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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's the time of year that I get on my soap box and discuss the value of big bass. Every bass fisherman measures his/her success by their largest bass caught or hopes to catch a bigger one. Big bass are very important factor of bass fishing, just look at the interset of the Amistad tournament, big bass cause excitement.
This is the reason that I'm so against live bait fishing during the pre spawn and spawning periods, big bass are extremely vulnerable during this time to live bait. Most bass fisherman believe that catch and release means that the bass survive. Big bass mortality is much higher than bass between 2 1/2 to 4 lbs., because they are more susceptible to the stress of being captured and mishandled. Most bass fisherman keep a big bass to show off, photograph, weigh in or a trophy. I have put the mortality rate at over 30% due to handling. That means 70% live and 30% die from being caught. If live bait is 50% more effective, then more big bass die simply because more big bass are being caught. If big bass are valued above average size bass, then we should take measures to not allow live bait fishing during the pre spawn and spawning periods. This is also why I do not bed fish and believe high pressured lake should set aside sanctuary areas that are off limits during the spawning period. I also believe in selective harvest, if you have injured a bass keep it or keep a 1 1/2 to 2 Lb bass to eat once in awhile.
Tom
 

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Well, live bait fishermen tend to eat what they catch around here. That puts the mortality rate at 100% by my calculation. I love to bed fish, but all fish are released instantly or after 1-2 phhotos.
 
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Got into a debate at the boat ramp today while waiting for our Sunday tournament about keeping big bass. Seems a guy who owns a taxidermy shop fishes this local tournament. Anyway, I overheard him say that he keeps every big bass he happens to catch. I said how sad and he replied that it doesn't hurt the fishery any to keep 10lbers. I disagreed wholeheartedly. He then bragged saying he has 10 such bass on his wall now and hopes to have 100 of them some day.

This guy was off the hook rediculous and I plainly told him that replica's are better then skin mounts anyway. To which he disagreed. I said well maybe not yours but the ones in Texas sure are.

Anyway, I was not amused and told him that this is the main reason I believe that Florida will never challenge the world record bass as too many bozos keep their big fish here. He said our lakes are too shallow and thus too warm which stresses them out and is why our bass don't live as long as in other states so according to him they are all going to die anyway so why not keep them?

I mention all of this because he is not alone. Several anglers fishing this small tourney agreed with him. Sometimes I really feel out of place here in Florida. Most seem to agree with this guys philosophy and keep these monster fish. This of course saddens me. On forums however, the Florida anglers all or mostly oppose this practice but the ones I meet at boat ramps seem to favor keeping trophy sized bass. Just makes me sick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Keith, I started preaching about releasing bass in general around 1968, after the first All American bass tournament. The argument back then was "we give the fish to charity" and "do you really think bass fisherman can have a negative impact on bass population, if you do then you have no idea of how prolific bass are". Ray Scott.
After experiencing how a knowledgable bass fisherman can easily catch big bass on live bait, I caught over 100 10 lb+ bass between 1971 to 1975 using live crawdads, waterdogs and shad, changed my focus on live bait fishing. Now just pre spawn and spawning periods. The argument is always "we need to make room for 4 to 5 lb bass, because those big fish don't spawn anymore and eat all the prey". What do you think those big girls are doing on a bed?
Your encounter is not that unusual and I believe the majority of tournament fisherman secretly fish live bait during the week days, mostly using live shad and crawdads. I know a taxidermist that receives 100's of 10 to 12 lb frozen bass every year, that he just puts into the dumpster. He has all the fiberglass molds he will ever need, except one.
Yes big bass are a renewable resource, giant bass are not and you will never have a bass grow to be a giant if you kill it when it's a 10 lb fish. I don't believe Florida may never have the world record, unless someone grows it in a private pond, because there is nowhere for it to hide to get to be over 22 lbs.
Tom
 
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Thanks Imonembad.

Tom, you are right. I have almost never used live bait. A few times I have but never much luck. I keep waiting for my first 10lber which I guess is why I get kinda upset when I hear people who catch one and then keep it. I suppose I secretly want a chance at that fish too so I hope they put it back.

I know in Texas I made quite a few people happy when they caught their 10lb+ fish because I released it when it weighed 7-8lbs. What if I were just as selfish as some of those folks? Well then, some of those people would still be waiting for their 1st 10lbers also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Texans and Californians are a lot of things, but they both have an almost fanantic concern with catch and release. The problem in CA is the mortality rate kills more bass then fisherman take home. If you catch a bass in poor shape, put into the live well and keep it, because it more than likely will die anyway. To prevent irreversible stress death, carefully handle the bass, remove the hook and release it. If you are a tournament fisherman, use catch & release compounds and check on those bass several times during the day for any bass that has trouble keeping up right. If a bass is on it's side or rolled over and other bass in the live well are OK, the chances of that bass surviving is very low. I have a "keep alive stringer" that is used to keep my big bass out of the live well and in the lake water about 5 feet down. The stringer is made with 8' to 10' of 300 lb mono, dog clips crimped on (marlin leader tools) and stainless steel D type locking rings from a standard stringer. I use a 1 lb weight on one end and a stopper about 3' above the weight to keep the D ring from sliding any higher. My big bass always go directly onto this stringer and in the lake, if I plan not to release it immediately. I also use this stringer to revive any bass that looks like it is beginning to show signs of stress. If interested I will post a photo.
Most bass fisherman keep the bass in a live well believing the bass are OK. Bass beat themselves up in a live well and stress out due to temperature changes and low oxygen levels. The bigger the bass the higher the stress, unfortunately.
Tom
Ps; you need to be careful not to get the animal rights people upset and targeting bass fisherman as fish killers. However keeping a few smaller bass that are stressed is not a bad thing, 50 floaters after a tournament will cause more of an issue.
 
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I couldn't use that as it would be like dragging bait under my boat for our Gatirs :D haha. But it sounds like a feasible thing for the rest of the country.
 

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I've quoted Oklahoma's premier biologist Gene Gilliland hundreds of times but find apparently most tournament anglers don't respect his or most any other biologist's views. But here goes. He's proved about 25% of tournament C&R bass die before and after weigh-in. Some events are much worse, some better, averaging out nation-wide, higher mortality in warm months.

What that says to me is 25% of the biggest bass anglers can C&C (catch & cull) for a maximum stringer...die. NOT 25% of average bass in a fishery, but 25% of the best the best anglers can muster.

On another side of the issue is the C&K (catch & keep) folks using either live or artificial bait. Even many seasoned tournament anglers have yet to catch a monster bass, certainly 10# or larger. A very large percentage of C&K anglers prefer smaller bass, not actually going for big. A 10#er remains a mere dream for most. So which group is more directly affecting the big bass? I don't know of any direct studies, but don't doubt that a 500 bass tournament with average 25% mortality (including delayed mortality), kills larger than average bass.

OK. I've said it. :eek:

Jim
 

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I'm one of the biggest catch and release supporters there is. I've carried coolers while shore fishing just for the purpose of reconditioning big bass I have caught before releasing them. I've stood waste deep in the water trying to resuscitate large bass, even ones other anglers caught. My friends up north use to call me The Fish Doctor because I have always had an uncanny ability with the care of fish.

The first big bass, I ever caught, I caught when I was about 13 or 14 years old. My friend and I were up at a pond, we rode 45 minutes on bicycle and foot to get there at 5 in the morning and 15 minutes later I landed a 5lbr. I freaked out! I never saw anything so awesome! I put the fish on a metal stringer and rushed home with it, gripping the stringer and the handle bars, the fish just dangling in the breeze. I trip home was much quicker because it was mostly down hill (more like "down mountain") and we didnt have to walk any.

I got home, ripped the door open and ran into my parents bedroom shouting "wake up look at what I caught mom and dad!!" My father woke, saw it in the dim room, seemed impressed but half asleep and went back to sleep. So back out of the house I ran to stand in the driveway with my friend both freaking out over how big the bass was. As I stared at it and examined it, I decided before I cleaned and gutted it,(because thats what we did to fish back then... they were all dinner) I wanted my dad to see it in the daylight when he was awake. So I decided to fill up my sisters little plastic kiddie pool and put the bass in it. The more I looked at it the more I realized I wanted to keep it alive. How the chlorine in the water didnt kill the fish, to this day, I still have no idea. I guess that fish was just destined to survive. Anyway, after about 2 hours or so of the fish hanging out in the kiddie pool full of chlorinated tap water, my dad awoke. He saw the fish in the day light and he expressed the same thing i was feeling - let's let her live. So we filled a cooler up full of the water from the pool, put the bass in it, my dad dumped some aquarium chemicals in it to help the fish and up the road we went with her.

It took a little while to get her to swim away but eventually she swished her big ol' tail and away she went.

That was the last big fish I EVER kept with the exception of one fish that died on me during a tournament because of my boaters faulty livewell. I actually haven't even kept small bass since that day, until last summer. Which brings me to another point.

I do not believe in the harvest of big fish, for ANY reason, period, end of story. I am a firm believer that big bass produce fry that genetically have a better chance of getting big themselves (Texas's fishery program is total proof of that). However, the harvesting of small fish between the sizes of 12" to 15" I have learned can be a necessity that actually helps the over all population. I started harvesting some of the smaller bass from my pond a couple years or so ago and last summer and fall, I noticed that the average size of the bass in my pond has increased.

Let em live to fight another day is my motto. Give em a big ol' kiss on the nose and slip them back in. That's what I do with every fish no matter how big or how small :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The mortality rate is a slippery slope for BASS and tournament fishing. Bassmaster in their recent issue acknowledges Gene Gillilands studies that 28% of all tournament bass brought to the scales die post stress. BASS is asking everyone to stop using the term mortality rate and use survival rate, instead of 28% of the bass died, use 72% of the bass survived. Make a positive statement so the PETA crazies won't attack tournaments.
My view point on this is keep the over stressed bass if they appear in trouble. we should make it clear to the tournament fisherman what a over stressed bass looks like, what the symptoms are. If a bass has been hooked in the gills and is bleeding, it will bleed out and die, keep it. If the bass can't maintain equilibrium or swim up right, after fizzing it if caught in deep water, keep it because it is over stressed and will die. I haven't killed a big bass in over 25 years that I know of, because I don't keep them out of the water very long, don't keep them in a live well, except to transport for official weight and haven't done that since 1992. Tournaments kill bass, the problem with me is tournament anglers release stressed bass without knowing or acknowledging that only 72+% survive. I'm not against tournaments and love this sport, we just need to handle the bass more carefully and keep bass that will die anyway.
Tom
 

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Isn't there any way to nurse a stressed out fish back? Highly oxygenated blue water? I have always wondered what the real tournament numbers are.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
imonembad said:
Isn't there any way to nurse a stressed out fish back? Highly oxygenated blue water? I have always wondered what the real tournament numbers are.
I use the "stay alive stringer' and walk the bass around the boat if it can't swim well on it's own, until it can maintain a up right swimming. Then I keep the bass on the stringer until it is pulling and swimming around on it's own. If the gills are damaged, it a dead bass. We need to study methods how to prevent stresses that kill bass, so everyone knows what to do.
Tom
Ps; gators would be a problem with a stringer and so is leaving the bass in the water when you take off in the to another spot. I also have a water temperature guage in the live well.
 

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If you are set up you can nurse a fish back pretty well. You can buy the chemicals that they sell for livewell additives but you can also do just as well, if not better by using aquarium chemicals. I use two main products. One is called Stress Coat. It will restore their electrolytes, reduce the lactic acid (hmm is that the correct term.. im having a brain fart at the moment lol) in their muscles and restore their slime coat. Then I use aquarium salt. I know what you're thinking, bass arent salt water fish. True. but this salt is not for salt water fish it is for freshwater fish and it also helps with all that the Stress Coat does plus it will help fight any bacteria. You dont use much. Maybe 4 table spoons for a livewell.
Other than those chemicals, keep your aerator on and your livewell lid closed so the fish sits in the dark. Dont introduce water from the lake in at first. Let it just recirculate teh water thats already in the live well. After a while you can then introduce some lake water so that the fish becomes acclimated to the lake water before being released.
As far as how long I spend treating and acclimating before releasing... it depends on the fish. I have spent upwards of an hour doing so. I just leave the fish in the livewell (or cooler) or continue fishing while I let her recooperate. :)

Im sure some people may have different ideas and opinions that will work just as well, but this has worked for me for almost 2 decades with injured bass and even very tempermental delicate rare freshwater fish that I had recieved via airmail.

The coolest thing I have done as far as reviving and nursing fish was I once froze a bucket of minnows in the winter. After a couple days of sitting in the sub freezing temps outside I broght the bucket into my warm workshop and let the ice thaw. When the ice was thawed out out of the dozen minnows 5 were swimming once again. I added the mentioned chemicals, let the water rise to room temp, acclimated them to my 150gal tank and then dumped em in. Fortunately for them Einstein (my pet largemouth I once cared for.. more about him later :) ) had a full gut and they lived and even thrived for a few hours more before Einstein decided he was hungry again ;)
But it was the coolest thing seeing those fish come back from being frozen solid to swim again. Anyway, just thoght Id share that odd story lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The well known tournament circuits like BASS and WON Bass have pontoon boats with aeration tanks filled with chemicals and temperature controls to help prevent stressed bass and collect bass during the tournament, if the angler request it and at the weigh in. The bass are then kept in the tanks until they are released. The 28% figure was, I believe, factored into the current methods of handling bass.
Dropping flash frozen game fish into remote lakes by airplane is a common practice with the CA., DFG. I don't think we are saying the bass aren't tough, we are saying that some die, no matter how good your intensions are, when catching and releasing bass. Lets start a forum on proper treatment and handling of bass.
Tom
 
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I am all for proper handling of bass. I get depressed when I kill one fo them. I resent fishing for them when I accidentally kill one. To me it wasn't worth it.

This tournament I fish in handles the weigh in horribly. I may no longer enter them. nOt only for that reason but I like to fish for fun and not be rushed. But these guys weigh their fish in a 5 gallon bucket hanging from a metal stand with the scale attached. Fish get dumped into bucket flop around in it for a while so the read out is stable and then get dumped back into our weigh in bags. We then carry them down to the bank and release them.

One thing I have noticed is the colorations of the fish in my livewell all turn more like a Spotted bass colors. The black dots all over their back really stand out as well as their black line down the sides. They lose allot of the greenish back and it lightens up allot. They are very fiesty in my livewell. I leave the aerator on the entire time.

I should get some chemicals though if I want to keep fish in my livewell. One thing I do for these fish is most of them caught in the flats all have leeches all in their mouths. Sometimes more then 5. It is gross. I pull every last one off of the inside of the bass mouth with pliers and then release them. I figure it is the least I can do for those fish since they bit my lure :)

Jared, your survival stories are neat. I have one for you also. Back in the day (80's) I used to keep bass for food also. Anyway, I would ride my bike to various ponds and or my car. One time I caught a 3lber or so and I was with a friend. We didn't have a bucket or cooler to keep the fish in. However, we did have a black garbage bag and some ice. So we dumped the bag of ice into the garbage bag and I put the fish in that bag. I stuffed ice inside of the fishes mouth and covered the fish with a little of the remaining ice. This went into the trunk of our car and I drove back to the house. Probably like 10 minutes maybe 15 minutes just a guess. When I got home I took the fish out of the bag and I felt it move. I couldn't believe it. So I went to the bathroom and filled up the bathtub with tap water (Chlorinated water) and put the bass in this tub. That fish was ok and was swimming around in the bathtub minutes later. I was amazed.

I wish the story ended better but I still fileted that fish. I felt bad because it was still alive when I did it. Gee whiz what was I thinking? :(
 

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lol I know what mean Keith. I always feel IMMENSELY guilty every time I killed a bass.

2 or 3 years ago a couple teenages fished in my pond. I saw them fishing and thoght what harm oculd they do so I didnt chase them out. An hour or so later i decided to walk down and check on them. As I was walking down they were coming out and one had his shirt off and had something in it. I stopped them to talk and soon found out they had about an 8lb bass in the shirt wrapped up. I dont know why but I just said "wow shes a beauty!" and then watched them walk off. To this day I still regret that I didnt do what I should have done which was to tell them they were trespassing and if they didnt release the fish the law would be showing up for them. But I didnt and I cant tell you how many times I kick myself because I didnt say that. However, ever since then, I chase out ALL trespassers, by whatever means necessary. "leave my bass the h*** alone!" lol
 
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