By Cody Levy
When it comes to fish care, some anglers don’t put enough emphasis on keeping their catch alive like they should. Thousands, of anglers compete year round trying to catch their biggest five fish of the day and taking them for a ride in their livewells; a ride that some fish may not make it through when in reality they should almost always survive that ride. The importance of fish care is greater than just trying to make your fish survive through weigh in, rather it is important to release fish with the same fight that they had when you caught them so that someone else can catch them in the future. To help anglers spread the importance of fish care, here are a few “Do’s and Don’ts” to keep your catch swimming for years to come.
DON’T: Don’t stuff live-wells for the sole purpose of pictures.
We’ve all seen them. There are guys that will go days in a row posting pictures of five fish clinched in two hands that they’ve had in their live-well for the past six hours on a hot day. This poses the argument: Whatever happened to catching one, taking a quick picture with it, and then releasing it back to the water? Individual pictures of big fish, without them being accompanied by four other keepers, are nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, taking one selfie with one big fish shows you’re thinking about the fish’s health and the overall health of the population in the lake and not about stroking your ego and holding up five for a photo opportunity.
DO: Do ensure that your live-wells are always working properly.
It’s a proven fact that every boat will eventually have mechanical issues. Ask any pro angler in any circuit and they will tell you to expect the unexpected while out on the water. When you break the list of important items on a boat, the live well can be considered one of the biggest key elements that can lead to success or failure. Broken live wells can turn a great day of fishing into a day of lost opportunity, so be sure to do regular maintenance checks on the water intake, recirculate, and pump out valves.
DO: Do keep live-well additives supplied in your boat.
A lot of money goes into competitive bass fishing. Bass boats, rods, reels, various baits, lines, electronics, fuel costs; the list goes on and on. So when your competing for a cash prize to help support your passion, like many anglers do on a weekly basis, protect your catch to help ensure your fish make it to weigh in. Adding a small dose of live-well additive, such as Sure-Life Please Release Me, will help your fish stay alive longer and will help them live to be caught another day.
Another additive that most may not think of until it is too late, is adding something to cool the water down. In a summertime tournament, the water surface can reach bathwater temperatures, which is where we fill our livewells from. Most of these fish caught throughout the summer will come from deep water, which is much cooler. To keep from having a fish boil in your boat, add in some Arctic Ice packs from your boat’s cooler and keep the water temps down in your livewells. Depending on the size of your livewell(s), one to two medium sized Arctic Ice packs should do the trick.
DON’T: Don’t be messy, clean and drain your live-wells!
Throughout a tournament day, a lot goes on in the livewells, well… in theory at least. Fish are being culled, they’re spitting up bait or soft plastics, being treated with additives, cull rings are in the livewells, and depending on how shallow your fishing, you can suck up dirt and silt through your live-well system. At the end of the day, you are left with a live-well filled with mud, old baits, nasty half-digested shad and crawdads, a powdery substance left from your additive, and cull rings that are soon to rust and stain your live-well. A step to keeping more bass alive is simply cleaning out your live-well of the filth of the last tournament. Your finish at the last event is now a memory and the dirty mess from the live-well should be too.
With a few simple steps towards proper fish care, keeping fish alive and well should be the last thing on your mind. Hopefully these few Do’s and Don’ts will help keep your fish lively and energetic the next time you’re in a tournament, after all, the hard part of the day should be catching fish, not keeping them alive. Good luck on the water!