Keeping Tournament Fish Alive.....

Caring for Your Catch Fish Care Guidelines for Tournament Anglers

Keeping fish healthy in the livewell is important for tournament anglers and those not practicing catch and release. Several things can be done to help your fish remain healthy. Tournament organization has some hints they recommend to their anglers. They will work for everyone.

Operation Bass is extremely vigilant when it comes to protecting the very resource that our business is built upon, namely bass. All of our tournaments are, of course, catch-and-release. As a company, Operation Bass maintains a 98 percent live-release rate.

There are two sides of the coin when it comes to keeping fish healthy in a tournament. All of the procedures centering around the weigh-in are important. However, the bass spend a much greater amount of time in the Livewells of anglers than they do during a weigh-in. So, we're providing this comprehensive list of steps you can take to keep your catch alive and healthy.

I. Fill your livewell early in the day. Fill your livewell at your first stop. It will be cooler and better aerated than later on. Use water from open lake areas with good water quality.

II. Turn on the recirculating aerator immediately. Set your aerator switch to manual (continuous operation). Run the aerator all day. If your pump only runs on a timer, run it as frequently as possible.

III. Land fish quickly and handle them as little as possible. Grasp fish by the lower jaw and hold them vertically. Bend the jaw as little as possible. Wet your hands before touching fish. Support large fish with a wet hand under the belly. Use soft, knotless nylon or rubber landing nets. Don't allow fish to touch boat carpet When deep hooks cannot be removed, cut line five or six inches above the hook Don't keep fish out of water longer than you can hold your breath.

IV. Care for fish while in Livewells. Fish in forward livewells are more likely to be injured from bouncing while traveling in rough water. Monitor livewell temperatures. When water temperatures are below 75 degrees, pump fresh water as often as your system will allow. When water temperatures are above 75 degrees, recirculate live well water rather than pumping in hot lake water.

Use ice to cool water and slow your fish’s' metabolisms One eight pound block of ice (one gallon plastic jug) cools water in a 30-gallon live well about 10 degrees for three hours. Block ice melts more slowly.

Add one-third cup of non-iodized salt per five gallons. It helps maintain electrolyte balance and reduces the effects of stress. Use 'Live N Well' or 'Catch & Release' products to maintain metabolism.

Drain half of the livewell water every three hours and refill with fresh water to remove waste byproducts like carbon dioxide and ammonia.



* Reprint From Kansas Angler 1999