Caught a 17 lb. 15 oz. blue on a 12" bass once, but the fish had a hook in it. I would imagine that small bass are natural forage for BIG blues whether the bass has been released or has not come into contact with an angler. LATER
When Bluefish blitz, birds don't sit on the water, they hover over the carnage and pick what they can without landing. Small Bass usually don't run with the Blues either. Sometimes larger ones will hug the bottom, to catch what drops down, but a more frequent scenario has the Bass coming into the area AFTER the blitz, to get an easy meal off the bottom. The oddball Bass that thinks he can run with the Bluefish usually doesn't survive to breeding age. In nature, that's called "survival of the fittest".... The leading cause of mortality in Bluefish is BIGGER Bluefish. Snappers make great bait for many species. I'm not convinced that anglers are the leading cause of death in Striped Bass. I just don't have information in that area.
Usually, when you get a feeding school of Bluefish, they are all about the same size. In Bass, that is not the case, you get smaller ones high in the water column, with larger ones deeper. The REALLY big Bass are solitary. This is because the smaller ones are more aggressive, and faster to chow down. A BIG Bass wants to think about it before she eats. She may mouth the food and drop it several times before she eats it. If there were smaller fish around, one of them would steal it.
Do you advocate keeping short Bass to save them from the Bluefish?
No? Just what ARE you trying to say then? Spit it out!
The toxin to which you refer is called lactic acid and it is devastating to fish caught on ultra light tackle. A fish may swim away when released, making the angler feel good. However, the fish's muscles lose their ability to absorb oxygen, causing a slow painful death that can last as long as 4 days. Ironically, it's some of the very ultra light anglers that are so critical of those that keep bass to eat. Can you spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y?