Excuse me while I get on my soapbox for a minute. Everyone that has fished St. Clair for the last three years, and is even remotely objective, has noticed the average weight it takes to win a tournament on St Clair is down. There are still a lot of fish, but there aren't near as many 4 pound plus class fish than there was three or four years ago. There are several reasons for this including environmental conditions of the lake, dredging that stirs contaminants that had settled into the lakes bottom, sewage out of the Clinton River, conditioning from fishing pressure, the introduction of exotic species, and an over all shift in the food chain. One thing for sure is we tournament anglers are also hurting the population. If you don't believe me, go look at the water around a weigh-in site the day after a big tournament and remember not only are dead fish floating, but many sink as well! When you catch big Smallmouth in cool oxygenated flowing water, put five big ones in your livewell for eight hours, drag them 5-20 miles over two to three foot waves at 50 mph, weigh them, and then release them in slack water that is usually muddier and sometime up to ten degrees warmer than where they were caught; fish die! Anything we can do to help fish survive, mainly return the fish to the lake as soon as possible, we should do. Which brings me to my point; It just came to my attention that the GNT championship tournament on Lake St. Clair is going to hold their weigh-ins some 40 miles away from the lake at Bass Pro Shops! Now I appreciate all the support BPS has given local tournament circuits, they have been truly generous. I spend thousands of dollars at BPS yearly, and I think for the most part our Auburn Hills store is run very well. But there is no way you can convince me that anyone that truly cares about the welfare of fish is going to subject these fish to all the unnecessary stress (and mortality) that this tournament will cause! I realize the tournament is being held in October, and cooler temperatures are less stressful than warm temperatures, but this is killing fish for the promotion of tackle sales, pure and simple. Mike Nolan
I'm sure every one who reads this post will appreciate your concern for the well being of the fish. I also believe that the majority of bass anglers do their best to keep the fish as healthy as possible and we try to safely release as many as possible.
The one thing you have to remember though, as licensed fisherman we are all allowed to catch, keep and eat (kill) 5 fish per person per day.
The GNT is a Team Event and the limit is 5 fish per team. That right there cuts the number of kept fish by 50%. Of the remaining 50%, 100% of them will be released. Certainly a small percentage of them will die but at least we are trying to make an honest effort to keep the resource healthy.
Maybe you would feel better if we had a large Fish-Fry banquet after the championship??? It's perfectly leagal.
If you are seriously concerned about the fish population, then go after the guys fishing live-bait and putting 20 or 30 fish into a cooler and taking them home for dinner.
I disagree, but do like the fact that you are concerned for our fishery. My first question to anyone (not directed at you) that has concerns is, what have you done to fix the problems you see? Maybe you have and I'm not giving you the benefit of the doubt. I'm not trying to attack you, so don't take it the wrong way, just making a general statement. But I'm tired of all the moaning and groaning on this board, on the dock, and from Mi anglers in general about problems with absolutely no solutions given. We have taken this to new heights the last 2-3 years. The fights over spots, tournaments, he said/she said is gotten embarrassing. Last week while I was away, all the talk off on the Federation tournament was a classic example. We looked like idiots, not because a tournament had problems, but the way in which we handled it.
On to the arguement of transporting fish to BPS. Hopefully the following will aleviate your concerns. I preface these comments by saying that I am in no way sponsored by or affiliated with GNT, but do fish the trail.
- FLW & B.A.S.S have been doing this for years. Not saying that makes it right, but how come I have never heard one bit of out-cry? But the last 2 years when this event was announced people have come out of the woodwork. Why??? Have any of you written a letter to FLW about the recent FLW and Everstart events held on St. Clair and Erie and subsequent weigh-ins at Walmart?
- Right or wrong I have transported smallies from St. Clair in my livewell to the pond in my backyard. I pass by BPS during every trip home and I live another 8 miles up the road. I have done this on more than one occasion. So they can more than survive the trip if they are prepared properly. No fish in my pond have died as a result of the travel. Once I even accidentally left a walleye overnight in my livewell! Still alive. I'm sure Mini and others at BPS can also relate stories of catching smallies on Clair and transporting them to the BPS tank.
- Doug, correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that we checked-in a 1-1 ½ hr earlier than normal to allow for the travel time. Traveling on the highway in the livewell is much easier on the fish than being on Clair or Erie. I'll state right here and now driving the fish back and forth from BPS will have absolutely no ill effect on the fish. At least not any more than transporting them on the lake. Our fish were fine last year.
- The only concern would be the weigh-in process itself. And this is true whether it is held in my backyard, at BPS, of 2 feet from the Lake. It needs to be done quickly, staff needs to be in place to handle fish at the tanks, anglers need to prepare their fish before they come out of there livewell, anglers need to take care of their fish on the water, release tanks need to be properly prepared, plans need to be in place to handle fish that are not doing well, a plan needs to be in place for release, etc. Both anglers and tournament directors need to do their part to ensure this happens regardless if is a GNT, BFL, or club tournament. Follow these steps and it makes no difference where the weigh-in is. I have all the confidence in Doug to make sure this happens. If this was your argument I would agree, more needs to be done at ALL of our tournaments.
I respect your opinion and concern for our fish. I just think you've got you sights pointed at the wrong target. This is a great event for us anglers that compete in Mi, BPS, and the sport itself. I applaud Doug for pulling it off. I know no other director in this area that could. On a larger level though, I just hope that at some point in the future we can focus on some of the real issues and most of all get back to having fun fishing. I have not seen it in the last 2 years. Let's go fishing!!!
East Coast; yes I am aware people can legally kill five fish a day, and I don't think your analogy of having a fish fry is very logical. If all the tournament fisherman exercised their legal "Right" to keep five fish, the lake would have been ruined years ago. Even though this lake is huge there is a finite number of fish in it, and anglers can and are hurting the population of big Smallmouth. Don't kid yourself, live bait fisherman and poachers aren't killing near as many fish as "We" conservation-minded tournament fisherman and even if they were I would not expect to be able to reason with them. And, although I don't like to see any bass die, at least the people who eat them aren't wasting them. Having the weigh in that far from the lake is going to "Waste" a certain percentage of fish that would have otherwise lived; all for the sake of increasing tackle sales at Bass Pro Shop. Is that what you want?
Alex; I really don't know what to do about this problem other than "Moaning and Groaning" and hopefully making concerned anglers aware that there is a problem. There are many tournament fisherman who are in denial that "They" could be contributing to the demise of this great fishery. I don't know how much bass fishing you've done down South, but this same scenario has been played out in many lakes down South in lakes that had great fishing. The reason I posted on this board is I think most of the people that do read/post here are concerned about keeping this lake one of the best fishing lakes in the country. Live release boats are the best solution, but the cost is obviously a huge stumbling block especially for small club tournaments. In the state fish off, a live release boat was used, but it wasn't big enough to support the weight of the tanks, and the tanks weren't big enough. The boat went half way up the Black and dumped the fish in warm muddy water. There were a lot of fish killed. It's unfortunate some of our license dollars (that are currently being spent on cold water species even though most Michigan resident's fish warm water species) couldn't go to the purchase of a few live release boats. Clubs could be charged a fee to use the boat(s) to cover maintenance, fuel, catch and release solutions, ice, storage, and whatever other costs go into running such a boat. As far as BASS and FLW, BASS has always held all their weigh-ins at Metro Beach and used live release boats. I (and others) have been complaining on other bass fishing boards for years about FLW transporting the fish to Walmarts for the final two days of their tournaments. FLW also does a "Texas Shoot Out" style weigh-in that dramatically increases the time fish are out of the lake. On the subject of transporting fish, many of the guys who fish GNT tournaments with smaller boats don't have recirculation pumps in their livewells. Carrying fish in a livewell for an hour without oxygenation is not in any way good for them. By having a weigh-in at BPS, fish are going to be out of the lake at least three hours longer than they would if the weigh-in was held at the lake….and for what reason? Do you guys want even one fish to die for the sake of commercialism?
"I really don't know what to do about this problem other than "Moaning and Groaning" and hopefully making concerned anglers aware that there is a problem."
That's fine, Lord knows I've done the same thing. And about this very topic. But you also need to back it up with actions. Again I'm not saying you haven't. Just a general comment to all. I've heard way too much of the first without the second lately.
"many of the guys who fish GNT tournaments with smaller boats don't have recirculation pumps in their livewells. Carrying fish in a livewell for an hour without oxygenation is not in any way good for them."
I agree with the last part, but I believe you are 100% false on the 1st part. Somebody help me here. Do any of you GNT or other trail anglers have boats without recircs?
"Do you guys want even one fish to die for the sake of commercialism?"
We all hate commercialism, but keep in mind that funding for the big BPS stores, the development of fancy new spinnerbaits, development for better boatrs/motors, etc comes from somewhere.
Just curious what GNT will use to transport the fish back to the lake. FLW and Everstart use a big flat bed truck with oxygenated tanks that seems to work well. How many boats are fishing the GNT event? BASS/FLW/Everstart typically have 20 boats or less when they do the Walmart weigh-ins. What I don't like is how the BFL released all of the fish in the boat basin at Metro Beach. Certainly an organization as big as they are should use some sort of release boat, especially at Metro Beach, Harley, or Erie Metro. Elizabeth Park isn't too bad because you have the main river right there. I can remember going to Erie Metro the day after the Wonderland Tournament one year, and the number of dead fish was tremendous. If tournament directors are going to have "trailered" weigh-ins at a site away from the lake, river, etc..., they should help assure that each livewell is cared for properly before leaving the launch (ice added, chemicals, etc...). Notice I said "help". Obviously it is the responsibility of the boat owner to make sure livewells/areators are in working order. But the organizations should provide ice and chemicals if they are going to require fish to be weighed miles away from the lake. BASS does this, not sure about FLW/Everstart.
Binkwood has a point about some of the smaller or older boats. Many of them don't have good livewell systems like the newer boats. What happens if a fish dies during 40 mile drive? Will that person/team be penalized?
A live release boat definitely seems like the way to go at places like Harley, Metro Beach, and Erie Metro. However, I was also at the State Championship where they had a release boat, but it only went out as far as the middle of the Clinton River. If we have access to a release boat, we must make sure it is used properly.
Sure we can all legally keep 5--but do we really want to use that to use that as an excuse? How many times do we hear about these big tournaments having 98% or better "live realease", only to see dozens of "floaters" during or after the weigh-in.
The biggest problem with St clair and Erie right now is the the anglers that fish for bass before the season opens. Pull 20 or more bass off there nests on a nice day in mid May. How many of those nests will be abandoned? How many of the eggs will be eaten by gobies? How many of the caught fish are just to warn out to protect the nest anymore?
I never want to see a bass die. But it happens. Alot of our declining fish population starts before they even get to swim.
I'd be willing to bet, if the fish make it to bass pro alive, they will make it back to the lake alive. If they die, they wouldn't have made it if they stayed at the lake.
"If all the tournament fisherman exercised their legal "Right" to keep five fish, the lake would have been ruined years ago."
EXACTLY! That's the point I was trying to make. So my analogy was perfectly logical. Obviously releasing the fish does work. We are NOT killing ALL of the fish. YES some will die. I'm sorry this bothers you. The world is not perfect.
As far as "commercialism" goes, I'm sorry that bothers you too. You live in a capitalist society. Bass Pro shops is a multi-million dollar company. Bass Fishing it self is a multi-billion dollar industry. Who supports that? We do. We could ban tournament fishing and flush the economy further down the crapper. Would that make you happier?
You know what I'm looking forward to the most about the weigh in being at BPS? I have two small boys and they don't know the difference between BASS, FLW or GNT. They are going to see me on stage in front of a crowd of people and I am going to be their biggest hero. The whole event is going to bring people together and make the regular Joe Average, working class stiff, weekend angler feel like a real PRO. Sure, at the same time it will promote GNT and Bass Pro and maybe some people will buy some stuff and support the local economy. There is a lot of positive things that will come out of this event. A small percentage of lost fish is a price I personally am willing to pay.
I have an idea. Why don't you come to the weigh in and together we will count the total number of fish brought in. Then after being released we'll count the number floating dead fish, we'll multiply that by 2 under the assumption that at least that many also died under water. We'll then divide that by the total of fish caught and determine what % of the fish actually died. I would be very surprised if the number was greater than 10%. Let's assume there's 50 boats x 5 fish. 10% would be 25 dead fish. Is 25 a lot?? That's less than one fish per angler who can leagally kill 5 each.
At those numbers, I would have no problem sleeping at night.
During the weigh in, as always, Doug will have several aerated tanks with chemicals set up for the fish.
More holding tanks will be set up for the fish after they've been weighed.
The fish will then spend the night at Bass Pro in the LARGE holding tanks behind the eqaurium under Scott Moody's care.
On Sunday after having a good nights rest, the fish will be loaded into tanks on flat-beds or similar large trucks and released back in LSC.
If there is ONE thing I give the GNT credit for it's the way Doug cares for the fish. I've been to a lot worse "low budget" weigh ins with no tanks, produce department scales and have seen guys bring their fish up to the scale in dry bags. THAT is pretty poor.
I admit my livewell does not have a recirc. It pumps in fresh lake water on a time but will not recirc during the drive. However, since that is a concern in this thread, I will rig one up for the ride to BPS.
Thanks East Coast for the reply, yes we are taking them back to the lake Sunday morning!
We have three very large trucks to take the fish back if needed.
The release area has be selected because it is one of the most ideal locations to release fish!
Please Release Me with O2 tablets for the ride to BPS. The tanks behind the aquarium have been checked and double checked for perfect conditions for fish in EVERY way. Please release me and O2 for the ride back, then we will pump in fresh water and give them some Rejuvinate for the extra boost to their home.
You need to have re-circ's w/aerators in your boat if you want to be successfull at caring for your fish. Not just for the GNT but at all times. Just having a livewell fill is not enough to do the job properly. I admitt I was ingnorant to the fact that some did not have this already.
Reading this post,understanding how everyone feels .I`m just wondering if BPS would be interested in sponsoring a catch & release "boat" or" boats". Maybe we can get 1 or 2 pontoon boats by donation or repo. then BPS can dock them at St. Clair?
We as fisher"people" spend how much there.
BPS does alot for the tournaments i.e. gifts,donations.... Just wondering if someone has ever mentioned to BPS that "WE" could use a release boat on the pond?..........
Let them paint it all up with logos and let the using tournament director make a donation ? (without having a max. or a minn. donation)
BPS moved here hopefully they stay.
Just a suggestion fellow anglers..............
A release boat has been brought up in year's back I wanted to do this for all launch ramps just call and for a small fee a release boat would be sent to the tournament and take fish out to fresh clean water. But tournament directors said it would cost too much and would take away from the championship. The only one that listened was Wonderland after the heavy death tolls that they left behind for the residence to smell. It was the only thing that they ever did right. And probably the last. A mall business for the retirees in the neighborhood. But after hundreds of pounds of dead fish it's brought up again. Lets see what happens this time.
Okay Alex here goes!
This past spring I offered to arrange for the purchase of a release boat by the federation at a very minimal cost through Tracker and BPS. In fact a local club is offering to help fund the purchase. At this point we are working with Mercury to help supply a motor at a greatly reduced price as well! I also offered to any federation club, or members, free use of the store and its 3 million visitors each year to sell raffle tickets to raise the money for this purchase. I am very suprised that a club hasn't organized to do just that. In fact I have a young lady, her dad and a group of youth shooters that have raised nearly $3000 doing gun raffles to support the teams desire to compete at nationals.
Leaving a boat on the water for rental or even use by various organizations, raises an incredible liablility issue. I would doubt any person or company would be willing to put themselves in that type of risk! Even lending it out without supplying my own people would put BPS at huge risk. Thats why I am doing everything we can to get one purchased by the federation.
Most of you realize that BPS and myself have invested a fairly large portion of our resources to help support the federation and its fisherman. The goal is to help grow the federation through support of the fisherman while minimizing the effects on the enviornment.
In fact as I stated on this board after the fish off. I learned a lot on how we should have supported the fish off, with more people and two release boats. I truly thought we had it covered. After the first day it was very apparent we grossly underestimated the task at hand. Sorry guys!!!
I have had some very lengthly conversation on almost a daily basis on this very subject. I just wish we could get everyone to stop complaining and realize that the board, Doug and it's sponsors (including BPS) are hearing the complaints. We as a group plan to fix what was done wrong this past year. But realize we most likely will make mistakes again in the future. After all we are humans!
In regard to the weigh in for GNT at BPS I will add this!
I sponsor GNT, Federation and numerous club and local events. Sometimes people think that this big store has endless pockets! In fact we spend an amount that would blow most minds on donations. I am not requiring Doug or anyone else to have the weigh in here at this store hoping for an increase in sales. In fact having this event here will cost BPS more than it can make in sales! We will spend a considerable amount of money taking what ever steps are necessary to keep these fish alive and return them to the water. Remember folks I am an avid fisherman myself and would hate to hurt the fishery, I also enjoy. The reason I have agreed to have this event here is to hopefully benefit the fisherman, the families and to educate the public that we as tournament fisherman are really great people that care about our sport. We had an incredible influx of positive comments from both the fisherman and the general public after last years event.
I assure each and every one of you that four things will happen.
1. We will be prepared to handle the fish. Even if someone doesn't have recirc pumps we will have oxygen tablets for each boat. Remember that BPS employs a certifed biologist who will be here to care for the fish.
2. Some fish will die! It will not be anymore than would, if we did the weigh in at the lake! The difference is we might see more of it happen. Instead of dumping them into the lake directly afterward going home and not knowing that some of those fish are dying as we sleep that night!
3. The participants, families and customers will truly enjoy this event and as Marke said! Your kids or other kids may just look at you as a hero! This might be what starts the desire of some new folks to join the sport!! Everyone should agree thats important!
My partner and I chose to fish GNT for this very classic and the people involved with the trail and the anglers who fish it. I also fish the BFL and some Everstarts and I think all of the trails do a great job with release. Like in the other post, I a hope to death some kids shopping with their parents stop and see the "weigh in" at BPS and want to experience watching the "PRO'S" . It's Just like on television to many. They don't see the aftermath, the crying that happens every year at the end of the season that goes on here, and the 4-6 footers. They and their families see how "WE" conduct ourselves in public and share in our happiness or sorrow.
I along with all the "SERIOUS" anglers go all out to keep the fish lively, if for no other reason to avoid the penalties, but more for the release of a 3 1/4 lber. to be a 4 lber. ?? next year (help me on that on Dan...)
Tom (Bass Pro) I appreciate your efforts with the live release boat(s), and I certainly understand the liability issue. The club president you referenced that offered to donate funds for a release boat is a good friend of mine and told me of your conversation yesterday. Although he didn't bring it up in your conversation, this tournament is what prompted him into approaching you. When I suggested the live release boat being available to tournaments held on St. Clair it was more aimed at the DNR and certainly is the responsibility of BPS. Believe it or not the DNR are paid to manage our fisheries (that’s another whole subject!). I would also gladly donate to the purchase of a release boat providing it was available for “All” the big tournaments held on the lake. I agree with you on a great number of points you made, and I sincerely believe you do care about the fish. But I have to disagree with you about the “Some fish will die! It will not be anymore than would, if we did the weigh in at the lake!” comment. The ride out to your store will add much more stress to the fish than if the weigh-in was held at the lake. One of the posters admitted he didn’t have recirculation, and seemed oblivious to the fact that he needed one. If it costs Bass Pro more money than they are going to make and it will add unnecessary stress to the fish, why have the weigh-in there? So Phillips can pretend he’s Ray Scott up on a big stage and some of these anglers can “Look like Heroes” to their kids? As far as the comment about bed fishing goes, you really need to do some research into that area before you base an opinion. Bed fishing can hurt the bass population in some lakes, but an unbelievably small percentage of fish hatch and reach adult size, with or without people fishing beds. For the most part, more than 99 percent of all bass eggs are basically “Fish Food”, and that’s the way nature designed it. People have been bed fishing on Lake St. Clair for years. The fishing continued to “Improve” until three years ago, when the number of tournaments held on the lake sky-rocketed. That does not support your contention. What I’m talking ("moaning and groaning") about is killing fish that have beat the odds and grown to three or four pounds and then are being basically “Thrown out as Trash” for our enjoyment! It takes a smallie 12 to 15 years to reach four pounds in Michigan. I’m not commenting on the ethics of bed fishing, I’m just pointing out to you that people that bed fish on Lake St. Clair are not doing near the damage to the fishery that tournaments are. Don't get me wrong, I'm pro-tournament. But Lake St. Clair is a very unique lake. The ramps that are big enough (and most of the smaller ramps) to sustain large tournaments are located in slack water areas. Smallmouth bass are not near as resilient as largemouth bass are; they need higher oxygen content than largemouth. Being released in slack water is often lethal to them. I don't have to tell anyone how rough St. Clair is on any given day, especially the weekend. These fish get pounded on the boat ride in and they don’t need to be subjected to an hour + ride to BPS on Michigan roads no less! I didn’t make this post criticizing Phillips just for the sake of taking a shot at him. I don’t know him, he may be a great guy, but this weigh-in is in my opinion a big mistake. I don’t think anyone of you can honestly state you feel the fish are going to benefit from this weigh-in. I also wouldn’t like this to set some kind of example for future tournaments. What if someone wants to hold a weigh-in at Cabelas? Is that too far? Where do we draw the line? I enjoy the competition and camaraderie involved in tournament fishing. When I starting seeing beautiful 3 to 5 pound smallies floating around weigh-in sites a day after tournaments that I participated in, I feel very guilty and I do want to do something about it. The people that have basically said; “It’s not that big of a deal” or “I’m willing to pay the price of a few dead fish so I can look like a hero in front of my kids”… I will never see eye to eye with. I appeal to those of you who care about reducing the mortality rates on tournament caught bass in Lake St. Clair. Go tell Bass Pro Shops, Doug Phillips, the Michigan DNR, and your fellow anglers, that you don’t want and won’t participate in, tournaments that hold their weigh-ins forty miles from the lake. And let's push the DNR on the live release boat issue.
Why are you even fishing tuornys? You can't tell me you havent killed a fish during an event. You said yourself; you can't bring fish out of cool, oxiginated water and run around all day in 3 footers and expect to release them in slack water and not have them die. Do you run each fish back to the exact spot you caught them in for release?
If your that concerned, do you run an O2 tank with a bubbler directly into your livewell?
Put some ice, a couple of O2 tablets and some please release me in the livewell, with the re-circs on, the fish would live longer than a hour in the livewell. Once they are given to the weigh-master, I am sure they will be well cared for and released alive.
As for me doing my "homework" about the early season fishing. Do a search in this site with that topic. Pick up the new "IN FISHERMAN" (Oct- Nov issue). Read the article "when to leave smallmouths alone". Start a thread with that topic, or ask Mini why all the uproar latley about "closing the season down on Erie till the third week in June" just like it is on the Detroit river and SaintClair. See what kind of ansures you find.
99% of bass eggs are fish food??? Come on! Haven't you herd of "gobies"? They haven't been here for ever! In fact, I think they have become prominant in the last 5 years. This is not my opinion!! It's fact!!!.
Can the decline in the average size of fish in the last few years be credited to just fishing pressure alone. So many other things have happened to this fishery such as the water level, introdution of exotics, weather patterns. I understand your concerns for the fish, but the laws that created the fishery you say is harmed by the off-site weigh-in are the same laws that will not be broken this october. The way I see there is always going to be fishing pressure and rather than go after the leagal pressure try to do something about the illegal pressure that so many of of see every year. People keeping more thant their legal limit or out of season fish is a much bigger problem than 20 boats weighing in at BassPro. Of the potential fish that are involved here 100 is very small to the numbers of illegal bass kept every year in particular the spring. For example 2 years ago on saginaw bay the bass were spawning and when I came to a dnr lake access lined with shore fisherman w/ 5 gallon buckets filled to the top w/ 12" to 4lb largemouths. Almost everybody was well over their legal limit and most were not even legal fish I contacted the DNR, and nothing ever came of it (as I later found out there was a more serious matter they were dealing w/ ). To me this is much more serious problem. When I talked to some of them and explained about the spawn and how they could be hurting the fishery many understood and did'nt have a problem with releasing some of their fish, for most of them they had never caught that many fish. To me the problem w/ that day was that there were not enough law enforcement to go around, this incident prompted me to write a letter to the dnr explaining the event. As for
"For the most part, more than 99 percent of all bass eggs are basically "Fish Food", and that's the way nature designed it"
1% is still more than 0% right? If these 100 fish bother you than why dosen't the untold # of 1% bother you? There is a positive to the weigh-in as BassPro, It promotes the sport of Bass fishing in a positive light to the general public. An event similar to this is the reason I became involved w/ tournament fishing a world I was previously blind to. It will do us (those concerned w/ the well being of the fishery) no good to fight amongst ourselves. The are bigger issues at hand that could actually yield a positive result for the fishery. As for a release boat, is there a way to use the boats we already have. That is the easiest solution it may not be the best but it could be better than nothing. the only problem I see is if you use the livewells, you would have to handle the fish more which is never good. I'm not arguing but as for the 4lb smallmouth 12-15 years, I thought that was much lower on st. clair and expecially erie. I don't know who you fish or have fished w/ to develop these sterotypes about tournament fisherman don't care about their fish. I have fished w/ gnt for 2 years and doug's #1 concern at the weigh in is the fish. He weighs the fish in a bag which speeds up the time the fish are on the scales dramatically. And the holding tanks are better prepared than any other trail I have fished.