremely careful with the way you handle it. Landing the fish is a dangerous time because you're usually excited, trying to get it out of the water quickly, and you can do things that expose your hands and the rest of your body to the dangerous parts of the fish. You can use any of the landing devices we'll talk about shortly to help protect your hands while landing a fish. But once the fish is out of water, you still have to touch it regardless of what landing device you use. Bottom line: Always be careful when touching a live fish.
Bass fishermen often grab a bass by its lower lip to land and hold it. Don't do this with a fish you aren't familiar with until you look in its mouth, especially if you're in salt water. Some freshwater fish and many saltwater species have teeth that will cause serious injury.