Apr 26, 2012, 10:14 AM EDT
If you are a tournament bass angler, your season is likely starting to ramp up and many parts of the country air and water temperatures are steadily climbing. Typically, the warmer the conditions, the more emphasis you need to put on proper fish care. Fish care can make or break your day if you are a tournament angler. Most tournaments have steep penalties for bringing dead fish to the scales, if they even let you weigh a dead fish, plus it’s unlawful to throw a dead fish back, so you often get stuck with that fish if it perishes on your watch. These tips are great for taking care of trophy catches that you want to get weighed and later released.
Here are a handful of things I do to help my fish, in the end it’s about keeping the water from getting too hot or oxygen depleted:
- When at all possible, keep your fish from banging around on the floor of your boat, handle them as little as possible to keep their slime coat intact.
- Bring frozen jugs to keep your pop & water cold, once the sun gets up use these to cool your livewells, but just one at a time, too cold to fast can be deadly for fish as well. Frozen jugs are better than loose bags of ice; they do a better job and don’t release weird chemicals like chlorine into your wells.
- Most of our boat’s carpets are a dark color and there is little insulation in the lids of our livewells, sometimes just laying a life jacket or worm bag over your livewell lids will shade the area and help keep the water a little cooler. Long term, you can also adhere some foam to the inside of your livewell lids for insulation.
- Keep the water moving, I like to keep adding fresh water all day as much as possible; but sometimes if you don’t have a lot of ice or if you are in some really warm backwater with bad water quality, you are better off using your recirculate feature.
- Also, livewell additives and treatments do wonders for fish, add periodically throughout day depending on how much freshwater you are adding to your wells.
- Bleeding fish can be an issue as well, if you have a bleeder, try dumping a little Mountain Dew or Sprite on the wound, it often stops the bleeding, you can also dab a little livewell additive on the wound, it works as well.
- Lastly, if you have a week fish, starting to turn on its side; temporarily clip a large one ounce sinker or jig to its bottom belly fin. This will help keep the fish upright and reduce stress on the fish; they can often recover on their own with this aid, just take the weights off before you bag your fish.
Well, I hope at least one of these tips are new to you and help you avoid a costly dead fish penalty and get you a bigger check, not to mention better protect our resources!
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