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Keep them ALIVE!

1672 Views 15 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Alex
This link has a great article about the mortality rate of tournament released bass vs. electroshocked bass.

After reading the article I would like to know the depth of the tournament bass at time of catching vs. the depth of the electroshocked bass at time of capture. In the hot summer it seems as if many anglers might have caught their fish deep. If that is the case and the electroshocked fish came from shallower water then it seems that the rapid forced temperature change on the deeper fish could have stressed them a little extra. The shallower fish would be right where they wanted to be for the length of the study. Either way this study reinforces the importance of good livewell care.

Just my thoughts.

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great article. if the study is true, everyone can benefit from reading it. i will definalty run my livewell constantly, and i usually have ice in the boat ( cooler ). anyone have suggestions of what temps to try to hold in the livewell? and what is the salt they are talking about? what about the add in powders? i am fairly new to tournament fishing so i am always eager to learn, especially if it will prolong the life of the fish.

madman himself
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Guy's if you use Ice you had better carry a thermometer, the fish can only handle a temp change of about 6-8 degrees.

What is involved by using ice? Get the temp at the depth you caught the fish, then the surface temp, then the tank area at the site then the release spot. sounds complicated, it is. I use Ice with the release tanks in a gradual manner the first tank is about 8 degrees cooler than the release area the second is about 4 degrees.

I do think the salt is a good choice as well as lots of any formula use to keep fish alive. Darren Lear for example uses the formula on a very regular basis during the day and his fish always come in great shape. If you start taking care of the fish as soon as they are caught the mortality rate drops a significant amount. This is why Darren is so successful!!!

I do not support the Fizzing or the Bleeding! I have spoke with people that are around sites that different organizations known for Fizzing frequent and the fish die, but seeing that they have no air in their bladder, they sink. The general public doesn't see the floating fish so they assume the fish were released in a great condition. I personally would rather have a high fish kill and give the fish to a food bank or local group than to let them become turtle food! Very few angler's know how to do this correctly. Over 3/4 of the anglers are sticking needles in vital organs which kill the fish. Don't learn how to fizz or try it!

My advise is to start as soon as the fish is in the livewell not hours later because it looks like it is in trouble. The formula's have a seditive and anti-biotic. Most fish that people think need fizzing are just exhausted from the battle. The acids build up in their blood and flesh. To help this, have your wells pumping fresh water and keep using whatever solution you wish. O2 and a sedative are the best to clean their system out. Your fish should come back if you do this. Once your Smallies eyes start to turn orange, the chance of surrivial are very slim. We can get a real close guess by looking at the eyes, Mini and Donny can say we had about this many dead fish even though none were brought to the scales. We know this from 10's of thousands of fish brought to the tournaments we do. ( GNT, Michigan Bass Chapter Federation, The old A/C and countless private tourneys)

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The MDNR personell I have spoke with are also against fizzing. I informed him of my duties as Fish Boy on two circuits and he was glad we no longer do it. I also invited him to a weigh in.....

Fizzing is unneccesary in Michigan and if you don't know exactly what you're doing, you will do more harm than good.
They use a i.v. needle to let air out of the swim bladder! Most have killed more than they help!

There is more to it than that. When a fish (bass is what I speak of here) is caught out of deep water the pressure change from its location to your hand causes the swim bladder to expand and in turn will usually not allow a fish to "right" itself in a livewell, holding tank, or even the lake after it is released.

The technique of "fizzing"' involved sticking a hypodermic needle inbetween layers of muscle into the swim baldder to relieve some of the unwanted (uneeded) air to help the fish "right" itself and supposedly increase its chances to live.

Many fish have died just learning the practice and even many more that have sunk to the bottom and expired insteadof floating from the excess air.

I no longer practice this, and as a "fish boy" in a couple of circuits in Michigan, I no longer will do this on tournament caught fish.

I have seen it work successfully, but it is on rare occasions.

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QUOTE(madman24 @ Mar 4 2003, 01:32 PM)great article. if the study is true, everyone can benefit from reading it. i will definalty run my livewell constantly, and i usually have ice in the boat ( cooler ). anyone have suggestions of what temps to try to hold in the livewell? and what is the salt they are talking about? what about the add in powders? i am fairly new to tournament fishing so i am always eager to learn, especially if it will prolong the life of the fish.

madman himself

Reams of paper could not print out all of the information on the internet these days.

Do a search, subscribe to Bassmaster magazine and InFisherman. LOTS of good info.

I dont think our waters here are warm enough to warrant the use of ice for live released fish. Some inland waters you may have to do this, but as long as you dont fill your livewells from the back of Muscamoot in August or the Black River, the temps should be ok.

Run your recirc AND fresh water fill constantly unless you do use additives. Then run the fresh water fill every hour to half hour and the recirc constant. I even carry a spare areator with suction cups on it and alligator clips for power and THAT runs constantly.

Add additives (Please Release Me is one brand) or non iodized salt. I have heard various in life for humans too much of anything is not good.

Never subject the fish to a temerature change of more than 10 degrees. You will shock them and they may never survive.

Dont beat the fish up on rough boat rides. (your partner and your boat will also thank you)

These practices are more important to successful tournament fishing than the latest new bait!

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I have been told and have read that the swim bladder will bulge out on the side. It looks like a golf ball under the skin, this is the ONLY time one should even think about 'Fizzing".

Once again the fish is fighing for it's life, it has know idea that you just want to sedate it and take it for a ride! The fish float on their sides for a few reason. Acids built up in it blood and flesh, fizzing can not fix this. Stress from the unknown and complete exhaustion. Fresh oxyginated water with a sedative and 1/4 cup of non-iodize salt per average live well can help this. If you choose to use non-iodized salt only, go to 1/2 cup. The fish can heal themselves if given the chance. Remember "non" iodized salt!

Secondly, many fish die because there is no fresh water introduced. When a fish is stressed, it will urinate. This increases the amount of amonia to the water and this will poison them.

Most biologist say no to fizzing and yes to applying first aid as soon as the fish is hooked, yes, hooked!

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Gene Gilliland out of Oklahoma has done some great work in taking care of tournament caught bass by anglers AND the tournament operators. The Keeping Bass Alive book is a must have. You can get it through B.A.S.S.

Every 10 years, they have a huge catch-and-release symposium at Humboldt University in California. I've gotten some good information from their materials. There is a study that shows bass caught early in a tournament are a special concern. For some reason any bass that spends more than 6 hours in a livewell has its odds of good survival plummet. I haven't seen if they've done more work on this particular topic to find out why. They weren't sure from that study why.

We do have fairly moderate water temperatures in Michigan, so we shouldn't have as much difficulty taking care of bass as they do down South. We do have rough water consistently though on the Great Lakes.

When I prepare to run back a ways, I pump the wells full to the very top. I installed a bubbler system. I run that (although I'm looking at information about air bubble size that may have harmful implications to bass) bubbler. I cap the overflow tubes. This leaves no room for the bass to bounce against the lid. Since my wells are filled past the aerator, I turn off the pumps (which save them from damage too). I add a catch and release chemical too.

Where I mainly fish (the Great Lakes), I get cool water temps in the livewell. If I run more than an hour, I stop part way and pump in more fresh water. I keep a plastic scoop to get water in fast if I need to. If for some reason I really need to get water in fast, or get a air-locked pump working, I back the boat up sharply. This pushes water into my livewells too.

If you see a lot of foam on the water, you need to do a thorough exchange. This can indicate harmful chemicals from stressed bass.

I'm looking at information about oxygen levels. This is really the most critical factor for healthy bass in a livewell. Even good aerators don't put near as much oxygen in the water as most anglers think. It's common for most anglers' livewells to be low in oxygen. Some bubblers don't put a lot of oxygen into the water either (the warmer the water, the less oxygen it tends to trap) and I've read some info about large bubble size not being good either. The only real way to dramatically raise oxygen in a live well is to pump it in from a canister. I know a few anglers do this.

It is technical and dangerous if not done right with equipment designed specifically for this task. I'm still learning about it before I decide to pursue it or not. DON'T use hydrogen peroxide. Professional fisheries persons I trust say this is bad for bass.
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I forgot to acknowledge something: Hey John "fish boy" Maniaci, a new nickname is born...
I knew someone would catch that.....unfortunately it is the most articulate angler I know....

I guess I better change my business cards

Dan the Man,

I forgot about the Hydrogen Peroxide, angler's have told me that it does wonders for the fish, they say the fish become very lively! Lets see now....If I pour gasoline on you and light the fuel and you run around, this means your this is good! Dahhh

I first question the use of non-iodized salt, after about 15 minutes the fish became very aggressive. Aggressive to the point that they were jumping from the tanks to the lake by themselves(I like that type of release)
. I questions the salt and found out that NON-IODIZED salt is the main eliment in the formulas common to the market.

Once again, you bring another important piece of information to the site.

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Excellent topic. One I had hoped to bring up a few weeks ago if it wasn't for other obligations. I'm always curious as to what other anglers are doing with livewell management and fish care during tournaments. I think we can all learn from each other's experiences. I'm disheartened when I hear of some anglers that keep tricks of the trade a secret because they feel that it gives them a competitive advantage at the scales. Fishing secrets are one thing, but when it comes to the best interest of the fish, this should not be compromised. To all those that have posted, kudos'. 99% of the below has already been covered but here are my thoughts.

- Fill your livewells before you make your first cast. Nothing worse than putting a fish in your livewell as you wait for them to fill. I know some have superstitions about filling livewells, getting the net out, or hooking a fish on the first cast. Mine are the opposite. The net is out, the livewells filling, and I pray for a fish on the first cast!

- I run my freshwater pump and recirc/aerators 100%. Especially to start. As many have mentioned most fish will expel harmful chemicals shortly after being placed into the livewell due to stress. It's important that this water is removed.

- Once the fish and water are stabilized I plug the overflow and turn off the freshwater pump and add Catch&Release. The aerator/recirc stays on 100%. This will further help reduce stress and protect the fishes slime coat.

- After about a 1/2-hour or so I will remove the overflow plug and turn on the freshwater pump back on 100%. Add Catch&Release as necessary, but don't soak your fish in the stuff a day. A couple of times a day is plenty.

- Catch&Release is the only chemical I use. I don't believe in the use of other chemicals (except non-iodized salt) for the same reasons posted earlier. Short term results, long-term harm.

- I generally do not use ice on Great Lakes waters. Of course there are exceptions during hot spells. Like Mini stated, I don't feel that the water temps reach the level that warrants the use of ice. People misuse ice and a lot of times shock their fish with drastic temperature changes. While this may seem good when your heading to the scales, releasing fish from ice chilled livewells back to normal lake temps can be harmful. The St. Clair River is an excellent source for cooler/well-oxygenated water on your way back to the ramp. Moving water always has a higher oxygen content than stagnate water.

- Plug your overflows when on plane to help prevent water loss. Top off your livewells once you shut down. During long runs in rough water it is important to take your time and stop frequently to replenish water. I've seen a lot of damage done due to anglers racing back to the ramp.

- Remove any protrusion in your livewell. I even remove the lock mechanism/latch form under the livewell lid so fish can't damage themselves on the hardware. I haven't had a fish yet open the door and jump out yet!

- I'm also a firm believer that two separate livewells are better than one large livewell with a divider. This makes it much easier to separate healthy fish from those that may be stressed and excreting toxic chemicals or bleeding.

- Special care needs to be taken with fish that were baldly hooked, bleeding, or overstressed. Even if requires forfeiting fishing time to tend to these fish. Grab the fish by the tail or bottom lip and gently working them back and forth to oxygenate their gills and keep them upright. Also keep the livewell lid closed as much as possible to reduce sunlight. Fish have no eyelids are easily blinded by direct sunlight (milky color in the pupil). One trick I've also learned that can sometimes snap a otherwise healthy but lethargic fish back into shape is to "tickle' the muscle on the underside of their jaw while your working the fish. If they bite back you know its working. Stop laughing and try it. I'm a firm believer that once you put a fish your livewell they are in your care.

- There are several warning signs for troubled fish. First is its inability to swim upright. Second is "blotchiness" of the fish's vertical or horizontal markings. Third is their eyes, yellowing of the cornea is a sign of trouble.

- Periodically check your fish and make sure your pumps are working properly. I keep a spare bucket in my boat if a pump goes down. I know Mini and Dan also carry separate aerators, which I'm going to start using as well.

- Be conscious heading into shallower higher temperature water. Only pump in water you need to top off your livewell. Slowly introduce warmer water. In this case I would use moderate ice as needed. I will admit I feel victim to this last year. I made a quick stop in shallow/warmer water and started to top off my livewells. We ended up getting into a school of fish and went several minutes before I remembered the livewells. This was compounded by the fact that an aerator went down earlier in the day. We spent the next hour and a ½ trying to make up for my mistake and lost 3 fish. Bottomline, poor management on my part.

As a general rule I'm not an advocate of fizzing fish. However, I do think it has its place. When faced with fish in a release tank that otherwise appear healthy but can't right themselves, I would rather see them fizzed and given a chance at survival than deemed dead. Even if it means only 1 out of 10 actually survives. Those that don't won't go to waste, as they'll become part of nature's process. The biggest problem I see is the perception or message it sends. "No need to worry the guys at the tanks will take care of it". Upfront prevention should always be the first solution.

Looking forward to the freaking snow to melt!!
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Just a clarification. The chemical I use is "Please Release Me", I believe I called it out as "Catch&Release".

I also don't support fizzing fish that would otherwise not make it for "out of sight out of mind reasons".

See you guys at Bass Pro.
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