The Bassholes - It takes one to know one.

Keeping Your Catch Alive
on Friday 04 September 2009
by Doug Ruplinger

Keeping Your Catch Alive

bass fishing tournament weigh in

It’s just moments before sunrise, all conversations with your fellow competitors and friends has ceased. You idle over to the livewell check, your heart fills with angst and anticipation as you hear the first boat wind up 225 horses and blast off. This is tournament fishing, and its what we love to do.

Now that blast off is over and you have ran 10 miles to your best fishing hole, you have some decisions to make. What lure shall I begin the day with? Should I start shallow, or a little bit deeper? All kinds of decisions will go running through your head like the boats in blast off running to their holes. That stuff is normal, but there are some decisions you should have made long before you left for the lake in the morning, like; How will I care for the fish I catch?

By the time you catch your first keeper of the day, you should have already figured out an answer to that last question, even though I see so many anglers who throw their fish into the livewell, turn on their aerator, and never think twice about it.

Being caught is a very stressful event for a bass, and you need to do all you can as a sportsman to keep your fish in good health so they can be returned to the lake to live a long life after you weigh them in. You owe it to the fish. Lets start with the basics. Proper livewell aeration is a must. Most bass boats these days come equipt with an aeration system complete with timers and recirculation pumps. Fresh oxygen enriched water is a must for keeping your fish healthy.

The second thing that will help is an air stone. Most systems on the market cost under $60 and install easily. Having an air stone in your livewells will give those fish the oxygen their bodies demand in that stressful time.

The third thing is to keep your fish cool in the heat of the summer. Many anglers will dump a bag of ice anglers will dump a bag of ice in their livewell in the morning, but the ice will melt off after only a few hours of running your aerator, pretty much rendering it useless by the time the temperature gets up and the fish need it most. Remember, the water in your livewell will get much hotter than the water the fish was living in. An inexpensive, yet highly effective method is to take an empty 2 liter bottle from your favorite soft drink, fill it up with tap water, and stick it in the freezer the day before. In the morning, throw the bottle in your livewell. The solid block of ice in the bottle will last a lot longer than a bag of ice cubes will.

Last, but most certainly not least, is to use a mineral supliment in your livewell like Rejuvenade. It’s not enough to just throw in a cap full in the morning and expect it to last all day. I recommend that you treat your tank 3 times throught the day. As you run your aerators and recirculators, a good portion of your treated water is lost. These products are worth their weight in gold. A $15 bottle of Rejuvenade could cost you a couple of thousands of dollars in tournament winnings if you don’t have it.

Just try to remember that proper care of your catch starts long before you even put your boat in the water. If you plan ahead, you should have no problems keeping your creel alive.