Fish Care Guidelines for Tournament Anglers: Keeping bass healthy in the live well
1. FILL YOUR LIVE WELL EARLY IN THE DAY!
- Fill live well at first fishing spot.
- Use water from open lake areas with good water quality.
2. TURN ON THE RECIRCULATING AERATOR IMMEDIATELY!
- Set pump switch on manual (continuous operation)
- Run continuously all day.
- If aerator must run on a timer, run as often as possible.
- If boat does not have a recirculating aeration system, add one!
- This is a must to provide proper aeration while the boat is moving or on the trailer.
3. LAND FISH QUICKLY, AVOIDING DAMAGE TO SLIME COATING!
- Grasp fish by lower jaw only, holding them vertically.
- Support large fish with a wet hand under the belly.
- Use soft, knotless nylon or rubber landing nets.
- Do not allow fish to touch boat carpet and rub off protective slime.
- Remove hooks quickly with as little tissue damage as possible.
- Remove deep hooks carefully. When attempts fail, cut line five or six inches above the hook.
- Don't keep fish out of water longer than you can hold your breath.
4. KEEP FISH IN REAR LIVE WELLS IF VOLUME IS SUFFICIENT!
- Fish in forward live wells are more likely to be injured from bouncing during rough water travel.
- Distribute fish evenly between rear live well compartments.
5. PUMP FRESH WATER REGULARLY!
- When water temperatures are below 75 degrees, pump fresh water as often as possible.
6. ADD ICE & SALT!
- When water temperatures are above 75 degrees, recirculate live well water.
- Do not pump in hot lake water.
- Ice cools the water and slows the fish' metabolism.
- One 8-pound block of ice cools water in a 30-gallon live well about 10 degrees for three hours.
- Adjust the amount of ice according to live well size.
- Block ice melts slower and can be stored for later use.
- Monitor live well water temperatures.
- Non-iodized salt (available from farm feed stores).
- Helps maintain electrolyte balance and reduces the effects of stress.
- Add 1/3 cup per five gallons. Pre-measure salt into zip-lock bags.
- Drain half of the live well water every three hours.
- Refill with fresh water to remove toxic waste products (CO2 and ammonia).
- Add 1/2 the amount of ice, salt each time.
7. OXYGEN DELIVERY SYSTEMS
- Oxygen from pressurized cylinder is delivered directly into live well through air-stone or hose.
- Must have regulator or pressure valve. Pressurized tank must be securely mounted.
- Solves oxygen demand problems.
- Usually less need for water temperature adjustments but adding salt is still recommended.
- Periodic flushing (every two-three hours) with fresh water is also required.
- Better than simple aeration (air is only 21% oxygen)