One reason is bass are so popular is the magnificent bucket mouth handle, and the â€śBass Thumbâ€ť that it creates.
Though many fish can be held at least partially by the mouth, no other freshwater fish is endowed with such a gratifying grip. Toothy pike or walleye will only be â€ślippedâ€ť once. Catfish jaw strength can be intimidating enough to grab a net. And when posing with tiny-mouthed sunfish, photos usually reveal a pinky out as if the angler were still nibbling a scone at a dainty tea party.
Though a slight injury, â€śBass Thumbâ€ť is not an accident. It results from repeatedly lifting bass with a wet thumb. Tiny partially detached pieces of skin are created by gripping the diminutive, cheese grater-like teeth of the bassâ€™ lower jaw. This strangely satisfying indicator of success, even days later, still serves as a reminder of time better spent.
Chris Lane, winner of the 2012 Bassmaster Classic showed off his Bass Thumb at a tournament a couple of years ago. My son is always proud of a little damage to his opposable digit. And his little sister once commented that her right thumb was getting a little sore from releasing bass. When I asked if she wanted to stop she said, â€śNope! Iâ€™ve still got my left one.â€ť
When someone asks, â€śHowâ€™s the fishing?â€ť hopefully that thumbs up gesture will also display the impressive evidence of Bass Thumb.