The Last three tournaments held have been in summer patterns, and the dead fish penalty’s become more and more of a factor. The reason this happens is the water temperatures get so high that the amount of dissolved oxygen becomes so low that the fish will actually smother in your live well and die. Fish care is something that this time of year I spend a portion of my day doing just that. In years past I did like most guys, I would put some type of fish saver chemical in the live well and just leave the pumps on but that is not enough, you need to do more so you don’t get that 8 ounce penalty.
At the Lake Ouachita Tournament this year the water temp reached nearly 90 degrees that week, the first day I made the mistake of letting my co-angler theory of “more is better” and killed several fish in the live wells. He added so much of the fish chemicals, actually using the entire bottle in one day and pouring dry chemical into the fish’s mouth that he sedated them to the point that they died. The chemicals are just that – chemicals if you add enough to the water that the water color changes, that is enough a couple cap fulls will last you all day. The most important factor of keeping fish alive in hot weather is to maintain cooler live well temperatures, cooler then the outside air and lake temperatures. Think of it as this – think of your live well as an aquarium, you don’t need to change your aquarium water every three hours. The only time I will exchange my live well water is when I get a lot of blood from a deep hooked fish, I will get rid of that water and start with some new water. If there is no bleeding I am going to leave that water in there all day.
In order to cool the water the obvious thing to use is ice, personally instead of using just bagged ice I will freeze one gallon jugs of water, these will last a lot longer then the bags of ice. It is best to maintain a temp around 70 degrees, now to see what your temp is – to see if you have enough ice, you need a thermometer even if it is just a floating one you get at a pet store. In my boat, Lowrance has a temperature probe on the trolling motor and another mounted inside the live well, this way right on the screen I can see just what the water temp is – in the lake and in my live well. I try to keep my live well around 70 degrees, this has so far kept my fish healthy and alive to the weigh in. Also in my boat I have installed one of the oxygenator, this keeps the oxygen level high enough without having to continually add hot lake water.
About a mounth ago the guys from Kool Well installed a Kool Well system in my boat. This makes the job of keeping my fish alive way easier. Under the video section on my website I have a video describing the entire system, be sure to check it out – also you can go to Koolwell.com for more information.
I am not a fan of dead fish penalties or the rule of not being able to cull dead fish because I don’t think anglers are intentionally killing fish, some fish just get hooked in the gills and you are just not going to be able to keep those fish alive. Especially when it is legal to go and catch ten or more fish a day and take them home and clean them and eat them, why does the tournament guy get penalized for having one dead fish out of the week. Just last week a guy lost the “formerly Stren” tournament because of a dead fish penalty and I remember when Terry Bolton lost the KY lake tournament because of a dead fish penalty. Luke Clausen finished sixth and did not make the top five at Guntersville because of a dead fish - who I now refer to as “Fish Killer”. I really think it is important to keep the fish alive, so we can catch them another day – as a matter of fact I would like to see more stricter rules about creel limits to try to protect bigger fish from the frying pan. So Keeping fish alive for the weigh in is a combination of things, you need to add your chemicals, you need to cool the water and you need add air back in to the water so make sure when your recirculating pump is on that it agitates the surface. Keep this stuff in mind and you hopefully you won’t end up like fish killer Luke!
This is starting to be one of the busiest summers for me I have had in a long time, as far as the amount of tournaments I am fishing. I fished the first PAA tournament for 2010 a few weeks ago on Cherokee, it was a really tough event the water temp was 90 and the air temp was 90+. Tommy Biffle from OK won it fishing shallow, but most of what was else was caught were caught 20 feet or deeper. I finished fifth in the event.
Last week I was on Lake Champlain fishing the first Bass Northern Open. Dave Wolak won it with a little over 54 lbs. I finished the tournament in 9th place with 50 lbs 11 ounces. It was a huge turn out there was over 200 boats fishing. I was able to get some great pictures of my day one and two on the water action, be sure to check them out under my photo gallery.
Thanks again for checking out my blog – and keep the comments coming.